By Alisha Bradley, MA, NCC – As a new mother and working professional, I’ve experienced firsthand what it feels like to transform from depressed, insecure, and unmotivated to confident and enthusiastic about life! My low point was after I had my son, and the two years leading up to that were beyond stressful. I was working as an elementary school teacher in the Chicago Public School System, making a mediocre salary, and, quite frankly, just going through the motions of life.
Even though I’ve always had a passion for working with children, I felt like something was missing. I wanted more out of life, and came to the realization that if I were to continue my existence as it was, my ultimate happiness would be in jeopardy. So I decided to enroll in graduate school for clinical psychology.
“It takes a village to raise a child, and I believe it takes that same village to raise a new mother.”Because of the time and focus graduate school required, I decided to quit my full-time job as a2nd grade teacher and transition to a part-time parent educator and home visitor for at-risk teen mothers at a nonprofit agency. This job was closer on the path of what I wanted to do, however, the combination of being enrolled in school full-time and working was more difficult than I thought.
I decided to quit my job halfway through the first year of graduate school because it completely drained me emotionally and psychologically. This meant transitioning from having a decent salary to living off of school loans and my mother’s financial assistance. The regression from being an independent working professional to a student who was financially dependent on my parent felt like I was reliving adolescence all over again.
One year into school I found out I was pregnant. The combination of struggling financially, being pregnant, in a strained relationship, and cramming intense information while constantly diagnosing myself with each new mental illness I learned about, I was far from being in a healthy place.
During the month long summer break from school I gave birth to my son, which was one of the most physically traumatic experiences I’d ever gone through. I graduated one month after delivering him, but still had to finish up some summer courses and 4 more months of internships required to officially graduate. Once I was finished school, I thought I’d finally be relieved. But I thought wrong…
My relationship was under more pressure than ever because of the baby, we were suffering financially because neither one of us had steady jobs, and I was completely overwhelmed emotionally.
I felt like a failure because I had no energy to seek full-time employment and return to that self-sufficient woman I had once been. I also felt shame for having resentment towards motherhood and the constant attention I had to give my baby. Even though I loved him, I wasn’t able to take care of my own needs, which took a toll on my self-confidence. I began questioning my choice to enroll in school and accruing thousands of dollars in debt! I thought to myself, “Maybe I should’ve stayed complacent and kept my career as a schoolteacher”.
It took therapy, spiritual guidance, support from my social network, and persistence, but I finally got to a place where I felt content within myself. As I exercised, ate healthily most of the time (ha ha), changed my perspective from pessimistic to hopeful, I started to feel excited about my life again. I got hired at an amazing mental health private practice in downtown Chicago. My partner and I began rebuilding our relationship, and we were actually getting along again. I then combined all of the knowledge and expertise I gained throughout my career and experiences to start my business as a life coach and image consultant.
I chose to do this work because there are many women out there like me who have experienced depression, anxiety, stressful life transitions, and are in need lifestyle changes. I am deeply passionate about assisting women through their personal struggles and working alongside them through the process of internal and external healing. It takes a village to raise a child, and I believe it takes that same village to raise a new mother.
About This Guest Contributor
Alisha Bradley is a dynamic Woman You Should Know. The new mom (that’s her adorable son with the headphones) and entrepreneur has a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology with a Counseling specialization, and is a trained domestic violence counselor/advocate for the state of Illinois. She is a Certified Life Coach, a Certified Image Consultant, a National Certified Counselor (NCC), and works as a mental health therapist at Coyne Counseling Services in downtown Chicago.
Armed with this impressive body of achievements and certifications, Alisha founded Contemporary Transitions, a Life Coaching and Image Consulting company based in Chicago, IL. Through a variety of services, she provides a one-stop shop for individuals, mostly women who have recently had a child, to become transformed from the inside/out based on their own personal goals. Her focus is on new moms, teen moms, and victims of domestic abuse, who are in need of support, lifestyle changes, and a confidence boost.
WYSK would like to thank Alisha for sharing her story with us. We applaud her entrepreneurial spirit and admire her tenacity in launching a business centered on helping other women overcome the same challenges she faced herself.