I hadn’t realised back in 2016, the year my daughter bunny was born that I was suffering with Post Natal Depression. I didn’t know when I gave
birth that PND existed. Nobody I knew ever spoke about having a child and being depressed in the same sentence. As a young girl, I was told It
was unlikely I would be able to conceive. It was news I quickly made peace with. I always loved children but I never had a desire to have my
own. I always thought I would adopt once I became successful. In the October of 2016 I unexpectedly got pregnant. I had a few complications,
so pregnancy seemed to drag out, but despite the chaos around me, I always remained super positive. The anxiety which I had walked with for
as long as I could remember had disappeared. For the first time in my life, I felt as if I was exactly where I was meant to be. I had been blessed
with a miracle and nothing else really mattered.
After a 50 hour labour and traumatic birth, bunny was born and It was only then that it dawned on me...I literally have no idea what I’m
doing. I had been a nanny for many years previously so I knew how to look after a baby, but the reality of having my own child was very
different. My partner and I split shortly after, and I moved into my first home alone. There I was... totally winging it. It was fight or flight. I
had to learn to cook, clean, budget, use a washing machine and raise a child.
I was absolutely terrified. So terrified I was going to mess everything up that I suffered in silence.
Reflecting back, of course I was depressed, and it's no wonder I went back to being so anxious. I think it’s quite normal to be anxious about doing
something for the first time. Like learning to drive a car or starting a new job. Parenting and anxiety go hand in hand for many. Even if you have never suffered with anxiety or depression before having a baby, it’s common you’ll be affected after. There’s so much stuff that’s not spoken about at the antenatals classes, like how bringing another person into the world whose needs are now far greater than your own, can make you feel so lonely.
There are times I feel very much alone. Does it mean I’m not grateful? Of course not! But does having a child mean I can’t feel isolated and on my
own? Also no. Whatever feelings we are having as mothers and as parents, they are valid.
There is so much pressure on parents to be “perfect,“ but what does that even mean? To me, perfect is just doing the best that I can do each day.
If I knew then what I know now about the importance of speaking up about our mental state, I would have given myself more time to just feel all
the emotions. The mood swings, sensitivity, depression, irritation and anxiety. I would be okay with my hormones changing, and wouldn't pretend something
isn’t happening because of fear of judgment or failure.
I believe balance is the key. Having a good state of mental health is a choice we can make by not suffering in silence, finding time to nurture ourselves, giving ourselves a pat on the back for doing the best we can, positive self talk and staying away from negative or harmful influences. This can all help in restoring a more balanced mind. It’s important we support each other to not let mental health define who we are and to get rid of the stigmas attached to anxiety and depression. not just on Maternal Mental Health Week...but always.
My best tip to the mothers out there is to just be gentle, be kind, be loving to yourself. Make it a priority to put yourself first! Run, walk, mediate, sing, get dressed up, go dancing or do whatever makes you feel great! When you fill up your cup (nurturing your mind, body and soul) you’re truly able to give your loved ones the best version of you.
Author credit: Bella