Tips From A Psychologist On How To Stay Sane During This Crazy AF Time

If you’ve been reading the news, you might be freaking out right now. For hypochondriacs, the coronavirus pandemic is like our Olympics, if there were a situation in which one would train for the Olympics with the hopes of never having to actually compete. My training is not actual strategies for preparedness, but rather, constantly pushing the boundaries of my brain’s ability to conceive of outcomes to worry about. I’m basically just living in the Charlie Day Pepe Silvia meme, but the points on the string board are new hypotheticals I can stress over. (But the crazed look in the eyes is the same.) And I gotta tell you, all that worrying is not doing anything positive for my health. I’m week two into social distancing and anyone who asks how I’m doing is treated to a page from Dorinda’s playbook: not well, bitch!

But we won’t be out of the woods just yet, and I’m told worrying doesn’t burn calories, so that means it is neither comforting nor useful to sit around all day, anxiety spiraling. So I spoke to Dr. Jenny Taitz, a certified psychologist and author of How To Be Single And Happy (thankfully, the least of my worries right now), about how to reduce anxiety in this incredibly stressful and anxiety-inducing time.

It’s at this time that I feel I must confess something to you all: I don’t like to travel. *Pauses for collective audible gasp* Yes, you read that correctly. I am one of those rare millennials who does not really like to travel. And you know why? No, it has nothing to do with coronavirus; it’s because this bitch loves her routine. And it appears there’s actually a reason why I and others find routine so comforting: because it f*cking is.

“There was a powerful research study that compared antidepressant medication to cognitive therapy to something called behavioral activation, which is basically like having a day planner and scheduling activities that may expose pleasure and mastery,” recalls Dr. Taitz. “Remarkably, the activity scheduling was found to be as helpful as antidepressants and more helpful than cognitive therapy.” Now, neither I nor Dr. Taitz is saying you should throw out your medication or fire your therapist (the opposite, please), but she says, “it just speaks to how incredibly therapeutic it is to have a routine.” And, in this time of, shall we call it, extreme spontaneity, I think we can all agree that a little predictability would be really f*cking nice right about now.

But trying to create a calendar for the next month (or even the next week) can feel overwhelming. (Even before COVID-19 laughed in the face of regularity. I was always intimidated by the idea of nailing down plans—call it commitment issues.) So instead, Dr. Taitz advises, “step one would be to think about what matters deeply to you, the values that you have for the next few months, and then create a schedule that maps onto that.” In other words, are your priorities health, productivity, and friendship? Start thinking about (virtual!!) activities that fit into those categories and create a loose schedule based off those values. Maybe you make a commitment to tune into that yoga livestream every day at 9am, then give yourself 45 minutes to answer emails, and schedule a FaceTime with your friend on what would be your lunch break. Literally open up your day planner (or iCal if you’re too cool) and block all these things out. Dr. Taitz adds, “the more you can plug in and make it so you’re not going to have to start from square one every day,” the more at ease you’ll eventually feel.

While you’re building your schedule, don’t just make time for the sh*t you have to do—that’s literally no fun. “This is a time where people could resume things that they have previously entertained but haven’t had time for,” says Dr. Taitz. The one downside is that you now officially have no excuse to not learn that thing or start that project you’ve been telling everyone you were totally going to do. Maybe, like a lot of Twitter, you’re going to go Paul Hollywood and learn how to bake bread (just make sure it’s not underproofed). For me, it’s the book I’ve spent the last two years talking a big game about wanting to write but not having the time. When it comes to planning activities, Dr. Taitz recommends “scheduling a lot of things that bring you pleasure… or expanding on something that you already do that gives you a sense of accomplishment.” For instance,  do an activity you already like, or improve upon something you want to get better at. Like, if you already do 30 push-ups a day (brag), try to up it to 40. 

She also recommends everyone practice mindfulness, which she explains is “the specific ability to learn to be present in the moment without judgment.” That means making a conscious effort to not let your thoughts spin off into a tornado of anxiety, as easy as that is to do.

“Especially right now during this type of crisis, it’s so tempting to think about like, ‘Oh my god, how long is this gonna go on?’ ‘I’m gonna go crazy’ ‘I can’t take one more day of this.’ It’s so overwhelming,” she admits. Instead, she advises to spend at least three to five minutes a day formally practicing mindfulness, whether that be watching your breath or trying to meditate—“doing something where you have to keep coming back to being present without judgment.” 

And while the impulse is strong to try to bury your head in the sand and ignore the news, we all need to stay informed, for our safety and the safety of those around us. So how do you ride that fine line between keeping up to date with all the current information and going down a rabbit hole where you’re convinced you’re dying? (First of all, avoid WebMD.) Dr. Taitz says, “think about what’s the sweet spot where you’re taking in information that’s prudent and productive but not like drowning in a passive consumption of demoralizing or panic-inducing.” Like, if you know you can’t start your day without a quick news update, do that. But if you know that checking Twitter before bed will lead you down a dark path, probably avoid that. Going back to your routine, as you map out your schedule, you can carve out some time to check the news—just make sure you put a time limit on it and stick to it. “Really think about what kind of data is best for you and what’s the amount that is sensible,” she says. In other words, know yourself.

And in times like these, it’s important as ever to take care of your mental health. The good news is, Dr. Taitz says, “all psychologists should be able to offer some type of compliant video therapy, so if you’ve been wanting to try therapy but you haven’t had time, consider this as a time that you can really target your mental health.” However, with jobs on the line, paying for therapy may not be an option for many, so there is also the crisis text line if you’re anxious about coronavirus, which you can reach by texting HOME to 741741.

On top of therapy, Dr. Taitz says she “can’t speak to the power of social connection enough.” The good thing about us all being marooned in our homes now, as opposed to like, in 1918, is that we have so much technology to keep us all connected to our friends and loved ones so we don’t lose our sh*t. “If you could reach out to people, not just on text, but set up FaceTime dates like you would meeting people in person,” that’s the best because, “you’re not gonna get the same sense of empathy just over text.” 

It’s pretty normal to feel nothing short of hopeless in a time like this, when so much is out of our control. When talking to my therapist last night, she told me to focus on the things I can control, and take those actions. Like, you may not be able to control living with someone who still has to go into work right now, but you can wash your hands more often, disinfect doorknobs and light switches like a maniac, and do your part to social distance. Dr. Taitz agrees, “taking action is a powerful remedy for hopelessness” and adds that we should “focus on replacing unhelpful thoughts with helpful ones.” Even though we’re in a time of absolute craziness right now, making it feel as normal as possible will bring you some comfort. Above all, I feel like we’re all going a very similar range of emotions, so don’t feel like you’re alone in this, and don’t suffer in silence. To quote High School Musical (my literary pinnacle), we’re all in this together.

Images: Joshua Rawson-Harris / Unsplash

Betches may receive a portion of revenue if you click a link and purchase a product or service. The links are independently placed and do not influence editorial content.

6 Things You Need To Know About Traveling Alone

Way back when I was ~studying abroad,~ my friends and I tried to organize a trip to Amsterdam. Spoiler: it didn’t go well and none of us talk to each other anymore. It felt like that Girls episode when they all visited North Fork to “heal” and Marnie went completely psycho—except in my case, we were all Marnie. Fun! Tbh, I would blame the worst four days of my life on me and my friends all being too poor to do anything aside from smoke weed and feel depressed in the Anne Frank House, but I think the real reason is that traveling in groups, no matter how much money you have, sucks. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the cyberwar that broke out in your group chat over where to get dinner this weekend. Like, try doing that, but for four days in a different country. So, after the Amsterdam Incident, I’ve officially decided that every trip I take from now on will be either by myself or with my boyfriend, and since he is suffering from a brutal case of nonexistence, it looks like I’ll be traveling alone. And I am totally okay with that.

I know what you’re thinking, “wow, that’s so depressing!” and to you, I ask, is it? In my experience, when other people get involved in my plans, everything gets messed up and I become irrationally resentful. In other news, I will likely be dying alone. So if you want to protect your friendships from your own rage without sacrificing the ability to travel, maybe you, too, should consider traveling alone. Here are a few things to think about before you do, though.

Get Over Being By Yourself

If you’ve ever met me, you’re probably rolling your eyes right about now because you know that I don’t like to do literally anything alone. Like, if I’m eating by myself, it’s behind my closed bedroom door where no one can see me deep-throating a burrito. I have no idea why, but I always feel like when I do things alone in public, everyone is staring at me thinking, “That poor, pathetic girl.” In reality, since no one knows who I am and because I’m not doing anything worth staring at, exactly zero people are looking my way or thinking anything about me except for maybe “please get out of the way.” If you’re thinking of traveling alone, I’d start getting used to going to restaurants in a party of one, seeing movies, and shopping by yourself, just so you get used to the feeling of being out in public without anyone else with you. Being by yourself is nothing to be embarrassed about—and you’re really going to have to get over that before traveling alone.

Be Safe

I hate that safety is a concern for women traveling alone, but if you’ve ever seen Taken, you know that the world is a different place for women than it is for Liam Neeson men. Of course, being on your own isn’t a reason to not do things like travel, eat, or party; it’s just a reason to be extra vigilant. Obv, Taken is the most ridiculous movie ever made and Kim probably could have avoided the whole being kidnapped thing by just, like, not getting in a car with a French stranger and driving straight to her living quarters, but I don’t want to victim-blame. Seriously, though, if all the true crime I watch has taught me anything, it’s that there are a lot of crazy people out there, so when it comes to staying safe, take precautions! Basic safety tips include not trusting strangers (see, I knew my trust issues would come in handy one day), choosing a good purse with a secure closure (so you don’t get pickpocketed), and keeping your passport and other important documents locked up (pickpockets again).

Another big safety tip is to do your research beforehand and don’t just roll up to a foreign city totally unprepared. Make sure you are familiar with the vibes of each neighborhood, how to get around, stuff like that. And make sure you have the emergency numbers (like, the 911 equivalent) of wherever you’re visiting on hand. That may seem massively unnecessary, because what could possibly happen? But as someone who has broken a rib from simply falling down, let me just say, things could definitely happen. According to Bustle, “Some countries have separate numbers for crimes and medical emergencies,” so it’s a good idea to write all the important numbers down beforehand (yes, like on paper) in case your phone dies, you have no service, or anything else goes wrong with your phone. Bottom line is, you don’t want to have to look that stuff up in an actual emergency.

Accept That Not Everything Will Go According To Plan 

Like I warned my sister-in-law on her wedding day, every detail in the itinerary will not play out perfectly. Don’t react like she did; just be cool and accept it. Look, you can’t control the weather or whether or not there will be a huge national strike because the president of France wanted to increase the retirement age and now all the monuments are closed, so you can’t let mishaps ruin your whole trip. The best way to avoid having your itinerary getting f*cked up by things outside of your control is to not plan out every second of every day. Rather, choose an area you want to see and have a general idea sketched out of what you want to do there, rather than a minute-by-minute timeline that leaves no room for exploring or detours. I recommend picking one or two specific things you’d want to do in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Being on an aggressively strict schedule on vacation is low-key stressful, and part of the fun of taking a solo trip is being able to wander and explore without your annoying friends reminding you that you were supposed to be on your way to the Prado three and a half minutes ago.

Don’t Go Off The Grid

My crazy mother has convinced herself that if I walk back to my Midtown East apartment by myself, I will get murdered, so I can’t imagine how much that woman will worry when I go to Madrid, which may as well be North Korea to her, by myself. She’s very dramatic, but your friends and family will worry about you, so literally going off the grid isn’t a good idea—especially if you’re going somewhere unfamiliar alone. Whether you want to post every step you take to your Instagram story or just send a simple “I’m alive” text to a few people every night is up to you, but don’t be an asshole and just, like, turn your phone off.

Choose Your Accommodations Wisely

So, obviously you should do a ton of research into where you’re going to be staying and read enough reviews that you can feel confident and safe with your choice (but not so many reviews that you go down a rabbit hole and just throw your whole trip in the trash… speaking from experience). But, with so many options (hotel vs. hostel vs. Airbnb), your first bet is to zero in on which type of accommodation is right for you. One thing to consider is the balance of comfort vs. isolation. While it’s definitely nice to relax at the end of a tiring day in a non-bunk bed in a private room at a hotel or Airbnb, speaking from experience, staying in one of those can make it more difficult to meet people, which can make you feel even more isolated. So you’ll really want to be honest with yourself. Assess how easily you can talk to strangers, and whether you feel energized by being around people. If you like being around people but are not good at starting conversations, you might want to find a more social place to stay. If you literally hate people and/or could chat up a wall, you’d probably be fine staying in a place where you will never so much as bump into another person.

Prepare For FOMO

I once skipped a distant friend’s birthday dinner at a restaurant I hate because I had a cold, but then I saw everyone’s Instagram stories, and you better believe my FOMO was through the damn roof. So much so that I ripped off my floor-length bathrobe, threw on an outfit, and got my sick ass to Brooklyn because missing out is too much for me to handle. Even if you’re having the time of your life, you will probably still experience FOMO traveling alone. If you’re traveling alone, you are going to have to be okay with the fact that your friends won’t pause their own lives while you’re living your best one in a different city/state/country. Remember, you are the prize and you took this trip for the Instagrams yourself! Let this trip teach you a lesson about having fun by yourself and being happy for the people having fun without you.

At the end of the day, I wouldn’t actually recommend traveling alone every single time you go on vacation (at the very least, so you can save money by splitting costs), but taking a few days to explore the world on your own is a really good way to grow and, considering how much I hate eating alone at a restaurant, I am definitely in need of a little growth. 

Images: Giphy (6); Unsplash

5 Myths About Therapy, Debunked

The other week at work, we had a new guy. Within two minutes of meeting me, he told me that he did not believe in therapy and that people “just needed to be more self-aware.” Ignorant (and completely random!) statement, I thought, and attempted to check out of the conversation. But no, not yet could I zone out, because for the rest of the hour we were forced to spend together, he proceeded to tell me about his tortured childhood and all of the mess that came from it. And what a mess it was. 🙂

Of course, I feel for this guy, but how the hell does he not realize how badly he needs therapy?! The irony was palpable—I mean, it truly felt like an SNL skit—and the interaction made me realize how many misconceptions about therapy must be out there. 

I spoke with clinical psychologist Dr. Zoe White to help us understand why myths like “people that need therapy aren’t self-aware” are so, so off. Dr. White works with Alma, which is “a community of therapists, coaches, and wellness professionals empowered with tools for better care.” Essentially, Alma gives therapists a community, and it also gives patients an easier way to find a mental healthcare provider. 

Here are the top five myths (or excuses… you know who you are) about therapy, debunked: 

1. There Needs To Be Something “Wrong” In Order To See A Therapist

This is probably the biggest misconception about therapy, and also the furthest from the truth. “I often work with people who don’t come in because something is ‘wrong’ with their lives in the current moment,” explains Dr. White. “Therapy is for anyone who wants to do a deep dive into themselves, their personal history, and interpersonal relationships. We’ll explore all of that, aim to achieve greater insight, and then decide whether or not change is something they’re looking for.” 

So, therapy is certainly not only for people who is feeling depressed about a certain life event or have a specific fear of flying they’d like to get over, as examples. It’s for anyone who is interested in developing a more mindful approach to life. 

2. It’s Not Fair That Whoever I’m Talking About In Therapy Isn’t There To Defend Themself

Headed to therapy in a few minutes and look forward to talking about some of you in great detail.

— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) January 28, 2020

AKA you feel bad for constantly sh*t talking the same person when they will inherently have no dog in the fight, given that they aren’t even in the room. Dr. White, however, basically says that this doesn’t matter. “I’m working with the person in the room: their perspective and their experience. It’s all about examining how the dynamics and patterns in his/her life relates to how he or she is experiencing a complex moment with another person in their life.” 

In other words, it really doesn’t matter if your needy and annoying friend is ACTUALLY needy and annoying (she is). It’s all about how you experience their neediness (what about it triggers you?) and how to react to it in a mindful (stop rolling your eyes) way.

3. It’s A Sign Of Weakness

“Of course I’m biased, but I look at seeking help as a sign of strength. I go to therapy myself!,” says Dr. White. “Allowing yourself to push through the stigma surrounding therapy and realize that I want, deserve, and need support is certainly no sign of weakness.” 

To put this in millennial terms: therapy is just one part of “self-care.” No one called you basic weak for publicly posting a bath bomb on Instagram, right? Your mind needs just as much help as your skin, and it’s about time we put a stop to this “no days off” mentality (I’m looking at you, annoying NYC male that posts his workouts every morning, but P.S. please text me back) and stop viewing prioritizing our mental health as “weak.” 

4. Therapists Are Silent And Judgmental

After all these years, it happened. I made my therapist cry. I can finally stop going

— Alyssa Limperis (@alyssalimp) December 31, 2019

“The perception that therapists are silent doesn’t seem to hold true these days,” explains Dr. White. “That’s a particular style born out of a particular tradition, which of course some people might benefit greatly from.” But a lot of people don’t, and it makes sense to have an aversion to spilling your guts to a silent lady with a resting bitch face staring back at you. And then having to pay for it. 

As far as having a fear of being judged, Dr. White says being honest with your therapist about such fears is actually super productive. “For me, it’s a privilege for someone to bring up a fear like that and work with it in the moment. That way we can explore the origins of it—are they feeling defensive, or what are they feeling? We’re able to translate that particular experience into their daily life.” 

And, just remember: your therapist sees you as a PATIENT. This isn’t Sunday brunch with your asshole roommate from college. The literal point is to be vulnerable. Worst case? You don’t like your therapist and get a new one. 

5. I’ll Feel Even More Crazy Once I Start Seeing A Therapist

Update. I did not nap in therapy. But I felt very seen when she said, "you must be exhausted." Also. She said I should go get the nachos I wanted and didn't get the other night. So I did. Overall, it was a productive session.

— Busy Philipps (@BusyPhilipps) January 16, 2020

This is the only misconception about therapy that holds some truth. Dr. White explains, “In therapy, we’re bringing to light issues that have been compartmentalized and not in your conscious mind. Sometimes the initial phase of talking about these issues can make you feel worse.” Like, yeah, therapy is not going to be sunshine and rainbows only. You have to work through the tough stuff to get to a more positive place. 

“Some sessions might be more supportive while others might be more powerful and/or painful. Aspects of therapy can be uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean you’re crazy. Change is rarely linear and it might often be difficult to see progress being made in the moment,” Dr. White says. So trust the process and know that you might have to feel worse before you can feel better. 

No, this wasn’t an #ad for Alma or therapy in general (though that would be cool, Dr. Sigmund Freud my Venmo is @sydneykaplan)—I just really want to stop dealing with you un-self-aware betches. So find yourself a therapist, and hop off my jock.

Images: / Shutterstock; yashar, alyssalimp, busyphilipps / Twitter

For more, subscribe to our NEW Diet Starts Tomorrow newsletter.

5 Ways To Fight Seasonal Depression This Winter

Every year in early November I feel personally attacked by a little thing called Daylight Saving Time. Though it’s said that it was put in place to reduce the use of electricity by extending daylight hours, the effects can feel anything but sunny for late risers like myself who are lucky to see eight hours of actual sunlight. If you tend to feel more sluggish and sadder during this time of the year, you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder or SAD, a type of depression that usually happens in the fall and/or winter and is more likely to affect women over the age of 20, according to Dr. Jenny Taitz, clinical psychologist and author of How To Be Single And Happy. Dr. Taitz and I discussed some strategies to combat SAD and help you to feel your best, even when the weather and amount of light are literally the worst.

1. Find The Light

It’s not just you—there’s a science behind why you feel so sh*tty during the fall and winter months. According to Dr. Taitz, “Shorter days and reduced daylight can impact the brain and lead to feeling more lethargic, sad, and hopeless.” One of the best ways to target the problem is to seek out natural sunlight whenever possible, even with a short walk around the block. Another effective method is to purchase a light box designed specifically to treat people with SAD. The light emitted from the boxes mimics natural sunlight and produces effects in the brain that aid emotional regulation. Dr. Taitz notes that in many cases your doctor may be able to prescribe a light box that’s covered by insurance, but adds that there is a specific protocol to follow when using a light box, so it’s best to consult with your physician rather than treating yourself.

2. Watch Your Diet

If you’re anything like me, you may find yourself craving sweets and carbs every day more so than usual during this time of the year. This is because people with SAD tend to eat more foods that are rich in carbohydrates. As much as it pains me to type this, it’s a good idea to cut down on the carbs and stick to a diet rich in fruits and vegetables in order to combat depression. Studies have also found a link between SAD and low levels of vitamin D, so another useful strategy is taking vitamin D supplements or eating foods that are rich in vitamin D like eggs, salmon, and wild mushrooms.

3. Resist The Urge To Retreat

Because you aren’t feeling your best, you may feel tempted to stay at home and watch Schitt’s Creek until the next iteration of Daylight Saving Time retreat into yourself. To the extent you’re able, fight this urge and stick to a regular routine of seeing friends and family or doing something else you normally love to do. Dr. Taitz works with patients to create an “antidepressant schedule” consisting of things like plans with friends or a workout class that keeps them active and engaged. We are social creatures and being around other people helps to counteract the isolation and loneliness that SAD breeds.

4. Keep It Moving

Because our energy is lower during this time of year, it can be hard to summon the strength to get out of bed, let alone make it to a barre class. However, exercising not only boosts mood and focuses the mind, it also helps to maintain your circadian rhythm, which, when disrupted, is thought to bring about SAD symptoms. Ideally, if you can work out outside, you’ll not only get the benefits of exercise, you’ll also be exposed to natural light. If that’s not possible, then just stick to any routine that gets you moving.

5. Seek Professional Help

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, doing any of the above may feel downright impossible. If that’s the case, it’s time to seek help from a professional who can diagnose you and help you come up with a treatment plan. Dr. Taitz suggests cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which teaches you to notice your thought patterns: “I always encourage people to see emotional setbacks as opportunities rather than stuck points—rally your courage and problem solve,” she says. Many people suffering from SAD find that certain antidepressants can work wonders on symptoms. A doctor can tell you which medicine may be right for you and how long to take it, as antidepressants may take time to kick in and should generally not be stopped cold turkey.

If you’re feeling less than stellar this time of year, know you’re far from alone. SAD is treatable and you don’t have to spend the next few months in a dark hole. What other coping strategies do you use to combat SAD during the winter months? Let me know in the comments.

Images: Joshua Rawson-Harris / Unsplash; Giphy (5)

What Postpartum Psychosis Is Actually Like

I have bipolar II, so I knew, even before I got pregnant, that I would have postpartum depression. It was a foregone conclusion, like your iPhone slowing down as soon as the new one’s announced, or y’know, a depressed person getting postpartum depression. This was not going to be a shock.

When I did get pregnant, it was ON. My therapist and I started to prepare for my inevitable transition from Depression Classic™ to Depression New—Now With 100% More Child™. We trained for it like a depression marathon, only there was zero exercise, but still a whole lot of carbo-loading. We talked about medication, self-care, and building a support system. We talked about how our sessions would work in the first few weeks and maybe there could be a few home visits too. But we never talked about it being anything other than PPD. There were mentions of postpartum psychosis and anxiety, because PPD was the goal—it was the darkness at the end of the tunnel. 

Throughout my pregnancy I was reminded to “watch out” for signs of postpartum depression. The problem was, I didn’t know the difference between PPD and regular D. I’ve lived with manic depression for years, one could say I was quite the depression maven, but that would be extremely weird and unhealthy, but I was! I assumed the key distinction between the two would be the amount of crying.

When it came to postnatal mental health, the main focus during my appointments was the “Baby Blues” and how it makes you cry a lot. But what we really should have been talking about is how the term “Baby Blues” is bullsh*t and should be renamed to “The Crying Out All The Moisture In Your Body Oh God Please Make It Stop Reds.” It felt as though most of these materials and classes were aimed at people who didn’t have a mental illness or had never experienced clinical depression, both of which I find deeply disturbing. The point is, as an already severely depressed person, I didn’t know which “signs” to “look out for.” That’s like telling a nineteen-year-old me to look out for red flags in the men I dated. How do you expect me to do that when they’re all one giant red flag?!

I went off my medication for my pregnancy. I regret it now, but at the time I was scared and confused. There were no official guidelines for lithium during pregnancy, and every time I thought I had a handle on what to do, a new study or classification would come out and rip the handle out of my hands. The medication goalposts kept changing, so I decided to wean off under the careful monitoring of my psychiatrist. I fell into a deep depression early on. From there it just kept getting worse, and as my stomach grew so did my feelings of guilt and shame—how could someone LUCKY enough to get pregnant now be DEPRESSED and NOT WANTING TO BE PREGNANT? 

I felt confused and ridiculous, but more than that I felt lonely. There’s not a lot of information about pre-natal and during-natal depression. And when it came to discussing PPD, the most I’d received during my entire pregnancy was a one-sheeter and a leaflet. I also took a childbirth prep class where the instructor played a video on postpartum depression, but before doing so, polled the class on whether they wanted to watch it because it may be a “bit of a bummer.” The issue with PPD isn’t the lack of information, it’s the distribution. 

I’m lucky to have a therapist who I’ve been with for years, who understands my mental state and manages my medication. And I’m lucky I made it through most of my pregnancy without anything dangerous happening. I spoke to my therapist a week before giving birth—by that time I was experiencing suicidal ideation and we agreed I’d get right back on my meds after birth, maybe even a higher dose. This seemed like a solid plan as it was clear PPD was on its way. But we’d been training for the wrong thing and I was in for a shock.

The first day back from the hospital I cried. I cried more in that day than I’ve ever cried in my life. I cried so hard I gagged. It felt endless, and at some point, I thought “I guess this is my life now. I will go through the rest of my life suffocated by tears and overwhelming grief.” And that was all perfectly normal. Two weeks later, it all went wrong.

I woke up feeling wired, like I’d already had a gallon of caffeine. The baby was crying so I fed and changed her. I put her in her (now massively dangerous and recalled) rocker and watched her from the sofa. I’d only left the apartment once for a short walk with the baby and my husband. I couldn’t bring myself to leave alone. I felt safe inside. Outside was evil. People were outside. I had started to develop agoraphobia but everyone, including myself, put it down to “just being a new mom.” My husband would drive me to a postpartum group every Tuesday and I’d ask him to stay and wait outside because I was vibrating with anxiety. Every moment in that group was torture. The other moms and babies with their talking and crying, I hated it and them. It’s important to note here that this venomous behavior is not my modus operandi. I am normally a kind, funny, generous person and you’re just going to have to take my word for it.

I knew how depression felt, I knew how mania felt, but I couldn’t quite grasp what was happening to me. I felt different but I couldn’t describe it. A couple more weeks passed. I had quit the group and spent all my time indoors. But in a few days my husband would be returning to work and every time I thought about it, I cried. These weren’t hormonal, “normal” tears, these were terrified tears. I knew something wasn’t right, but I’d also convinced myself this was just a “new mom thing” and that everyone had fantasies of murdering or being murdered by someone trying to kill their baby. I was filled with so much anxiety and paranoia it felt like I had electricity for blood. I was deathly afraid of being left alone with my baby for fear of something bad happening to her, and for that something to be me. 

I cried and begged for my husband to not go back to work. I told him I couldn’t look after our baby and I was scared of myself. As much as he sympathized and understood he still needed to go back to work because, money. I don’t have any family here and we didn’t have any childcare, so I decided to join another postpartum group; this one was a fifteen-minute walk away. Before my husband went back to work, we decided to do a dry run of the fifteen-minute walk. I still hadn’t left the apartment by myself with the baby and, unbeknownst to me, was deep in the throes of agoraphobia. But once again, I assumed this is how every new mother feels and acts – like they want to rip their skin off and carry out a murder-suicide on every person who walks too close to them. For me, if it wasn’t PPD then it was “just mom things.” The only mental illness I’d been somewhat “educated” on for postpartum was depression, so if I didn’t have depression, then I didn’t have an illness. 

We did the dry run and I was ok. Sweaty, but ok. The overwhelming anxiety had me sweating profusely. Once again, you’ll have to take my word for it, but I’m usually not a sweaty person. When the day came, I felt stable but nervous. I asked a friend if she could talk to me on the phone as I walked there because I needed to think of something that wasn’t dying defending my baby’s life or bursting into flames. My friend had a five-year-old daughter and had been to postpartum groups. I panted at her down the phone “did you hate the other babies when they screamed because it would disturb your baby?” She said, “My baby was one of the screaming babies.” I made it to the group, drenched in all the moisture in my body. Everything was going fine, but towards the end I felt it, a madness, surging through my body. I grabbed my baby, who was sleeping in her car seat, put her in the stroller and bolted. I was so panicked I didn’t even buckle her in. I ran, jostling my tiny baby from side-to-side. I prioritized getting home over her safety, and as I ran, I thought (and I don’t say use this word lightly) “I’m fucking crazy.”

Going to doctors didn’t help because they’d see “bipolar II” on my chart, and it was easy to dismiss my erratic behavior as a hypomanic episode. But I knew what those felt like and this wasn’t that. I cried and begged doctors to see me. I was told it would be a month before the next appointment, “I don’t have a month, I don’t even have a day” I cried down the phone. They said there was nothing they could do. I had now been in, what my therapist diagnosed as, a state of high-functioning psychosis for seven months. I finally saw an endocrinologist, a very old, white man who had previously claimed my issue was that I wasn’t taking my meds because I was mentally ill and prone to that behavior. He’d made this assessment before he’d even met me. I didn’t want to meet him in person, but I had to. There was no one else. After several blood tests and neck scans, it turns out I had a relatively rare postpartum thyroid condition that was set off by Hashimoto’s disease which apparently, I also had. And there was no cure. I just had to wait for the psychosis to go away on its own, which is the wildest sh*t I’ve ever heard. Waiting for PSYCHOSIS to go away on its own like it’s a wart, or hopefully the spider that’s currently chilling in the corner of my bedroom. 

After feeling literally insane for seven months all while being gaslit by doctors and looking after an infant, I decided to do my own investigation. I borrowed a book from the library called The Thyroid Solution by Ridha Arem, an endocrinologist based in Houston, Texas. In it, Arem talks extensively on how this postpartum thyroid condition affects people’s mental health. There were countless stories of women who, like me, had lost their minds and not been believed. Women whose husbands had left them because they were “crazy” or because their personalities had changed, and they weren’t “the woman I married” (side note: why are men?) These women had no idea what was happening to them, they’d just given birth and now they felt completely out of control. It was heartbreaking, but they only knew about postpartum depression and maybe postpartum anxiety, so in their minds, this was them. And that was me. 

At no point during your pregnancy does someone tell you there is a chance of a total personality change; they do but only in terms of like “you’ll be born a mother” to which I give a hearty Logan Roy style “f*ck off!” I’d spent seven months getting gaslit and scrambling for answers. I knew this wasn’t postpartum depression and I knew it wasn’t my mental illness, but I also knew this birth had changed me on a cellular level .

We will always need a wider and more honest conversation about postpartum recovery, both physical and mental. And even though PPD is the most talked about postpartum illness, it’s still not talked about enough. There’s more to postpartum than depression and anxiety, there’s psychosis, OCD, bipolar, PTSD, Hashimoto’s, and a lot more. We need just as much care and attention put into postpartum recovery as we do during pregnancy. The pain doesn’t go away after we’ve given birth—for many of us, it’s only just begun. We need better access to maternal health services, better maternal mental health care, and most urgently, better black maternal health care. We need medical professionals to give us more information and options for postpartum recovery, but most of all, when we tell them we’re unwell, we need them to believe us. Especially black women who are three to four times more likely to die during or after pregnancy than white women

My child is now thirteen months old, and while I may not be as sweaty or paranoid, I still have agoraphobia and, of course, still have depression and hypomania. I get regular blood tests to monitor my thyroid and haven’t had any flare ups since. Some days I wake up scared that that switch will flip again, and I’ll have to walk around out of my mind for god knows how long. But even if that did happen, at least I have a diagnosis and this time I’ll know that that’s not me and that I won’t be like that forever

Images: Alex Pasarelu / Unsplash

How Much Does Timing Matter In A Relationship? A Dating Expert Weighs in

Every time a relationship ends before we even got to really date officially, a friend always tries to console me by saying something along the lines of, “the timing just wasn’t right.” And, until now, I genuinely believed them. So what happened that made me call bullsh*t on this whole “it’s all about timing” phenomenon, you ask? A few months ago, my work crush gave a presentation at my department’s monthly meeting and then we all went out for drinks after. Let’s just say our night didn’t end when happy hour did. 

Anyway, we’ve been seeing each other pretty consistently since then and happily agreed to be exclusive, but something still felt a little off. So in the most cool girl way possible, I finessed a regular conversation into a DTR talk and, two weeks later, I still don’t really know where we stand. I know he likes me, I know he isn’t seeing other people, and I know he’s great. But here’s the thing, we aren’t dating-dating because he’s still reeling a little bit from a relatively recent breakup. In other words: bad timing.

For the first time in my life, I don’t feel weird breaking out my existential Carrie Bradshaw voice and asking, “Is timing really everything in a relationship, or is it just an excuse?” So I asked Jenny Taitz, clinical psychologist and author of How To Be Single and Happy, for her professional thoughts on the subject. 

Is Timing As Important As We Think?

I hate myself for saying this, but yes and no. If you’ve ever seen Sliding Doors, the only point at which Gwyneth Paltrow has ever been a relatable human being, you know that the timing of life’s random series of events can define the course of your entire life. Of course, when I ask if timing is really all we’ve cracked it up to be in this article, I don’t mean it so literally, but that movie is kind of applicable to real life. Dr. Taitz says, “My take is: rather than mull over if it is or isn’t a thing, ask if analyzing this or fighting for something to work is helpful? If someone tells you that the relationship won’t work because of timing, why fight that? You deserve more.” She definitely has a point, but I can’t help but think my—and a lot of other people’s—situation is a little more complicated than that. Of course, if someone I wasn’t that into said timing is an issue, I’d be more than happy to part ways without giving a single sh*t, but nothing is ever that easy with someone you like. So, yes, timing is important, but it shouldn’t be the thing making decisions in the relationship.

What’s More Important Than Timing?

I’m only asking because it’s human nature, for me at least, to focus only on the bad and push the good aside. So even though everything is pretty perfect for me right now, this one little thing sucks and that’s the only thing I can think about. Dr. Taitz reminded me that there are two other things that matter in the beginning of a relationship more than timing does: emotional availability and maturity. Okay, so this makes sense, and I think the former is definitely tied to timing. A guy can like you and only you, but his recent breakup is keeping him emotionally closed. Dr. Taitz then read my mind and offered, “A person could have just ended something yet have peace of mind and heart space.” So that’s why I’m not throwing in the towel just yet. Just because things aren’t perfect right now, they’re close enough that I am hopeful he’ll gain the peace of mind and heart space to slowly change his mind about not wanting to be in a relationship right now. Am I being too optimistic here? Time will tell, I guess.

What Are Other Factors That Can Determine Whether Or Not A Relationship Will Work?

Dr. Taitz says that being able to manage your feelings and having good communication is paramount, and I definitely agree. We’ve all gone out with someone we thought we were dating, but turns out we weren’t and we didn’t find that out until months later because their communication skills are worse than those of a newborn. We have to remember to appreciate a person’s ability to communicate how they’re feeling even if what they’re saying isn’t what we were hoping to hear. Like, if they are saying, “I want to take things really slow because I just got out of a relationship,” it doesn’t mean they are a terrible person for not being in the same place emotionally as you. It may be disappointing to hear, but it takes maturity to say that, rather than to just give a vague answer and lead you on for months. 

What Should People Feeling Lost In A New Relationship Do?

Unfortunately, there’s nothing specific you can do to fix things. If there were, everyone would wake up and go to sleep smiling instead of weeping into a bag of SkinnyPop while watching Sleepless in Seattle. At the end of the day, the only thing you can really do is be cool, collected, and communicative. So many people—myself included—get caught up in saying and/or not saying something because it’s considered taboo, but you know what? It’s 2019 and there are a lot worse things we could be doing than double texting, so I say f*ck it and say what you want to say. Dr. Taitz agrees and adds, “Remember that a relationship doesn’t define you and your happiness doesn’t hinge on the person you are with.” That sounds so obvious, but it’s definitely true. It’s really easy to lose sight of all of the great things going on in your life because some guy isn’t giving you what you feel like you want, need or deserve. Don’t let that be you! 

Look, at the end of the day, there is no perfect start to a relationship. It just doesn’t exist. For instance, two of my friends met while both properly blacked out, had drunken sex that night, and are now adding a heap of crap to their Bed, Bath & Beyond registry. Another pair of lovebirds met and started dating while one of them was fully in another relationship and now they are engaged. My point is, just because a relationship is a little unclear in the beginning does not mean the whole thing is doomed. More importantly, timing is not everything, and all you can do is communicate openly and honestly.

Images: Giphy (4); Unsplash

How The F*ck Do You Find A Therapist?

Seeking out a therapist to help with any number of mental health issues is something every functioning adult should know how to do. But, unfortunately, a lot of us don’t even know where to start when it comes to checking in with a feelings doctor, where to find one, or how and when to make an appointment. And it makes sense. Once you get over the stigma (that shouldn’t exist) of seeing a mental health professional, finding one isn’t exactly easy. And if you’re already feeling intimidated about going to a psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor, etc., the daunting process of finding the right one for you could turn you off completely. So that’s why I wanted to break the process of how to find a therapist down.

In the words of the coolest president ever, Barack Obama, “Too many Americans who struggle with mental health illnesses are still suffering in silence rather than seeking help, and we need to see it that men and women who would never hesitate to go see a doctor if they had a broken arm or came down with the flu, that they have that same attitude when it comes to their mental health.” Well said, you BAMF. So whether you just want to talk through some stress at work (because Tracy is driving you up a damn wall) or need to revisit the eating disorder your school bully prompted at age 8, or whatever other reason, here’s how to find a therapist in your area.

What Type Of Therapist Do You Need?

Knowing what you’re actually looking for in a therapist is the first step. According to WebMD:

Psychiatrists: “Doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of mental or psychiatric illnesses. They have medical training and are licensed to prescribe drugs. They are also trained in psychotherapy, or ‘talk’ therapy, which aims to change a person’s behaviors or thought patterns.”

Psychologists: “Doctoral degree (PhD or PsyD) experts in psychology. They study the human mind and human behavior and are also trained in counseling, psychotherapy, and psychological testing—which can help uncover emotional problems you may not realize you have.”

In other words, psychiatrists have medical training and can prescribe medication. Psychologists can’t prescribe you stuff. You might not need to see a psychiatrist, depending on what you’re going for.

Mental Health Counselor: Intimidated by a psychologist or psychiatrist? There are other options out there. Mental health counselors usually hold at least a master’s degree and can help guide you through a sh*tty job or relationship. (Just make sure the person you’re seeing is licensed and ask about their education.) They’re also required by state law to have at least 3,000 hours of post-master’s experience related to counseling, so it isn’t just, say, someone like me with no formal schooling giving you life advice that may or may not be terrible.

Social Worker: Yeah, so, social workers aren’t just the people who come to take people’s kids away when CPS gets called, as Law & Order: SVU help people copemay have led you to believe. They can also with issues in their lives, including—you guessed it—mental health issues.

There are also addiction counselors, religious counselors, family and marriage counselors, and more. Basically, no matter what type of professional you choose, make sure they have state licensing, postgraduate degree(s), clinical experience, and see if they have any published articles. That way you know they’re legit.


View this post on Instagram


whatever brings you inner peace ?? |@betches @natcpod

A post shared by diet starts tomorrow (@dietstartstomorrow) on

Take Names And Make Lists

Some insurance may cover a few sessions with a therapist, but many won’t. But, either way, your insurance should have a list of accepted providers that you can look through which should help narrow down your search from just Googling “how to find a therapist in my area”. You can find that list of providers by either going online and logging in (if your insurance company has an online portal, which most should, given that it’s 2019), or by calling them and asking for it. You can also call area universities’ psychology and psychiatry departments and ask around. Ask for referrals from friends and family, if you’re comfortable; don’t forget to put feelers out to area hospitals and clinics, who know a ton of these people. The most important thing, though, is not to try and bargain hunt for a therapist via Craigsist or street flyers. (I don’t know if people actually do that, I’m just saying.) Also, even though it seems tempting, don’t just choose the cheapest person. Treat your mental health like you’d treat the health of any other body part. You wouldn’t go to some back-alley, part-time doctor with an online degree for a broken leg, would you? Probs not. So don’t do that with your therapist, either.

Know What To Expect

Once you’ve narrowed down who you want to see and when you want to see them, it’s helpful to know what exactly to expect during that first meeting. Are you going to have a miraculous breakthrough and never need therapy ever again? Probably not—and that’s fine (and also kind of the point of therapy anyway). Therapists of all kinds may employ different tactics depending on your issues. There are three common types of treatment your therapist may use:

CBT: CBT, or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, is, according to Real Simple,”the most research-backed treatment for anxiety disorders and depression. It’s based partly on the idea that distorted thinking is a main cause of mental distress.” So basically, if you’re heading to see a therapist because you’re feeling down and generally depressed, a therapist using CBT will ask you about certain situations then identify the negative/sh*tty thoughts you have about yourself. If you’re thinking, “I don’t have a boyfriend because I’m fat/have adult acne” your therapist will pinpoint those thoughts and help you flip them into something like “I don’t have a boyfriend because I’M A STRONG INDEPENDENT WOMAN WHO ISN’T AFRAID TO INHALE PIZZA.” (I paraphrase; I am not a doctor.) If you’re dealing with anxiety, a therapist using CBT usually uses exposure therapy, i.e. making you do or face the thing you hate/are scared of.


View this post on Instagram


comment something positive below | @kayla_itsines

A post shared by diet starts tomorrow (@dietstartstomorrow) on

ACT: According to Real Simple, “If your therapist recommends Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) … you’ll likely learn various mindfulness techniques and exercises. ACT patients are taught to notice and accept challenging thoughts and feelings.” So instead of focusing on the anxiety/pain/substance you’re abusing, a therapist treating you with ACT therapy will have you use mental focus and exercises to accept that you think that way and adjust your actions accordingly.

DBT: DBT aka Dialectical Behavior Therapy is “an in-depth treatment that combines CBT with other approaches and addresses suicidal and self-harm behaviors, borderline personality disorders, eating disorders, and substance abuse problems,” according to Real Simple. This is obviously for more serious cases, but it works to have you focus on your specific problem—say, an eating disorder—then understand how your personal experiences have shaped/influenced you acting that particular way. Obviously, it’s a lot more in-depth and science-y than that, but this is me, your friendly Betches writer, trying to explain it to you, k?

More than likely, your therapist will use one of the above if you’re dealing with depression and/or anxiety. Of course, they’ll also be a sounding board for anything else going on.

After your visit, be sure to ask yourself how you feel. Are your comfortable with your therapist? Do you feel like they’re really listening? Are they asking lots of questions? Are they giving really good or really sh*tty advice? It’s important to know that finding a therapist is a lot like dating or looking for a job—you might not click with the first one you see. And that’s okay! It’s super important to have good chemistry with your therapist and feel like you can trust them. If you don’t like the first person you visit, don’t write off therapy altogether. Go back to the drawing board and find a different one.

No matter who you choose on your therapy journey, recognize that the most important part of this whole thing is you and how you feel. We’re rooting for you, we’re all rooting for you!

Images: Verne Ho / Unsplash; dietstartstomorrow / Instagram

Gwyneth Paltrow Doesn’t Live With Her Husband, And We’re All For It

If you’re a neat and organized female who has ever been invited to a man’s apartment, you already know you’re in for a hot f*cking mess before you even go inside. You know who may feel this even harder than I do? My true Khaleesi, Gwyneth Paltrow, who recently revealed that she and her husband of nine months don’t actually live together. While some are utterly shooketh over their unconventional setup, I am in awe and needed to know more, so I paid five pounds for a The Times subscription to read her full interview on the matter. And about a quarter of the way into the world’s longest article, the British publication reports, “Interestingly, she and don’t live together yet, though he is close by. He sleeps at his own house when his children, Brody and Isabella, stay; on the other four nights he’s chez Paltrow.” So why don’t the lovebirds—she the founder of the lifestyle brand exclusively targeted at the .03% and he the co-creator of TV’s most terrifying shows, American Horror Story and Glee—live together? I imagine it’s because every piece of furniture in her home is white and her OCD starts to act up when too many people breathe on it. But contrary to my theory, Gwyneth has no shame in revealing the real reason and I have to say, I’m about it. 

The reason for their living arrangement can be attributed to the concept of polarity, which her intimacy teacher, Michaela Boehm, says keeps the relationship “fresh.” Jesus f*cking Christ, an intimacy teacher? Is this an actual job title? *Checks LinkedIn* So, like, does this make Doreah an intimacy teacher then? I mean, she def taught the Mother of Dragons a thing or two about being ~intimate.~ Anyway, while I literally can’t stop laughing at the fact that there is an actual person out there calling herself Gwyneth Paltrow’s intimacy teacher, I don’t totally disagree with her MO. She’s basically saying that spending just a little time apart keeps the mystery, vibrancy, and passion alive, which is def fair. I think the reason Gwenyth’s admission was, and is, still making headlines is because it’s such an unconventional take on marriage coming from such an absurdly traditional woman. I mean, she’s authored not one, but five cookbooks and looked more traditional than apple f*cking pie on each cover. The thing is, though, Gwyn isn’t really doing anything that crazy, according to Dr. Catherine Aponte, clinical psychologist and author of A Marriage of Equals.

View this post on Instagram

In honor of our @goopmen launch, I want to shout out some of the most special men in my life (we also named our inaugural G. Label Men’s after them). @bradfalchuk @rstrauss16 @danldees @tleness @miguel_tied @tonywoods7 #jakepaltrow. Follow @goopmen and sign up for the newsletter at From now on, we will have a Men tab on our site as well as a monthly newsletter devoted to you—from health to travel to an occasional circadian-rhythm-supporting lightbulb. We’re kicking it off with a special newsletter edited by our great friends and goopfellas podcast cohosts, chef Seamus Mullen and functional medicine practitioner Dr. Will Cole. We’re also launching G. Label Men—a collection of quality classic knits made in Italy. So ask yourself: Are you crystal-curious? And even if you’re not—are you, simply, curious? About the world, how to fit into it, what it means to live in 2019. We all get a little lost. We all wrestle our own shifting paradigms. We all want to grow and be present in our lives. Guidance from a clinical nutritionist, a psychotherapist, an intuitive, even a travel guide to the best adventure escapes can be an awfully welcome thing when you’re searching for some grounding. goop doesn’t claim to have all the answers, but we’re pretty committed to looking for them. Besides, men can make cookies with avocados instead of butter, too. Let’s not put people in boxes. So click on stuff, read stuff—fuck it, go on a cleanse. You deserve it. And most of all, welcome to goop. Love, GP

A post shared by Gwyneth Paltrow (@gwynethpaltrow) on

Maybe she’s onto something and we shouldn’t be so quick to judge. Maybe every single married person is dying for a night or two off from their relationship to catch up on Planet Earth while deep-throating a burrito in bed, but everyone is too afraid to bring it up to their partners because of all the judgmental, behind-on-the-times Charlotte York Goldenblatt’s out there. Look, not spending every waking second with your spouse is not a domestic crime, okay? Wanting some me time doesn’t make me a terrible partner. On the contrary, it just confirms that I am a sane person for not crawling into a hole and losing my sh*t for missing one second of my lobster’s life if I, like, blink. Dr. Aponte says, “To co-create a marriage that works, a husband and wife must maintain a simultaneous perspective of themselves both as individuals and as a couple. This arrangement is this couples’ way of ‘being in this together’ while also having individual life plans.” This is an instance where I have nothing smarter to add, so I’ll just say “preach” and move on.

Generally, if I’m ever talking about Gwyneth Paltrow, it’s usually to make fun of something stupid she did like promoting the bullsh*t hormonal benefits of sticking a jade egg up your vagina or naming her children Apple and Moses. However, today I am here to commend the woman who sold me on an $85 silk pillowcase and convinced me that Great Expectations is cool. Look, admitting your life is anything but perfect in the Instagram tornado we call the world isn’t easy, but since we literally all know that it’s all fake, why not just cut the sh*t and be real?! That doesn’t mean you have to start posting pics of you and your S.O. arguing over dinner, but there is absolutely no reason to be out here pretending you live in a perfect relationship because we know it’s all a bunch of crap. I have so much respect for Gwyneth now that she’s trailblazing a realistic way to live out your dreams! In fact, Dr. Aponte says that married people should be spending some time apart if they want to retain at least a shred of their individuality. Put more eloquently, she says, “Having time alone is an affirmation of having status as an individual and having one’s own life plan in the context of being a committed relationship.” And that makes sense because we need to establish some sort of balance between being our own selves and part of a couple.

Yes, I’m fully aware that not everyone can afford to pay two separate rents like the Paltrow-Falchuks do, but there are less expensive/elaborate ways to have slightly separate lives when you want. For instance, go the Carrie Bradshaw route and just kindly let your partner know that you’d like some alone time and then just, like, go in your room and shut the door. Boom. You’re living à la Gwyneth without spending a single dollar. Genius!

At the end of the day, the problem isn’t wanting a day or two to yourself, it’s that shows like This Is Us have trained us to feel guilty for needing a second of alone time. Gwyneth even says, “Oh, all my married friends say that the way we live sounds ideal and we shouldn’t change a thing.” But really, there’s no need to be jealous because having being part of a couple while having slightly separate lives is an option for everyone, not just Pepper Pots. The only issue with this kind of arrangement is that it’s really stigmatized. Dr. Aponte says, “The stigma associated with this arrangement is most likely due to the perceived threat of affirming one’s individuality in the traditionally defined marriage of being individuals. It is a threat to the idea that we are two who become one in marriage.” I mean, yes in every sense of the word. Let’s not forget that we live in the year 2019 and there are a million and a half types of relationships out there to explore and embrace. To finish it on a strong and feminist note, Dr. Aponte adds, “I think this stigma is particularly aimed at women who wish to have careers (not just jobs).” As sad as I am to agree, I completely agree and we need to do something about this. 

My best friend from childhood, for instance, is climbing the corporate latter at one of the East Coast’s largest real estate firms, but she literally just quit because she got engaged and “wants to focus on her marriage.” After I picked my jaw up off the ground, I asked her why in hell she can’t make a little space in her enormous Ivy League brain to be an amazing wife and #getdatmoney, and she literally just kind of shrugged and changed the subject. Because I want to preserve our lifelong friendship, I didn’t press too much harder, but I am truly not okay after hearing this.

More women (and men, honestly) need to come forward when it comes to saying how you really feel about your marriage and individuality. Like, if Gwyneth says that embracing your desire for alone time is ok, you better believe it’s legit. So if you feel like you need a minute, take it, people!

Images: Instagram; Giphy (3)