I will put my hand up and say I never understood mental health problems as a young adult. I had sympathy but I suppose I thought it was about how strong you were. Thankfully I now know different. And it is down to the relentless work of those working in mental health and those suffering from poor mental health that I have come to learn more about it and realise that we all should consider our mental health like we do our physical health.
Then during my first year of being a mother to 3 children I realised I was not coping very well at all. I didn’t want to be left alone with the children. I was angry a lot. I fought with Simon a lot. I was so tired. I felt like I was the worst mum in the world and that I wasn’t good enough to be a Mum of 3 children. That my beautiful children deserved more than me. And it makes me feel awful to say that I hated it at times. I thought it was all down to the lack of sleep. But it wasn’t.
Now that I am out of it I can see that it was a lot more than lack of sleep. This was the major contributing factor because when you are lacking in sleep things look so much worse. It’s hard to take a step back when it is relentless. But I still don’t get very much sleep and I feel like I am out of the fog and I know I am a good mum and I love being a Mum again. So it wasn’t just that.
Simon was struggling too and while he supported me a lot I was just too demanding and we just didn’t get on. We would collapse at the end of the day and not speak to each other. This scared me and for the first time ever I was worried he was going to leave me. That made me more needy which made it worse.
I felt I had no one to talk to. I didn’t want to burden my mum as there was enough going on. As there was no one else I felt I could tell about it. I did say I was having a hard time but I never went any deeper than that and just made out I was fine anyway. The only relief I got was every Wednesday I met one of my best friends who also had babies and we would chat about the hard times. It wasn’t too deep but it felt good to know someone else was struggling with some of the things I was.
After about a year I realised I needed to do something. So I started making sure I put myself first some of the time. I decided to really focus on my work as I felt like I had lost myself after giving up work. Being a stay at home Mum is wonderful and a privilege but I just didn’t enjoy it and it took me a while to accept that it was ok to say that. We all have our strengths and not having work was not good for my mental health.
I have made sure Simon has had time to look after his mental health and while that is still a work in progress because he just gravitates towards being as close to us as he can. This has allowed him to be even more support for me when I need it. (When Harley has been up all night and I can barely open my eyes!)
We have also made our relationship a priority because I want to get to 15 years down the line and still be as in love with him as I am today. This has helped how I feel because I feel like less of a burden and I am back to knowing I have this man who loves me more than anything.
I have also made it a priority to talk to people more when I am feeling a bit low. I take time to go do something for myself when I can feel things getting too much even if it is walking to the shops on my own. I don’t feel guilty anymore about not being great at domestic jobs and whilst I am trying to be better I won’t beat myself up about it.
I also started my business to help mothers that have suffered physical issues from pregnancy and birth, to help them get strong but it has also turned into something more. I want to create a village for parents. A place they can come when they are having a hard time. To bring people together to build friendships during this time in their lives.
So if you are in the middle of this fog and you think it won’t get better I am here to tell you it will. Take time for yourself. Don’t be ashamed of how you feel. Talk to someone and if you need someone to talk to then I’ll be that person.
I am incredibly lucky that this wasn’t worse for me and I have been able to get out of this without much outside help but I know this isn’t the case for many out there. Don’t be ashamed if you need more help. You do what you need to do to get well and stay here on this planet. You are worthy and you matter to so many people. This past year has been filled with sadness over the many people near and far who have lost their lives and we need to work hard to end the stigma and let everyone know it’s ok to not be ok.