*For the month of May, honoring Mental Health Awareness, the Center of Excellence for Integrated Care, a program of the Foundation for Health Leadership and Innovation, will host a series of blogs following Alex. These weekly journal entries from Alex begin in 2032 when Alex is 18 years old. Over the month Alex will reflect on the benefits gained from living in a system with preventive mental health policies as they grew up.
*Week 4 flashes forward to Alex reflecting on life moving forward with a new family.
“Life has been sooo busy lately. I barely have time to really sit back and appreciate all that has happened in my life. I guess the biggest update is that Frankie and I got married, and we are expecting a baby in the next five months. I can hardly believe I will have that level of responsibility – to actually take care of another human being and be responsible for that person…it feels a little overwhelming at times. My running and working out continues to help me when I feel overwhelmed. The other day I ran the farthest I have ever gone, and I am considering training for a marathon. I know it always helps me to have a goal to work towards, plus I have found some good friends in the running group I joined who also have young families. I don’t know how they find the time to train and take care of their families, but they are so encouraging and supportive that it seems possible.
Frankie has felt a little more stressed than I have, understandably so, but we are working through this change in our relationship together. We sought out a therapist who specializes in couples and family relationships just to help us navigate our expectations and this shift in our relationship. It has been helpful to talk about how we see parenting and how we balance the parenting responsibilities while maintaining our relationship as a couple. I have a feeling we will see our therapist a bit more even after the baby is born just to help with the adjustment. I have learned that talking about our relationship on a preventive basis really helps us just be the best we can be for each other and for the other people in our lives. I have watched co-workers go through separations and divorces and it just seems so hard. I learned so much growing up talking with Sam over the years, that I figure why not do the same sort of preventive work with my marriage and soon-to-be new family. I am also grateful to know that we have the support of a therapist when the baby is born who will be focused on our attachment and relationship dynamics with the baby, as well as each other, and who will also be there for the baby as they grow up. Knowing we have that support during those preventive mental health well child exams built into our life is beyond reassuring.
I am so glad our world is far beyond the days when going to therapy was such a big deal. It really has been an amazing help to me over my life and will pay dividend for years to come.” Later, Alex