27 January 2017

Get it off your chest!

Hi everyone! Today I have another anonymous piece for the 'Get it off your chest' section. 

Please send this person love, advice and support like you know best. 

Anxiety - Mother Nature's Way of Making Me Feel Like a Sh*t Mum

When I was a child, I remember being acutely aware that my parents were perfect. Literally, they were the kindest, most generous (seriously, they bought me a pony…) and funny people in the world. They provided everything I needed, wanted, and extra on top of that. I couldn’t imagine them being anything other than the parents that other parents aspire to be. Then one day, when I was about 13, I found out that my Mum smoked cigarettes. Not long after, my Dad was banned from driving for being over the drink drive limit. My world as I knew it came crashing down around me in a hysterically over-exaggerated and teenager-like fashion, and I shut down emotionally for about a month before I realised that life was carrying on around me and actually…no one had died.

This situation taught me 2 significant things….1) Nobody is absolutely perfect, and 2) I have anxiety issues which make me see things as so much worse than they are.

Fast forward 20 years and here I am, the proud owner of a loyal and brilliant husband, a nice house, nice car, good career and an 18 month old tearaway. But I have a secret, a horrible gnawing secret that I have to try and keep under wraps. Every. Single. Day. Having had something of an ‘anxious tendency’ for as long as I can remember, having my baby has lit a rocket underneath this and it’s become a beast that I’m struggling to control. When my son was days and weeks old, I sat in the obligatory baby groups, and while I joined in heartily with discussions about sleepless nights and poo, I quietly wondered whether anyone else was dealing with scenes running through their heads of every possible scenario in which my precious baby could get hurt, then trying and trying until I gave myself a headache to come up with plans and methods to keep him safe. I wondered if I was the only one who would feel so guilty after a glass of wine that I would lie awake and cry and wonder whether he’d be better off adopted by another couple. Was I the only one who was obsessing over every mistake or bad judgement made in my pre-baby days, like there was some kind of criteria I was ticking off which made me unqualified to be a parent?

Materialistically and emotionally I was providing everything he needed and he was smothered with love, but I was struggling inside my own head and that was enough to make me feel like a terrible mother. Normal guilt-inducing triggers like going back to work bounced off me like water off a ducks back…but an awkward silence from a conversation months ago with an NCT friend would plague me and make me doubt if I was popular enough to be a good mum. Sounds crazy right?

A visit to the doctor confirmed what I already knew, I was doing a great job and my son is a happy and healthy little boy. But in the mind of someone with anxiety this does nothing to dampen the worry and guilt. A work trip away recently resulted in me getting outrageously drunk and not remembering a large portion of my night. Cue the panic and fear the next morning, and even after confirming with colleagues that I hadn’t made a complete fool of myself, my dominant thought for almost a week afterwards was that my son deserved so much better than me as a Mum. I was praying the days away so I could put him to bed and not have to look at how perfect he was and feel the stab of irrational guilt run through me.
So back to the doctor I went, and this time I broke down. I told her everything I had felt since my son was born, and comfortingly her response was to give me anti-anxiety meds, which I now firmly believe I need to be on. I’m yet to see the full effect these will have but knowing that I ‘qualify’ for them means my levels of anxiety aren’t normal. 

Mental health issues after a baby is something that I’ve learned so many people are struggling with, and it’s something I want to raise awareness about….even if I’m not ready to be the face of it just yet!

If you would like to send me an anonymous piece please email me or DM me on Instagram. 

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