I’m struggling. There, I said it. I’ve been bottling it up for the past few days because I felt like I shouldn’t write about it on the blog or social media. Who wants to listen to someone moaning? Then I realised that it’s Maternal Mental Health Awareness week and that this is exactly the reason people become overwhelmed by their problems. This idea that we have to present only one facet of our lives, the positive moments; keeping a stiff upper lip and pretending that everything is fine.
Before falling pregnant with Little M I had issues with mild depression and anxiety. My hormones played havoc with my emotions and every month I would turn into an anxious, insecure wreck. The littlest things would leave me feeling completely worthless. I’d have to hope that I could get through ‘that time of the month’ without anything even remotely negative happening, to try to avoid spiraling into feelings of despair.
Eventually, these feelings had an overwhelming impact on my teaching career and I took the decision to resign. I saw my GP, and she recognised that these negative feelings were heightened around the time of my period and was incredibly supportive. My doctor is fantastic and doesn’t mince her words. She knew that we were planning to try for a baby in the near future and gave the option of medication (which I declined) but assured me that pregnancy would ‘sort me out’ hormonally.
Boy, was she right! Honestly, I felt so…balanced while pregnant. I put it down to just being so happy to be starting a family, being a newlywed and just generally being content in life. After Little M was born, obviously the initial hormone dip was hard (that’s an understatement!) but things evened out and I’ve been pretty okay…until my periods got going again.
I’ve realised that these feelings are arising not because of anything that may or may not be happening with my life (although when I am generally feeling low, there is usually something which triggers a meltdown), but because hormones are affecting the way I think and feel about myself and situations. It’s incredible the change in mood that it can bring about; when I say meltdown I really mean it. I’ll find myself sobbing over the smallest of things.
Then comes the guilt of feeling and behaving this way in front of my daughter. “Don’t let M see you’re upset,” said my husband the other night. Cue more sobbing for feeling as though I’m damaging our child by being upset. For the record, I don’t think it’s a bad thing for Little M to see that I’m upset. There’s a good chance that she’ll go through similar one day and it’s important for her to know that even strong-minded, kind-hearted, independent women go through these feelings sometimes. Although to be honest, I don’t feel strong-minded in the least at the moment.
It’s temporary, though. In a couple of days (or maybe even by the time I’ve clicked publish on this post) I’ll feel completely fine, and wonder what on earth the fuss was about. I just have to remind myself of this and try to rationalise it as best I can, until it passes. Getting out for a walk, taking Little M to a baby class or watching a film while scoffing copious amounts of chocolate can all help.
But there’s no substitute for talking to someone. Yesterday I took a deep breath and mentioned how I was feeling on social media. I was overwhelmed by the kind responses from other people. I also spoke to a couple of my mummy friends on Whatsapp and they were lovely. No judgement over how I was feeling, just support. I wish I’d said something sooner as I’d already spent two days feeling terrible.
Anyway, I’m not writing this to have a moan. I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m not suicidal or suffering from PND. Little M is perfectly safe and loved and well cared for. I just want you to know that if you’re reading this and nodding along, or feeling similar feelings to the ones I’ve described, then you’re not alone, and it will pass.