Watching Archie learn, love and live over the last two years has been truly magical. I have realised my ambition to be a mum and I feel like I was born to do this job. But for the past 18 months all has not been what it seems to anyone looking in on my idyllic life.
I’ve had anxiety. There, I said it.
Giving birth to my baby boy was breathtaking and beautiful but instantly made me realise the feeling of loss my parents must have felt when we lost our brother at twenty one. I now had what they had lost.
The first few months I was on cloud nine and just spent my days drinking Archie in and enjoying the hazy but wonderful newborn phase. After five months of breastfeeding him every 2-3 hours my mind started to get foggy. Every time I looked at my happy baby boy I felt utter love but also an underlying dread that I was going to loose him. My parents lost Rich what was stopping it happening to me? For a long time I denied these feelings were there and well and truly buried my head in the sand, got on with things and tried to feel normal.Although, the more I forced normal feelings the worse I felt.
Then one day it all got too much and I booked a doctors appointment as these feeling were starting to take over my whole life. Whilst I waited in the surgery to see my doctor I felt as though my body was pumped with electricity making it impossible to relax. I then broke down to my doctor and told her what a mess my head was and she instantly referred me to a mental health nurse who I saw within the month. He diagnosed me with anxiety. The relief of knowing what was wrong with me was massive. I wasn’t going mad, this was an actual condition. I’d spent too many hours googling my symptoms and worrying myself sick. So I had anxiety, surely there’s a pill I can pop for that and as they say here in Herefordshire ‘jobs a goodun’. How wrong I was. I was in for a very very rough ride, this was just the beginning. The worry soon returned. Knowing what was wrong with me made me feel so much better at first but then it soon became a bigger problem than before. I’d wake everyday hoping the black cloud of obsessive thoughts had disappeared only to realise they were still there. I’d then battle all day trying to change how I was feeling and thinking.
All along I was being Mum to a healthy, happy baby boy who needed my undivided attention. So I put everything I had into raising him. I also didn’t want him to sense how I was feeling. Anxiety was stripping me of every bit of energy I had but I wouldn’t let it take any of the energy I needed to raise him. This resulted in the hardest months of my life. The thought of doing a load of washing or putting the dishwasher on was like climbing a glacier. As any mum would know, you just have to keep going.
When I asked my mental health nurse if I was going to suffer with this all my life, the answer ‘you will have this for the rest of your life’ was not the answer I wanted to hear. So for the rest of my life I will feel like I’m wadding through a black world full of black treacle? This just didn’t seem right or fair. From this point onwards I made it my mission to get better. Well and truly back to my old self. I went home and googled anxiety self help. If the NHS weren’t going to help my fully recover from this mental illness I had to do it myself. I came across the website www.nomorepanic.co.uk and the book ‘At last a life’ written by Paul David (this post is not sponsored!)
I read the book in just a few days. Finally someone who knew what they were talking about. It explained that anxiety is simply built up energy in the mind and body. It’s your mind telling you it can’t take anymore. The more you try and feel normal the worse the anxiety gets. The solution is simple. Stop trying to get better. You don’t have to do anything to get better. If you leave the anxiety alone the rest will follow.
God what a relief this was. I don’t have to spend my days trying to think myself better and rid myself of this mental parasite. As a sufferer you spend every waking hour doing exactly that. Of course as anyone with anxiety would know, this is far easier said than done but I could see the sense in this. This wasn’t the end of my daily battle, I had some very dark days letting every thought in and trying to let it all be. It was though, the start of a very long road to recovery.
I can now say thanks to this book and website I feel more like myself than I have in 18 months. I can now see a life without anxiety and that makes me more excited than a kid at Christmas! The light at the end of the tunnel is getting bigger and bigger by the day. Yes, I still have bad days but I know I’m on the right path.
I’m a great believer that things happening for a reason and on my darkest days this philosophy got me through. My whole life I have worried over needless things and now I feel a sense of calm. I now don’t worry until I have to and the majority of the time there’s no need to anyway. It’s only worth worrying about if you can change the outcome. This dramatic change in my mindset makes the last 18 months of mental illness seem worth it. I feel as strong as an Ox now. If I can get through such darkness I can conquer anything.
Very few people knew about my anxiety. It felt far too complicated to bring up in conversation. Every mum wants to feel like they’ve got it all together. I’m generally a laid back, happy go lucky person so it was totally out of character for me. More than anything I didn’t want to seem like I was failing at being a Mum. Now I’m better I can see that wasn’t the case.
It’s taken an awful lot to share this story on here but I can’t bare what a taboo mental health is. If I don’t speak up I’m contributing to that taboo. If you are in the midst of this horrible illness, keep the faith. The old you is still there it’s just been covered over, you must do everything in your power to find it again. If I can come back from rock bottom then so can you.
I know not everyone will be able to relate to this post but one thing is for sure. You have no idea what battle someone may be fighting. However rosy things may look on the outside they aren’t always what they seem. So be kind.
Please share this to anyone who needs it.
Have a lovely day wherever you may be.