4 September 2017

My Story

Yesterday whilst browsing Instagram I saw that it was #mentalhealthawarenessweek. I felt compelled to write and illustrate something to draw attention to this as I struggled following the birth of my eldest son.
I suppose it started when I was pregnant. Howard was a happy accident, in the very early stages of a relationship. I felt judgement at every turn (I realise this was my anxiety now.) I felt shame that I wasn’t married, that it was early into a relationship, that I had left a good job to travel before realising I was pregnant. People kept gasping and sharing sorrow with me. Telling me how life tough would be. I know people meant well but I am quite stight laced and my anxiety started to have a field day!! It told me how useless I was, how hard life would be and how I’d fail!
When Howard was born, I felt the amazing sense of love that I think all new mum’s do. However, I should have noticed warning signs when I didn’t want people to hold him without my permission. I remember nipping upstairs one day with my partners aubty holding him, when I came back down his cousin was. It took every ounce of strength to not not grab him back crying and screaming!! 
My eldest had colic and I used this as an excuse to hold him all the time. I learnt to do everything one handed, lay to sleep with him at naps and at night. This led to a baby who didn’t sleep and made me even more exhausted! I felt that if I didn’t do everything though I’d be a bad mum (oh  anxiety again!) 
I went out, even away for weekends, but felt guilt like never before! I cried and found solace in the bottom of a bottle! I felt stuck on a treadmill, living the same day on repeat, flat and unfeeling! Don’t get me wrong, I did love Howard, but it became overshadowed with guilt and resentment.

I found it so hard to speak up. I’d go to the doctors thinking he was ill as he couldn’t sleep, hoping one GP would have a magic wand! I remember one telling me it was bad parenting (FYI not the best thing to say!)
I was the first out of my group of friends to have babies. I found it hard to talk about these feelings as I believed they wouldn’t understand. As they had babies they seemed to love every minute, another pointer for anxiety that I was a bad mum.
I found it hard to make new mum friends as well. The feeling of judgement stopped me being comfortable making antenatal ones and once he was here by competitive nature told me that other mum’s were just trying to be better than me. 
It took me 3 years to speak up and seek some help. It was another child and 4 more years until I found some counselling and started on a proper path to recovery. Please don’t leave it that long. Speak up! If you’re friends with someone and think they might be having a struggle, put an arm round them, make them a cuppa and give them some time. It really might make all the difference 

Written by Helen from @nib_ink_paper

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