“My motherhood journey hasn’t been quite what I expected”- said every mum across the globe.
For me motherhood has been a real test on my mental health. Please don’t get me wrong, motherhood is incredible. My boys bring magic to everyday. But it has also been a journey, corny but true.
I’m a perfectionist which doesn’t bode well with this mum gig. I also don’t like relying on other people, if I want a job doing, I do it myself. Both these traits didn’t set me up very well for a content motherhood.
For the first couple of years I did exactly nothing for myself. NOTHING. No days out, without the boys, no blogging and no upholstery. It became a vicious circle. I did nothing for myself, so I felt low, which meant I just didn’t have any mental space or energy for anything else. If I’m honest I was in survival mode.
Then once I was diagnosed with post natal anxiety, I just snowballed even further into the anxiety trap. I felt I was free falling but not in a skydiving, look at that pretty view kind of way. Then the depression set in, days, weeks, months and YEARS of worrying about worrying took it’s toll on my very tired mind. Of course every mum is tired, there’s a reason you never hear a mum tell you about her relaxing lie-in. Anxiety and depression are utterly exhausting.
I wanted more. I wanted to get myself out of survival mode and be firmly in thriving mode.
I’d tried the self help route which you can read about here. This helped me understand what was going on in my mind but I was still very much surviving the everyday. I knew deep down, I was far from the Gemsy I used to know.
So I’d tried self help; anti depressants seemed like the next step. A few weeks into taking them I felt riddled with anxiety and very low but I managed to stick with them and after about three months I started to feel much more relaxed. Not like myself but the anxiety lifted. Archie, Theo and RoRo, the dog, all crying at once (yes my dog cries when they cry!) didn’t phase me in the slightest.
All through this I still wasn’t doing anything for myself. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but when I look back, spending some time on myself would have made me feel SO much better. Us Mums are only human after all.
Obviously antidepressants have their side affects but nobody prepared me for the withdrawal process. Of course it’s different for everyone but I tried to reduce my dose but within a week I felt anxious and very low. If I could have sat in a room on my own and just stared at the wall I would have.
I’m now having to take my medication in liquid form so i can reduce the dose incredibly slowly to lessen the withdrawal symptoms. If this goes to plan it’ll take my five months to come of these tablets. That’s tough to take. But patience is a virtue, right?
There have been days when I curse the moment I went on them but actually they have helped me get on the road to full recovery. So I hate to admit it but they’ve played an important part in this crazy mental health journey of mine.
With all these ups and downs there was one thing I hadn’t tried.
Talking to someone. Someone I didn’t know. Being typically English this seemed like a pointless exercise.
“What they hell is talking to a stranger going to achieve”
Well, how wrong I was. There’s a reason most Americans have a therapists. It bloody works. It’s hard, but it works.
I now off load all my thoughts fortnightly to my counsellor (who now feels like a caring friend) and I feel better equipped to deal with life and more importantly motherhood. They say counselling and withdrawal from antidepressants go well hand in hand. This couldn’t be more true.
Now life is good, I have more energy, I spend time doing the things I loved before I had the boys. I’ve learnt to put the perfectionist to bed; which makes the mess and chaos of three boys in the house seem far less stressful. But more importantly I’m thriving.
I wrote this post a few weeks ago but I squirrelled it away in my notes thinking
“Do I post this?” Does anyone care about my route to thriving?”
But actually, when I was in the depths of anxiety and depression, these kind of blog posts gave me such hope. That one day, I too, would be out of the hell whole. So, if you have a minute please share this post far and wide, for it could just be the hope someone needs to get them through their rough patch.
Thank you so much for reading.