Therapy, Mental Health, & Self-Care as a Mother with Topsie VandenBosch

Podcast Episode #379: Therapy, Mental Health, & Self-Care as a Mother with Topsie VandenBosch

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Therapy, Mental Health, & Self-Care as a Mother with Topsie VandenBoschTopics

  1. Introducing our guest, Topsie VandenBosch [2:24]
  2. Looking for a therapist [9:13]
  3. High-functioning depression [15:33]
  4. Self-medication and addictive personality [21:37]
  5. SAHM transition [31:22]
  6. Options for therapy from home [38:48]
  7. Career mothers [46:04]
  8. Anxiety-induced insomnia tips [51:18]

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Therapy, Mental Health, & Self-Care as a Mother with Topsie VandenBosch Therapy, Mental Health, & Self-Care as a Mother with Topsie VandenBosch Therapy, Mental Health, & Self-Care as a Mother with Topsie VandenBosch

You’re listening to the Balanced Bites podcast episode 379.

Liz Wolfe: Welcome to the Balanced Bites podcast. I’m Liz; a nutritional therapy practitioner, and author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller Eat the Yolks; The Purely Primal Skincare Guide; and the online program Baby Making and Beyond. I live on a lake in the mystical land of the Midwest, outside of Kansas City.

My usual partner in podcast is Diane Sanfilippo; a certified nutrition consultant, and the New York Times bestselling author of Practical Paleo and the 21-Day Sugar Detox. Her newest book, Keto Quick Start, will release on January 1, 2019. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and fur kids.

We’re the co-creators of the Balanced Bites Master Class, and we’ve been bringing you this award-winning podcast for more than 7 years. We’re here to share our take on modern healthy living, answer your questions, and chat with leading health and wellness experts. Enjoy this week’s episode, and submit your questions at or watch the Balanced Bites podcast Instagram account for our weekly calls for questions. You can ask us anything in the comments.

Remember our disclaimer:  The materials and content within this podcast are intended as general information only, and are not to be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Before we get started, let’s hear from one of our sponsors.

Liz Wolfe: The Balanced Bites podcast is sponsored in part by the Nutritional Therapy Association. The NTA trains and certifies nutritional therapy practitioners and consultants (including me; I’m an NTP), emphasizing bio-individuality and the range of dietary strategies that support wellness. The NTA emphasizes local, whole, properly prepared nutrient dense foods as the key to restoring balance and enhancing the body’s ability to heal.

The NTA’s nutritional therapy practitioner program and fully online nutritional therapy consultant program empower graduates with the education and skills needed to launch a successful, fulfilling career in holistic nutrition. Registration is now open for February class, and you can learn more and save your seat by going to Don’t forget to check out the NTA’s annual conference, Roots, happening March 1 through 3 in Portland, Oregon. It’s one of the most empowering and educational holistic nutritional events of the year, and all are welcome.

1.  Introducing our guest, Topsie Vandenbosch [2:24]

Liz Wolfe: I am so thrilled today to have the wonderful, insightful, hilarious, Temitope Vandenbosch, or Topsie for short, back on the Balanced Bites podcast. We first spoke with Topsie in episode 374, and we got some really great feedback on that episode. So, I of course wanted to bring her on again for part two.

Topsie is a licensed mental health therapist and mindset business coach who helps female entrepreneurs overcome negative thought patterns and low self-confidence. Topsie has worked as a mental health clinician for 7 years, and she shares great tips with her community about anxiety, depression, and beyond. And she has extensive experience in treating both. While her messaging is focused on female entrepreneurs, all women benefit from her mental health expertise. Welcome back to the Balanced Bites podcast, Topsie. We are so excited to have you back.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so pumped to be here.

Liz Wolfe: I know you were just waiting; waiting to come back on and continue our conversation.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Oh my gosh. It was so good. So juicy. I just loved the response from your listeners. I just felt like they were really receptive, and I was actually quite surprised at how many people are so hungry to talk about mental health. Because honestly, it’s such a huge part of our lives. I don’t know why more people aren’t addressing it; talking about it.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. I mean, really, we should probably be talking about mental health as much as we talk about exercise or how healthy you're eating. It’s kind of that holy trinity. And people just forget about it.

Topsie Vandenbosch: They do. And I think, too, what happens is in this society we live in; I think things are slowly getting better. But I think people got used to speaking about it totally separately. And now, when I tell my clients; please don’t be ashamed to take medications. Would you tell a diabetic that they can’t take their insulin? And they’re like; well, no. I wouldn’t do that. And I’m like; it’s the same thing with your mental health.

But I still think there needs to be this different discussion going on in society about how we treat people who are being brave and they’re speaking about it. It’s almost like they get; I don’t know. Looked down upon for saying anything. So I think we just need to do a better job of supporting them.

Liz Wolfe: Well, it’s interesting. One thing I’ve noticed; and I can’t remember if we talked about this on the last podcast. These new commercials coming out with Michael Phelps, who talks about how he was this high performing guy in the pool, but he struggled with anxiety outside of the pool. And I’m like; that’s cool, because this is going to take some of the stigma away.

But it’s funny in real life; in my life, I’ve sought help from a therapist. And I have no problem talking about it on my social media or on the podcast. But it’s funny, because I was at tennis the other day, and I said something like; oh, my therapist. Because funny enough; actually this is kind of a funny story. My therapist actually plays tennis, so this is something that we talk to each other about. It’s great, because we can kind of relate. She understands what a good stress relief it is for me.

And the funny part was, my tennis team. I’m on a; like a 10-cap team for old ladies that want to have some competition. And we were actually playing her club. And I was like; oh it would be so funny if we ended up playing my therapist. And I felt like almost like there were crickets in the room. Like, I had been going to a therapist, and that was somehow weird. And it was just a very interesting moment for me. I don’t know what that was all about.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Yeah! And what was that like for you?

Liz Wolfe:  I actually felt guilt and shame in that moment, for sure. I was like; oh shoot. Now they think something about me. Now I feel like I have to explain myself or say something like; nothing’s really wrong with me, I just go because…

Topsie Vandenbosch: Right!

Liz Wolfe: So, making a lot of excuses. Like, anything is wrong with me. {laughs}

Topsie Vandenbosch: Right. But it just feels; and it’s funny because you can have the most confidence about that topic around anyone else. But as soon as you get some type of negative response, it’s interesting how we as humans we change. We’re like; well, I don’t want you to think this. And I don’t want you to think; we feel like we need to over explain. Because those negative reactions; really, they’re harmful. They are harmful. To your self-confidence. Self-esteem. Whatever.

Liz Wolfe: It’s very odd. And also, I observe just in every day life that for the most part, when people talk about seeking help, or a psychologist, or a therapist, they really are talking about it as something is wrong with my kid, or my husband, or myself, or whatever. Something is wrong. So we’re going to get help for that.

I don’t think seeking help means; I don’t know. Yes, of course. When something is wrong, you seek help. But that shame around, and that kind of shroud of darkness. I don’t think we need that.

Topsie Vandenbosch: No, we don’t. And I think, too. I think it’s important for people to remember; would you talk like that if you were to say; “Oh, I need to talk to my good friend about what’s going on with me.” You wouldn’t even think twice. That’s just normal conversation. And I think the same needs to happen when you're just seeking a professional, objective ear. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, that’s even better than your best friend, at times. Because this person doesn’t know about your life. They’re not an expert on your life; you are. Any therapist that tells you they’re an expert on your life, tell them to shove it. {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. Run the other way.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Yes.

Liz Wolfe: So interesting.

Topsie Vandenbosch: It is. It’s fascinating. And I think too, when I tell people what I do. I do get a variety of responses. And now, too, since I’ve been doing it for a while now. The varying responses I get I find that my snapbacks are quick. So if somebody says something; typically. It depends on the environment. But I typically say something. So, if it’s like a close family friend, and they say; especially my generation. And they say something negative, like; oh, you talk to crazy people. Oh, they’re going to get an earful.

Liz Wolfe: Nice.

Topsie Vandenbosch: They’re going to get an earful from me, and I don’t care whether or not it hurts their feelings, whatever. Because that’s not cool. There could be somebody in the circle that it’s taking them forever to get the courage to go speak to somebody. And with just that statement, that is so stigmatizing, you could potentially ruin that. Not that that’s your fault, per se. But I think we need to take ownership and responsibility of our words and how they could be harmful to others.

2. Looking for a therapist [9:13]

Liz Wolfe: I love that. 100%. I want to throw in; this is something that just popped into my head. And again, I can’t remember if we talked about this the first time you were here. I certainly intended to. When I was first thinking to myself; ok, I need to get some help. I was looking for psychologists and psychiatrists. And they’re few and far between where I was. So I felt like there weren’t very many options.

But then when my dear friend, Katrina, who is a counselor, she told me that therapists are not necessarily psychologists or psychiatrists. You have licensed professional counselors. You have social workers. There are people that are available. A therapist doesn’t mean a psychiatrist or psychologist. And a therapist is a lot; I mean, it’s not easy to find a great therapist. Sometimes you have to therapist shop a little bit. But they’re easier to find and easier to get in with. And do just as phenomenal of a job.

You could refer somebody; if you needed to step something up, you could refer somebody, right, to a psychiatrist or a psychologist?

Topsie Vandenbosch: Yeah. So your friend definitely; I can tell that you have lots of conversations with your friend, because you sound very knowledgeable. You explained that pretty well. So yeah, typically, if I have to escalate care. Which would mean somebody needs more than just counseling. Either it’s; A) they need psychological testing. Which I did not want to do, and which a lot of psychologists do. So that’s when I would refer out, but just for that piece. Not necessarily for the therapeutic part, unless a client indicated they wanted that for whatever reason.

So I’ve done that. And then, of course, I would refer them to a psychiatrist for medication evaluation. So yeah, you can, in your area, if you Google therapists or you Google license professional counselors. You can Google licensed social workers. You Google; those are the main ones. Marriage and family therapist, that’s another specialty. You can Google that and come up with, hopefully, so many options in your community. It doesn’t just have to be psychologists and psychiatrists.

A lot of psychiatrists don’t do individual therapy anymore. I know back in the day, they used to do both. The medication management and the therapy piece. But a lot of them just more so focus on the medication evaluation part. So, yeah, hopefully in your area you're able to find more options if that’s something that you are struggling with. Wondering; who can I go see?

Liz Wolfe: It’s funny. I think back to the Bob Newhart show, and this just shows; I’m like an 85-year-old woman at heart. Bob Newhart! {laughs}

Topsie Vandenbosch: You are not! {laughs} Who is that?

Liz Wolfe: Bob Newhart was a psychiatrist, and he would sit there with people, lying down on his couch. I’ll have to shoot you some clips of the show.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Please do. I’m so curious.

Liz Wolfe: Nick at Nite from back in the day. This is what I was watching instead of Sesame Street. Mary Tyler Moore and the Bob Newhart show. Andy Griffith. This is my upbringing. This is why I am who I am.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Oh, this is so funny! {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: It’s so great. Bob Newhart is the greatest.

Topsie Vandenbosch: I love it.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. It’s fantastic. And it’s ok to shop around, right? I’m not saying people should look for somebody that’s going to tell them exactly what they want to hear. But if you don’t feel like you're really connected to the person that you're speaking with, it’s ok to move on and look for somebody else, right?

Topsie Vandenbosch: Yes, absolutely. 100%. I think that it’s the same way as looking for your primary care doctor. It’s the same way you would look for any other professional that you want them to help you with something. It’s a service. And if you are feeling like you're not being heard. Or even if it’s not about; if you're feeling that there is a disconnect in the room and you don’t feel comfortable telling them your stuff, then I think it’s safe to just discontinue. Find somebody different. Therapists experience it all the time. Even I have. It’s totally fine. You can ghost them. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} You can ghost your therapist. I mean, try not to ghost them. Give them 24 hours’ notice.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Well, you know. It’s one of those things where you can just casually not reschedule. Or you can just say; you know what? I think I’m ok for right now. That’s definitely appropriate. I wouldn’t say; hey, if you have an amount scheduled, just not go. {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: {laughing} That would be; you’ll get written up for that. Just kidding.

Topsie Vandenbosch:  But yeah. It’s definitely appropriate. There’s no pressure. You don’t want to reschedule, you don’t want to reschedule. Completely fine. So, that’s definitely your prerogative. And I think for your own mental wellness it’s important to find somebody that you connect with. That’s so important.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. The first therapist I saw, I only saw her for a few sessions. And she kind of got me over a hump where I was really struggling, and I really kind of needed that affirmation of; I’m a person that will seek help for myself. I saw her a couple of times; it was helpful, but then I kind of got this feeling that I wasn’t going to share any more with her.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Isn’t that interesting?

Liz Wolfe: It was interesting. And then I moved on to my current therapist, who is amazing. And I’m actually kind of sad that she’s my therapist, because I would like for her to be my friend.

Topsie Vandenbosch: I know!

Liz Wolfe: But I totally get those boundaries.

Topsie Vandenbosch: I was just about to say; I think that’s also the funny dynamic that happens. If you find a therapist you connect with, you’ll probably regret them being your therapist. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Totally.

Topsie Vandenbosch: But that’s how you know you’ve found a winner.

Liz Wolfe: Yes. 100%. That small pang of sadness that you can’t be besties. But then you trust that person to really give you a good read on what’s going on in your life, and your feelings. And you feel like they’ve taken the time to get to know you, and aren’t just recycling the same answers over and over again.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Yep. 100%.

Liz Wolfe: Whoops, lost my earphones there for a minute. I was being animated with my hands, and I yanked my own earphone out of my ears. {laughs}

Topsie Vandenbosch: {laughs}

3. High-functioning depression [15:33]

Liz Wolfe: Ok. So we talked in the first episode we did together, we talked about high-functioning anxiety. We’re going to talk about anxiety and depression today, but I wanted to ask. Is there such a thing as high-functioning depression?

Topsie Vandenbosch: I think I definitely have coined the term, I’m sure I’ve used it just in my head to kind of figure out what’s going on with a person. High-functioning depression to me is more like a pop culture phrase, the same thing as high-functioning anxiety.

So with high-functioning depression, it’s pretty much; depression is depression. It doesn’t change anything in regards to the diagnostic part. So even somebody with high-functioning anxiety could definitely meet criteria for generalized anxiety disorder. It just manifests different in them.

So, for high-functioning depression. It’s still depression, but it can range from mild to moderate to severe. So with high-functioning depression, this could be, for example, a person that is very career/goal focused. But they might find it difficult experiencing joy. They might be just critical of themselves and others. They might constantly be low energy extreme fatigue. A lot of self-doubt. They’re probably always doubting themselves, and they are highly critical of other people.

So this is the person that you would perceive maybe as kind of a pessimist and negative, but it’s to the extreme. Like, everybody is an idiot. And you can bet your bottom dollar that if they’re critiquing everyone else, they’re critiquing themselves.

Liz Wolfe: Wow. That’s really interesting.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Yeah, it’s really interesting. So it’s still depression, but it’s more of that silent depression, where on the outside they perform, probably pretty well. But internally, it’s probably taking tons of energy. They probably are just sad constantly. And they just don’t really know why. But these are the people it’s hidden. You wouldn’t know it from the outside. Because everything seemingly seems ok.

And then perfectionistic. So a little bit similar to high-functioning anxiety. Perfectionistic, probably has difficulty sleeping. So that’s another hallmark of a person that might have mild to moderate anxiety or mild to moderate depression or high-functioning depression. So it’s pretty much on the outside they appear like everything is all good. They’re smiling. They’re laughing. They know how to play the role. But on the inside, they are literally just screaming. And somedays could be really difficult to wake up. But then some days, they might have no issues. So that’s that mild depression. It can range from mild to moderate depression.

So that’s kind of what I’ve seen in my practice. I’ve seen people who, they would be very resistant, FYI, to say that they struggle with depression. Because it doesn’t textbook look like what they imagine depression to look like.

Liz Wolfe: Ok. So I was listening to a podcast called the Hilarious World of Depression. {laughs}

Topsie Vandenbosch: OH, yeah! {laughs} I love that title.

Liz Wolfe: I really enjoy it. It’s a project of maybe NPR, so it’s very well done. I will throw out something that the host said at one point. As kind of a joke. And I’m wondering what the accuracy of it is. Because on the surface, it sounded really good. But I’d love to hear your take on it. He basically said that anxiety is when you care about way too many things, and depression is when you don’t care about anything. And it sounds like that’s not really true.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Huh.

Liz Wolfe: Is that funny, or is that not funny? I thought it was kind of entertaining.

Topsie Vandenbosch: That is entertaining. But now I’m thinking about it. I would probably say from a funny perspective; sure. It could seem that way. Because when you're anxious, you're thinking about so many things going wrong. You have a fear of many things.

Liz Wolfe: Everything matters.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Yeah, everything matters. And then with depression, it can range from; there are certain things that you care about. But there’s a lot that you don’t. And with depression, also, you can be playing a role on a day-to-day basis, but you really don’t feel connected.

Liz Wolfe: Ok.

Topsie Vandenbosch: So I could say that there was definitely probably a little bit of truth to that, for sure. Oh my gosh, I love it.

Liz Wolfe: I thought it was funny. I definitely chuckled at it. Because I’ve definitely felt the anxiety side of it.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Yeah, for sure. I think that is so fascinating. I’ve never thought about that before.

Liz Wolfe: It was definitely interesting. It looped me back in. I was maybe zoning out a little bit. Then I was like; huh. That’s…

Topsie Vandenbosch: Yeah!

Liz Wolfe: That’s interesting.

Topsie Vandenbosch: For sure. I could definitely see where that comes from. For sure.

Liz Wolfe: Ok.

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4. Self-medication and addictive personality [21:27]

Liz Wolfe: So, I know that you have extensive experience with both anxiety and depression. Let’s do this question really quickly. We had some really interesting responses to the first episode that we did together. And we might jump around a little bit, but I think we’ll tie it all together.

Let’s talk a little bit about self-medicating. I wanted to talk about; I’m kind of putting together a couple of questions that we got here. But if there is a spectrum of self-medicating; and I’m thinking about behaviors that maybe look healthy at first glance. Like people who exercise a lot, or who are really careful about how they eat. And then there’s that spectrum where it starts to look unhealthy, and then we’re talking about things like substance abuse.

Is this a spectrum? Or does self-medicating manifest different ways for different people? Can we just talk about that topic a bit?

Topsie Vandenbosch: Yeah. This is so interesting, because I’ve never thought about it this way before. So I’m really liking my brain being exercised this way. This is really good.

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Topsie Vandenbosch: This is good. I would say self-medicating; I definitely could see it manifesting in different ways for different people. And I could also see it being a spectrum. So I think it kind of depends on whether a person has an addictive personality. And I think it also depends on whether or not they are actively, I think, trying to avoid dealing with something.

So, for instance, a person that everything in their life seems out of control. Or they might feel anxious. Or they might feel depressed or whatever. But the only thing they know they can control is maybe their weight. So I could see how that could possibly turn into disordered eating. And I could also see how it could morph into other types of trying to numb. Because that’s what you're doing, when you're self-medicating. You're just wanting to numb.

So, I could definitely see how it could be a spectrum for some people. But I think it largely depends on; this is just my clinical opinion. I think it depends on the type of personality they have, and whether or not they have addictive personalities. When you have an addictive personality, at times it doesn’t matter what it is. But whatever it is they like, or they enjoy, they go hard. They’ll do it. And they find something else that they like and they enjoy that makes them avoid or not feel as much, they go hard with it. They go to the extreme.

So I think it depends on the personality. And whether or not they have an addictive personality. Because I definitely know a lot of people where maybe some form of possibly controlled or disordered eating is as far as they would go. They wouldn’t touch anything else. So I don’t think people can be placed in boxes in that way. At least that’s from my clinical opinion. I’m sure somebody else could say something completely different. That’s just from what I’ve seen.

I know a lot of them that would never touch anything else; but, in that particular area, it could e super harmful for them to continue doing. So I think it’s just something for people to be mindful of. And look at your intentions behind the behavior that you're engaging in.

So if you know that you're engaging in it; not as a healthy coping skill, but as an avoidance mechanism. And as a way to feel in control in an unhealthy way, and it’s affecting other facets and areas of your life, I think that’s something to definitely seek professional counsel on. Because you don’t want that to morph into anything else. So you want to catch it, hopefully. Not always. You're not always able to. But you want to be cognizant and catch it before it has the ability to morph into anything, like a full-blown addiction.

Liz Wolfe: So how would somebody know if they are; I don’t know what the phrase would be. But using avoidance as a strategy in a negative way. How do you know if you're avoiding?

Topsie Vandenbosch: Yeah. I think when you are avoiding, you typically aren’t communicating with people. That’s one of the main things I’ve seen. Because I think the anecdote to all of this is really actively talking about it and actively seeking help. So typically, if you're avoiding, you're not doing that. You're not talking to people. Or, if you are talking to people, you're not stating what’s actually going on internally from an emotional standpoint.

So I think when you are avoiding, you are just numbing. You don’t typically want to feel. You don’t want to experience all of the emotions that come along with whatever the issue is for you. So you're not communicating with those you love about just how serious it is. You're just trying to numb and just get through the day. That’s kind of the best explanation I can think of for that.

And you can just tell, because you're not keeping it real with the people that love you and that you love. You're not letting them in and letting them know what’s going on. So you're buried deep in your shame. The anecdote to shame is empathy. So when you receive empathy, shame can’t live there anymore. Because you're like; whoa. I feel understood. Brene Brown said that best. I feel understood. I feel hurt. So I think that’s one way to know whether or not you're avoiding something that you really should be talking about.

Liz Wolfe: So one of the things that’s been helpful to me is when I think; “I don’t want to bother them with this.” When that pops into my head. When I’m like; “I don’t want to bother them with it.” That’s when I know I’ve got something I need to talk to the therapist about.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Absolutely. 100%. Because if you're not going to “bother” a friend with it, then you need to bother somebody about it. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Yes, bother somebody.

Topsie Vandenbosch: And by the way, your therapist should never make you feel like you're bothering them when you're telling them about your issues. That’s the whole point of why you see them. And, I also think too; I do want to bring this up. I also think, too, that something I see that happens during the therapeutic process is that as they get comfortable with you, and let’s say they are making progress. Sometimes people naturally are less likely to want to tell you when they’re struggling.

Because they want approval. And they’ve gotten used to that positive reinforcement of; “Oh my gosh! You're doing awesome! Oh my gosh, you're doing great!” And then you feel like a failure. Because you're like, oh my gosh, I actually am sucking in this area {laughing}. Or, in this area I’m actually so close to falling on my face. This is not good.

You need to feel comfortable to tell them. Because they don’t know what they don’t know. I think it’s in a therapist’s nature to give lots of positive feedback. But I also try to be mindful to say; hey. Please tell me if you are struggling. I want to know. I do make it a point to say that, because I don’t think people always know or recognize that they’re withholding information because they want to please me. I don’t want you to please me. I want to help you. And I can’t help you if I don’t know the full gamut of what’s going on.

Liz Wolfe: And a therapist will be honest with you about that, right?

Topsie Vandenbosch: Yeah! They should!

Liz Wolfe: It’s like; I totally understand this because I’ve caught myself a couple of times. I really like my therapist, and I want her to like me. So I’m like; I should be past this by now. I don’t want to bring it up again. But if it is still on your mind, bring it up.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Bring it up!

Liz Wolfe: That’s what they’re there for.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Oh my gosh, bring it up! Yes! Because I think a lot of; what’s that word I’m looking for? I feel like the therapist-client relationship is interesting. Because that does; it will occur, at whatever point. And I think it’s just good to be honest with your therapist about; you know, I think I’ve been struggling a little bit with talking about certain things, because I feel like I talk about the same thing every time when I come here. And I don’t want you to think I’m not serious. And that I’m not making progress.

Which; progress is not linear. So progress can go all over the place. You might make some gains in this area, but in this other area, you need some encouragement. You need some more improvement. But that’s ok. Progress doesn’t look the same. It’s not perfection. So I think that’s important for everybody to know. Therapists, we already know. We’re seeing you because of that issue. So we don’t all of a sudden expect that after 8 sessions the issue is gone.

Maybe, for some people, but that’s not always typical. And that’s ok. So I think it’s important to just be honest about that. And you're not bothering them. It doesn’t mean you're not serious. And I think any good therapist is going to tell you that. And say; you know what, this is hard. And it’s hard work. And it takes some people a while to even start doing the work. Even after they’ve been going to therapy for a while. It can just be therapeutic to talk about it, and then get to the next stage of change. Which is where you're actually doing actively every day, using the coping skills and stuff. That could take a while for people to actually get to that point. So that’s ok. It’s definitely ok.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. You can’t expect to “fix” something in a certain number of sessions any more than you can say; “I’m going to start going to the gym and immediately do 10 pullups.” That’s just not how it works.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Yes! No, it’s not how it works at all.

5. SAHM transition [31:22]

Liz Wolfe: OK. Very good. So, one of the things. We’ll switch gears just a little bit. I think this will be a good time to talk about; this is something you and I talked about before we jumped on; talking about the transition for career women to being stay at home mothers. And maybe we can loop in some talk about anxiety and depression there.

But let’s talk about that. What do you have to say about that?

Topsie Vandenbosch: So, I have to say; I have a special place in my heart for SAHMs. Because I just get it. I can understand how it can feel so isolating and so alone. So I think, number one; and I don’t think a lot of people do this. And it doesn’t mean you have to do it if you don’t really feel like you need to or you want to. But I think it couldn’t hurt to put this in place.

So if you are a person and you're thinking about starting a family and you're very career focused and you love your career or you love what you do, or you identify as a working woman in any capacity. I think when you're thinking about transitioning to being at home, my first suggestion would be to start finding or looking for a support group or a therapist. You don’t have to find a therapist, necessarily. But I don’t think it could hurt.

And the reason why I say this is because people often underestimate the identity you have with working and receiving monetary compensation for what it is you do. I think we severely underestimate how much that gives us satisfaction. When you get your paycheck every two weeks or every week, however often. It’s almost like a pat on the back. You're getting that positive reinforcement. You're getting paid for your sick leave. It feels so good to get those monetary benefits for the hard work you put in.

And then, when you transition to being at home, you don’t get monetary compensation any more for doing it. It’s like; it’s a thankless job. You might have your husband, or maybe friends, or your in-laws, or your parents. They might say; hey! You're doing awesome! But it doesn’t feel the same. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: No! Unless they were saying that five times a day, every single day, it’s just not going to be enough. {laughs}

Topsie Vandenbosch: No, it’s not going to be enough. And no matter how much you want to be a mama, and no matter how much you want to be home with your kids and spend all the time with them. If you were at all working before, it could be an adjustment. And I think people just underestimate how lonely. Your network sometimes changes. And you didn’t want it to. You didn’t ask for that. You wanted to keep the same friends and all the same; if you were teacher, all the same teacher friends.

But hey; it’s a different world now. And it doesn’t have to be, but unfortunately that’s just what happens. Your network changes, and the people you can relate to change. And I think it’s important to find a network of people that you connect to that get it.

Liz Wolfe: Yes.

Topsie Vandenbosch: I just notice that it’s so hard. It’s so hard for my SAHMs to adjust to. “Well, I used to hang out with my colleagues, or my coworkers. And now I don’t anymore.” And that’s a whole other issue. That’s a whole other thing, because I don’t think that changes need to be drastic. And you kind of have to question whether they were your friend in the first place, and not just a colleague.

But unfortunately, it does happen. And you kind of have to plan around that. Like; ok. If I lost my network of friends at work, what am I going to do when I transition home? I need to have a network I need to plug in.

Liz Wolfe: Let me give from examples from my own life of how I’ve been able to plug in in kind of unexpected ways. A friend of mine from work, from my work with Beautycounter; her sister-in-law lives in Kansas City, and she did a friend date. She set me up on a blind date with her sister-in-law. We went to the petting zoo together. And it was great. And now we’re going to do a supper club together.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Yay!

Liz Wolfe: Just kind of asking the people you know. “Do you know anybody openhearted enough to do a friend set up?” And this gal that she set me up with is amazing. But even if she hadn’t been amazing, it still would have been good and worth while to get out of the house and have some interaction with somebody. Even if it wasn’t the exact thing I wanted to be doing in that moment. Which it is. Allie, I love you, you're the best.

Topsie Vandenbosch: {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: So that was really helpful for me. And even starting; now that my daughter is 3.5, I was able, when she’s at preschool, to go play a little bit of tennis every week. And they might not be; something I struggle with is I’ve always wanted a bestie. I’ve always wanted that one person who knows my heart and who we share with each other and all of that. Learning that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing; like I either have a best, bestie or I have nobody.

Topsie Vandenbosch:  Yes!

Liz Wolfe: But I can just go to tennis, and chit chat with people, and move my body, and have a good experience with that has been really helpful to me.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Oh my gosh. I love those tips. I love it. I think that it’s important for women to just really keep that in mind. And if you're already a stay at home mom and you're listening to this, and you feel alone. If you do have a spouse, and you do have a supportive partner, talk to them about ways that you can change your schedule so that you can connect and just possibly. Even if it’s going to a mommy; I don’t know. I don’t have kids, FYI.

Liz Wolfe:  {laughs} A mommy thing.

Topsie Vandenbosch: I don’t know all the phrases. But a mommy and kid workout session. {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: There are those things. Yeah, there’s mommy and me stuff. In St. Louis, there’s actually a coffee shop, and I cannot remember what it’s called. But a friend of mine from high school actually opened this coffee shop in St. Louis. You can bring your kids and they can run around and play.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Oh my gosh! That’s so cute.

Liz Wolfe: I know, I’m going to have to find the name of that. I can’t remember.

Topsie Vandenbosch: That is so cute. So yes, there are so many things like that. Even like a music class. Where you can meet other moms. Things like that; it’s just important to get plugged in. Because people underestimate how lonely, and isolating, and depressing and anxiety inducing it can be to just make that transition cold turkey and boom; all of a sudden, you're at home the whole day.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. And all you're doing is responding to somebody else’s needs over and over. Usually, I tell people; envision you go from being a human with a job where you can get coffee when you want and use both hands to drink it. To being home all day almost literally with one hand tied behind your back. Because you're constantly holding another human being.

Topsie Vandenbosch: {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: You're trying to live your life like that. It is profoundly jarring. It’s hard. And I agree; I wish that I had kind of just set myself up with a therapist beforehand and just been like; just FYI, I’ve got a big life transition coming up. I might need you. Let’s get us started.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Yes! And it can be helpful; even if there’s nothing clinically wrong. I think that it could just be helpful to just go in, and see somebody and just get the process going so you're not all of a sudden scrambling, and looking, and feeling kind of rushed. It’s good to just be able to prepare if you're able to.

6. Options for therapy from home [38:48]

Liz Wolfe: Ok. One of the things; let’s talk about after babies are in the picture. So one of the biggest challenges I feel like I faced was not even being able to comprehend how I could possibly go get help when I had no idea where the time would come from and how I would schlep my kid from point A to point B. Can people bring their children to their therapy sessions? {laughs}

Topsie Vandenbosch: {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: You’d just be like; this, right here. This is the problem.

Topsie Vandenbosch: This is such a good question. I will tell you, I have never told anybody they couldn’t. I will say that. The only time I might; this is a touchy subject.

Liz Wolfe: Newborns would be one thing. Right? You can bring your newborn.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Yes!

Liz Wolfe: You can talk it out with someone while they’re nursing or sleeping or whatever.

Topsie Vandenbosch: 100%. I have done all of that. I have never told one person; it didn’t matter how hard their kid wailed. I’ve never said you can’t bring your baby back. I’ve never said that. To be honest, I’ve never had to. The person kind of figured it out from the sessions how helpful it was for them. I let my clients lead that. I let my clients figure out; because clients know whether or not they’re finding the sessions useful. If they can’t hear me. Or if they’re not able to talk to me.

Because the session is for them. So if they’re not able to talk to me, they’re not able to really hear me because they’re trying to soothe their kid. People don’t need for you to say anything anyway {laughs}. The parent will pick up on that, and the parent will say; oh my gosh. You know what, maybe next time we can do this instead. You know what I’m saying? There are so many other options, I’ve never had to.

Nor would I ever say anything. I don’t mind. And I don’t care if they bring their toddlers, either. I really don’t care. Because most of the time, the parents bring some type of toy for them to play with or be occupied with. Or this generation, the iPad.

Liz Wolfe: Yes.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Or they give them their iPhone, and that just occupies them the whole time. The only time I’ve ever suggested; hey, do you find it helpful for your child to be here? Because if you want to work through trauma, I don’t feel comfortable talking about that particular trauma. But we can talk about anything else. We can talk about anxiety. You know what I’m saying? But we can’t talk about specific trauma. Because it’s just not helpful for the kid to hear that.

Liz Wolfe: Right. Not age appropriate.

Topsie Vandenbosch:  That’s the only time I’ve ever said that. But other than that, I don’t care. I actually love it, because it brings this lightness into the room. And I just think that’s so good. Because sometimes sessions can be seen as really heavy. So I think sometimes too it can be super healthy to do that.

Liz Wolfe: And just being able to sit down. Even if you're not going to make all kinds of headway on your trauma that day, just getting out of the house and doing something good for yourself can be a real self-confidence boost, right?

Topsie Vandenbosch: Absolutely. Absolutely. And then you asked the question; it could be difficult for people to find the time; when am I going to be able to go to an office by myself to talk. So I think there are some ways you can get around that. There are definitely clinicians that offer online therapy.

So you just kind of have to be creative, because it’s kind of new. But if you are in a creative mood, you can just Google video-based therapy. I wouldn’t suggest Skype, because Skype isn’t HIPAA compliant, and it’s not secure. That’s really the main thing; it’s not secure. So looking for a clinician that offers some type of video-based therapy where you are in the comfort of your own home. And they are in their office, or whatever. And you can talk to them that way. So that’s one way that you wouldn’t have to leave your house.

Another option, if you're really struggling, could be to either A) schedule infrequent therapy sessions, where you're not going on a weekly basis. Of course, if you want to get the most out of it, and you want to really work through some stuff, going weekly is a good thing. But if you're only able to come once a month, then you're able to come once a month for a while. That’s a good option.

Another option for individuals who are just not able to create; I don’t want to say create the time. But, who, for whatever reason, are finding it difficult to go to an office setting. There is something called Talk Space. I think this is what Michael Phelps is a sponsor. He’s being paid by Talk Space to advocate for text-based therapy. I don’t know; I think they call it text based therapy.

So it’s where they have licensed clinicians all over the US and so you would be assigned to one that lives in your state. So they would text with you throughout the day. I think there are monthly plans. And you could either do a text-based plan. I believe or a text and video-based plan. And I would more so use that as an interim to going into an office. But they just want to reduce the barriers to receiving therapy. So that’s something that you could do where you could text with a licensed clinician in your state.

So they could be somebody like me that does it on the side. They have to respond to you in a certain amount of time. And they text back and forth with you about coping skills. Just whatever. So that’s another way that you wouldn’t have to leave the comfort of your own home if that was a barrier.

Liz Wolfe: That’s very interesting stuff. I think we’re definitely learning that there’s no substitute for one on one, in person connection.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Yeah, for sure.

Liz Wolfe: But, as a stop-gap, I totally see how that would be a good thing.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Yes, absolutely. And I think, too, video-based therapy kind of; I think it can help people who maybe for them it’s so difficult to think about leaving their house, because they have anxiety of some sort. So you don’t want for them to just not receive help. So in order to get them to even think about leaving their house, it could be also good to do video-based therapy. Because it’s the same thing; you're just not seeing them in the room with you. But I definitely have had colleagues that found a lot of success with that with clients. So there are a lot of options for people who are just not in a season in their life where that’s something they could do. Which is to go to an in-office setting.

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7. Career mothers [46:04]

Liz Wolfe: Ok so we talked about career women becoming stay at home mothers. What about career women who continue working, and struggle with the demands of parenthood? Especially for folks who; well, whether you're working as well as parenting, or whether you're all in on one side or the other. When it gets to the point where these things are really, really affecting you. And whether you're having anxiety attacks or physical symptoms of anxiety. You’ve got perfectionism mixed in there, and you just feel like you're at the breaking point. What kind of questions would you ask somebody in that type of a situation? Where would you direct them?

Topsie Vandenbosch: Ooh.

Liz Wolfe: I know, it’s a big question.

Topsie Vandenbosch: This is so good. Boundaries. I would talk to them about their boundaries. I think it’s good to kind of assess what type of boundaries you have, and you need to have boundaries with your family too. I’ve talked to a lot of women who aren’t working women, but who have a lot of demands at home about what their boundaries are. Even when it comes to; because I know I hear a lot of; “I can’t stand when my partner touches me excessively. Because I have a child that’s wants to touch me when I get home. And I just can’t handle having…”

Liz Wolfe: No more touching!

Topsie Vandenbosch: No more touching. So I think it’s important to figure out what your boundaries are going to be, both with your spouse and with your kid. That way you're not feeling constantly that you have to meet these demands. I think you need to figure out what is feasible. What can you actually do? Because your spouse deserves your attention, and so does your kid. But your kid isn’t going to keel over and die because they can’t sit on your lap once.

Liz Wolfe: Can I add something to that really fast?

Topsie Vandenbosch: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: As a first-time mom, I felt like I had to be the most responsive parent in the world. And anytime I did not immediately respond to my child, or immediately give them the cuddles or whatever that she needed in that moment, that I was damaging her in some way. Let me tell you that the fact you love your child is established in their souls very early on. Just because you need a damn moment to yourself in the bathroom …

Topsie Vandenbosch: {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Does not mean your child is going to struggle with abandonment.  That is a completely different class of issues, right?

Topsie Vandenbosch: Yes. Yes. I love that you said that. Because often when I’m working with women, that’s something they’re afraid of. “I don’t want to damage my kid.” I’m like; no, no, no. That is not going to damage your kid. In fact, you’ll be really surprised at just how easily they understand. Or easily they get used to it. And they’re like; no! I can’t touch all over mommy when she’s cooking. {laughs} I’m like, it’s good to teach boundaries in different ways.

So I think, just to address what you mentioned about; I think we were talking about how women meet all the demands. I ask them; what are your boundaries? What are you doing? What are your boundaries with family; what are your boundaries around work? All of that. So I think assessing your boundaries; that is super important.

And then the other piece of that I think would be being able to have self-care. What is your self-care routine? What are you doing to take care of yourself? Often, I hear self-care. What are you referring to? That disappeared a long time ago. And that makes me sad. Because in order for us, as people, as humans, to be the best humans we can be, we have to take care of ourselves. There’s no need to be a martyr.

Liz Wolfe: It’s hard. Literally, I think it’s programmed.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Oh, it is.

Liz Wolfe: It just activates. {laughs}

Topsie Vandenbosch: It is. And I think people put a lot of labels on it. Like you're selfish, or you're this, or you're that. And you're not. If you look up the textbook definition of selfish, I bet you that’s not you. So I think when you're struggling to meet all these demands, it’s important to kind of look at what are your boundaries? What are you doing for self-care? Those are the first two things I always ask people. And I’m always shocked at the responses. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: I would imagine.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: And it doesn’t have to be a day at the spa. Giving yourself the opportunity to take a shower once every two or three days. You can pat yourself on the back for that. You can feel good about that.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Oh yeah. 100%. It doesn’t need to be anything crazy. It can literally be in the comfort of your own home.

Liz Wolfe:  I think I struggled with applying some of my perfectionism to this concept of self-care. Where I was like; so I have to be doing yoga and working out and showering and making myself a beautiful salad every day?

Topsie Vandenbosch: {laughs} That’s overwhelming.

Liz Wolfe: If I couldn’t do everything, I couldn’t do anything, you know.

Topsie Vandenbosch:  Right. And it’s that all or nothing mentality, too. With that perfectionism. That’s where the danger is, because there’s no gray. It’s always black or white. So just doing the best you can on any given day.

Liz Wolfe:  Try to find that gray. Find that gray area and take a little step into it. {laughs}

Topsie Vandenbosch: Yes.

8. Anxiety-induced insomnia tips [51:18]

Liz Wolfe: It’s helpful. OK. So one more quick question, and this is pretty specific. We got this one from our Instagram account. “I wanted to find out if you had any tips for anxiety-induced insomnia?”

Topsie Vandenbosch: Yeah. So anxiety-induced insomnia; what I would say, for anybody that’s struggling with that. I would say, obviously, number one being able to; because if you have anxiety-induced insomnia, that means you have anxiety during the day, as well. So I would also recommend seeking clinical help. That’s huge. So seeking a therapist, number one.

Number two, in the meantime, I would also suggest looking at what your night routine is, and actually have a night routine. I think that being able to associate your bed with sleep is going to be huge. So just like the typical sleep hygiene stuff. It sounds really silly, but doing that.

Another thing could be to write down; I think sometimes with anxiety, you have worries that you're not even sure what your worries are. So one tip could be to write a list of all your worries, and put them in a box, and put them underneath your bed. Or put them somewhere in the house where it’s kind of this visual thing, for some people it’s been helpful. Where they kind of picture all their worries being placed in a box and put away until the next morning.

So for some people, that’s enough. Other things, like relaxation things. Progressive muscle relaxation. That’s where you tense, and you untense parts of your body. From your feet up to your head, or head down to your feet. Where you're just clenching and unclenching your muscles, and then you move on to the next muscle group. You can do that until you fall asleep.

Another thing could be when you are having racing thoughts, and you're just worried about everything, one example could be to get up and just do some cleaning that doesn’t require any thinking.

Liz Wolfe:  Oh, I love that!

Topsie Vandenbosch: Because then what happens sometimes is your brain associates your bed with not sleeping; if you continue to lie there and you know you're not falling asleep. Going and doing something that could stimulate you to wanting to sleep could be another good distraction technique, too.

So those are a few quick things. And then, of course, your therapist will have other suggestions for you. But I think that could be something to try maybe in the meantime in between going to therapy. Because I think sometimes people think; oh, I just have insomnia at night from anxiety. But a lot of the time, it’s a build up from the day. So it’s a build up from the day, and your thought process during the day. So if you're able to talk to somebody about what your thought process has been during the day, then hopefully at night that is able to simmer down.

So, those are my suggestions for that.

Liz Wolfe: Perfect. Ok. Well, we’re like almost at an hour.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Oh my gosh!

Liz Wolfe: I know. It goes fast when we’re talking to Topsie.

Topsie Vandenbosch: {laughing} This is so much fun!

Liz Wolfe:  Thank you so much for coming on again. Can you let folks know where to find you?

Topsie Vandenbosch: Yeah. You can find me on Instagram. Primarily on social media, my social media is for my coaching business. I coach female entrepreneurs on how to overcome negative thinking patterns and fears and beliefs that are preventing them from making bank in their business. So my Instagram; you're going to find a lot of tips. Some of them are a little mental health related. I don’t think you can really separate it. But you're going to find a lot of tips on my stories. A lot of mini trainings on making sure to stay visible and making sure people know who you are, and not being afraid to be authentic in your truth. So that’s what you're going to find on my social media.

My handle on Instagram is Topsie Vandenbosch. T-O-P-S-I-E Vandenbosch V-A-N-D-E-N-B-O-S-C-H. I don’t think you're going to have a problem finding me. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} There’s only one.

Topsie Vandenbosch: I’m the only one. You can also find me at

Liz Wolfe: Awesome. Thank you so much, Topsie.

Topsie Vandenbosch: Thank you so much for having me on.

Liz Wolfe: That’s it for this week then. You can find me, Liz, at Diane at And Topsie at, or on Instagram at Topsie Vandenbosch. Join our email lists for free goodies and updates that you don’t find anywhere else on our website or on the podcast. While you’re on the internet, please leave us an iTunes review. See you next week.

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