I recently celebrated the 3 year anniversary of breaking up with my Type-A Self. The catalyst for this break up was realizing, in a peak-pandemic postpartum fog in the summer of 2020, that the most toxic relationship in my life is the one with my Type-A Self. This breakup was necessary to see that I can only be my best self for others (the best mom I can be, wife, sister, daughter, friend, employee, etc) if I am my best self for me. Spoiler alert: My Type-A Self is not my best self (she’s a coping mechanism!)

What is the Type-A Self? It is the ego inside me who believes in the illusion of control – that I can control the circumstances and outcomes in my life.

In my life, 2020 was a perfect storm: I had my first child, experienced baby blues followed by postpartum depression and anxiety (PPDA). The pandemic started, social and political unrest ensued, and for the first time in my life I began realizing and processing a trauma in my life (something about becoming a mom will do that to a person!)

I remember reaching out to my doctor about the PPDA and trying to rationalize it saying, “I don’t know if I feel this way because of having a baby, or because of the pandemic, or going ‘back to work’ and having no childcare etc,” and her response was: “It doesn’t matter why you feel this way. The fact is that you feel this way and you don’t have to. There are things that can help.”

I will forever be grateful to my doctor for de-stigmatizing the darkness and overwhelm I felt and my need to rationalize it. With her help, I started medication and therapy. The medication helped get me to a place where thoughts didn’t feel overwhelming and that allowed me to begin processing all the things with my therapist.

Twenty-twenty was a difficult year but it was also an immense gift. It took a crisis to force me to get help. With that help, I began a journey of unpacking years of negative adaptive behaviors and thought patterns, most importantly realizing that my Type-A Self was a coping mechanism to seek the illusion of control in situations where I have absolutely no control. On top of that, I realized my Type-A Self is kind of a miserable person to be around, for myself included.

Breaking up with my Type-A Self is a work in progress: She likes to pop in from time to time and I have to remember why we broke up. Over the years I’ve developed what I call my Wellness Loop. These are the positive, reinforcing behaviors that make me feel my best, giving me resilience and helping me to accept the uncertainties of life. I believe that staying committed to my Wellness Loop keeps the Type-A Self at bay and has helped me to better “go with the flow” of life’s craziness (i.e. feel much less anxious about it all and be more resilient.)

Here’s a peek at what my Wellness Loop looks like (disclaimer: everyone’s will look different!): It starts with getting good sleep (which involves setting myself up for success with good sleep!!) →morning quiet time and spiritual nurturing (devotion, meditation/prayer, silence, contemplation) →when my spirit is nurtured, my mind feels stronger. I foster mental health with “tech shabbats,” gratitude practice, journaling, and affirmations →Mental health leads to a more positive relationship with my body, as does daily physical movement, less caffeine & alcohol, eating good food →I am my best self when my spirit, mind, and body are nurtured, and this then allows me to be my best self for others like my family, friends, and the world →When these relationships are healthy and I’m giving back to my community, I sleep better at night → And then the Wellness Loop repeats!

The Wellness Loop, for me, is a proud affirmation that I MUST take care of myself to take care of others. As a woman (mother, sister, wife etc etc) there is a huge societal complex with putting ourselves first. Because of this, so many of us suffer in silence. Our Type-A Self dominates, making us miserable and getting in the way of our relationships and wellness.

We can’t take the best care of anybody else unless we are taking the best care of ourselves; that is, nurturing our best selves. Step one: break up with Type-A Self.