Anxiety

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Over the past year or two I’ve been dealing with anxiety, I would say it was triggered by my pregnancy. Something quite different to what I’m used to feeling. I’ve battled with depression for a long time, I’m used to that deep, hollow feeling. I’m used to feeling so numb and just down that I can’t function. I’m used to just sleeping and sleeping.  But my god anxiety is so different. I can’t sleep, I can’t walk anywhere without freaking out about everything. Are people looking at me? Why are they looking at me? Shit, I forgot my shopping bags, I can’t go back in case someone thinks I’m leaving and wants my parking spot. Thinking about al the coulda’, shoulda’, woulda’s of my past. Lying awake for hours thinking about every conversation I’ve ever had, wondering about what I should have said differently, if I should have said anything at all. Unable to keep friends because I just can’t physically deal with situations, so I just block everyone out and shut down. Absolutely losing myself to a chest crushing feeling. Feeling anxious about if my method of parenting is going to produce an absolute drop kick of an adult. There is so much going on that my mind just feels like the middle of Times Square.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I’ve conquered my anxiety, because that would be a lie. I’m not going to sit here and say that I am no longer depressed either. I’m not going to sit here and tell you all the things I’ve done to make it go away, because to be honest not much is working at the moment. I guess this is just me now. Being active has helped to some extent, but mostly it just tires me out enough that I fall asleep quicker than I would if I’d done nothing during the day. Talking about it to another person has made it overwhelming. I cannot physically get everything to come out of my mouth without a lot of blubbering and some snot bubbles.

In the past to try and conquer my depression I had tried medication, healthy eating and psychologists. It was nice to let it all out, and just to cry. It made it manageable. But what I’m finding with anxiety is that I cannot talk. I mean I can talk, obviously. But I cannot let the things that wind me up, out. It sends me into this frenzy and it’s incredibly uncomfortable. So, I tried Hypnotherapy. The first therapy session where I didn’t really have to talk, I just had to tap my finger and listen to a soothing voice. It made me actually sit there and listen to my mind and what it had to say, without talking over the top of it. I learnt to be accountable and I learnt that in some situation’s things were out of my hands and there is nothing I could do to change them. I explored my mind, I was able to sort my emotions which is what I really needed to do, because I just let them run wild. I live an active lifestyle, I play social sports, I go to the gym, I do Pole fit and I do Yoga. It’s a lot, but as I said, it does help me tire myself out, it’s also an outlet, but I’m still not 100% looking after my mind like I should.I think that will come with time. I thought I could just treat my anxiety like I treat my depression, and I held onto that for so long that I was ignoring what my body was trying to tell me. I simply couldn’t treat them the same. Now that I’ve come to terms with that things are a bit better, hence the blog.

This blog is helping me keep track of my thoughts and emotions, the same way people track their food intake I suppose. Of course, this comes with its own set of anxious thoughts. Will anyone read this? Will people pull the piss out of me? Will I fail?

Well.

People have read this, it’s not my problem if people pull the piss, it’s theirs. I started, so I will never fail.

I have always prided myself on being somewhat open with my struggles with my mental health, especially with close friends. But one day I just stopped talking about it, I buried it so deep it started to fester. Not talking about what was going on made me hateful and it made me so bitter. I think it comes back to a comment a friend made.

“It’s not that bad.”

It hit me so hard that even today I don’t want to be open, in case someone says that to me again. That simple sentence made me feel so small, it made my inner struggle seem minute. It was not the first time. In high school when I was at my peak with my struggle, I opened up to my friends. Know what they did? They ignored me. There was no offer of help. Nothing. It brought me back to that moment. So I just didn’t bother her with my problems anymore. I didn’t bother anyone.

Isn’t it funny how things can be traced back to something so seemingly small?

I get told all the time that I’m such a bright and happy person, that I seem so driven. Well in absolute truth, I am not. But society and personal experiences has told me that I should not air my dirty laundry. That when people ask how you are, or if you’re okay, that the only response you should give is “Yes I’m fine, you?”. That in truth they don’t really want to know. I’m so sick of that. When I ask people how they are, I genuinely want to fucking know. I want them to feel like they don’t have to give me a robotic response. I know some people, even myself, say to themselves, “Oh I don’t want to bother laying it all out”, well I can tell you that you should. Because in absolute truth, how can anyone know that you are struggling, if you don’t tell them? We are not mind readers. I know people will go onto say, “Oh but you would know if your friend/family member was depressed/anxious”. Well, no because all it takes is one person to make their situation feel like nothing and the walls go up. It’s fucking dangerous. So please, if someone reaches out, don’t ignore them, don’t tell them that it’s not that bad. Just be there, try to be understanding. Don’t be a dick.

Leading up to writing this my anxiety has been crippling. I’ve been scared to go out in case I run into old friends, I’ve wanted to cancel and hide away. I’ve been struggling to be nurturing towards my daughter. I’ve wanted to just hide away into the darkest parts of my mind. Well, I did. But I just cant do that anymore. Veyda is so innocent and does not deserve to be punished for how I’m feeling, neither does Stuart. But it’s so fucking hard not to project. So I’m working on it. I’m trying to push through it.

I just wanted to be open about how I’m feeling. Because I know I am not alone. I also want people to know that reaching out is scary, but my God it is so worth it. You are worth it.

When you feel so worthless all the time it’s nice to hear that.

Maybe one day I’ll talk about what brought me to all this. But to be honest it’s got so many twists and turns that I think I’d just get lost at this point trying to get it all out.

My biggest goal right now is to not let the coulda’, shoulda’, woulda’s consume me. It is what it is. It’s that simple.

Sleep?

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So we all know that when you first find out that you’re pregnant, the first thing you say goodbye to is, sleep! I know this all too well, I waved sleep off like a 1940’s woman with a sailor as a husband did. With the same doubt, and longing. Would it ever come back? Would it still love me?

Well… My sleep went on an 18 month deployment. Not counting the 6 uncomfortable and restless months I endured when I was pregnant. The first 3 weren’t so bad once I got over the vomiting. I got well acquainted with the toilet, and not in the fun drunken way I was used to. That was my old life.

Everyone said to me, “You better sleep while you can!”, like I could back log all my pre baby sleep…

I would always reply with, “Oh you bet I will!”, with a massive roll of my eyes once I turned away.

I was prepared to be sleepless! In fact, I was going to embrace it! You know what I wasn’t prepared for? The dairy farm exhaustion. You know what I’m talking about right? You know those videos the animal activists post, showing the dairy cows going around and around being milked over and over again! Well… That was me… and that is what I called exhaustion. That was tired! The amount of times I’d smash my body into the door way trying to get to the baby before she reaally woke up was ridiculous! It wasn’t just a physical exhaustion it was mental! Veyda had reflux and the way she would cry still haunts me. She had tongue and lip ties at the time which did not help at all. I thought I knew tired, like the tired you feel after a massive night out. Except with those nights you have hilarious stories to tell! I’d just walk into playgroup and we’d all talk about our almost identical sleepless nights while gulping down our 4th coffees before 9am.

That was solidarity.

I expected all of this, sure it was a different kind of tired, but it was kind of manageable once you reached a state of acceptance. It was when I realised it was never going to end… We hit the 6 month mark and some of my friends were rejoicing in the fact that their babies were sleeping through! They were new people! Their bags had started to fade and they suddenly only needed maybe 2 coffees before 9am! IT WAS OUTRAGEOUS! I was still getting up at least 4 times a night, I was hating breast feeding and I couldn’t get her off! I felt so down, and just down right exhausted. We got her tongue and lip tie lasered, which helped with the reflux, which meant Veyda didn’t have lots of air sitting in her tummy. I was promised it would make her sleep… Nope. Sure, the cries weren’t in pain anymore but she just wanted me in general. All. The. Time.

Pretty soon I just learnt to accept that every baby was different and mine just enjoyed taunting me. I made peace with it. Kind of.

That didn’t last long.

Soon more and more babies were sleeping through. We’d hit the 10 month mark. I was dying. Trust me, 10 months of minimal sleep can feel like 10 years. Veyda was still getting up between 2-5 times. I had called sleep consultants in the middle of the night during my weekly mental breakdown, I had read blogs and books. They all told me the same thing… “They sleep through when they’re ready”. All I could think was, WHY AREN’T YOU READY?! I was even more drained because now she was mobile. I couldn’t just cuddle her all day and nap. I had to chase the little Houdini.

I just accepted that this was going to be my life for the next however long it would take until Veyda moved out. Which I hoped would be the following month. I wasn’t so lucky.

When your  baby doesn’t sleep, you really start to beat yourself up. You blame yourself and think about everything you could have done differently to solve this problem. You cope during the day because you can surround yourself with friends, there’s always someone to call. But it’s as soon as everyone goes to bed that you just feel so damn alone.

When I was living with my mum while Stuart and I were looking for a house, I’d dread when she would go to bed. I’d try and get her to stay up and watch movies with me, but she worked long hours so that didn’t happen. I would cry, every night right after my mum went to bed. Because I was just so petrified of being alone with myself. I knew that I’d have to get up every 2-3 hours by myself. It was those times in the middle of the night when you’d rethink your decision to have a child. Exhaustion is an incredible thing, it can make you feel so many hateful thoughts. I always have so much empathy for mothers with children that don’t sleep, I think about them when they’re getting up for that 2am feed and I hope that they’re okay. No one ever gets as excited for sunlight as a new mother. Because that means soon they won’t be so alone. Night time fucking sucks when you’re a mum.

Eventually it got better. Eventually.

 

Fast forward to 16 months old, and soon 3 out of 7 nights she was sleeping through! It was craziness! Fast forward a couple more weeks and now she sleeps through 85% of the time!

I’M A NEW WOMAN!

Is this what everyone was feeling all those months ago?

This euphoric wonderland that was a full nights sleep, had granted me the patience to not murder my child!

It just took time. I’m lucky it happened, I know people still struggling with their 3 year olds.

I value my sleep so much that I’ve decided to not have anymore children! How great is that?!

Sleep?

Turned into…

Sleep.

I just want people to know that yes, losing sleep sucks and yes we can read all we want about how to and what not to do, but at the end of the day… babies will do what ever the hell they want, so relax… “This too shall pass.”

“Welcome to Motherhood!”

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So, I know I’ve said that this blog is not just about being a mum, I stand by that. But the thing is I have to go through my phases of motherhood to get to what else is there. Being a mother is a massive part of my life, and believe me I’ve got a lot to say about it and this is just the beginning!

As previously mentioned, I  hate when people say “Welcome to Motherhood!” It’s so condescending and it pretty much invalidates every feeling you have as a person because you’re now a member of the “MOTHER-HOOD”.

“I’m so tired”, I would say.

“WELCOME TO MOTHERHOOD!” Some Baby Boomer would chant in a, you guessed it, condescending tone.

… No. I have always been this tired, I have always been this air headed and yes I have always been this depressed.

Because I am somewhat classified as a young mother, I had quite a few people trying to prove to me that I wasn’t ready. When in reality… every new mother is ALWAYS tired, forgetful and a little down at times!

Yes, some people say it to mean well. But I swear to God majority of people who have said this to me, were trying to prove a point, that I was ill equipped for motherhood.

You know whats worse than another mother saying that? SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T HAVE CHILDREN! Not sure what would possess a childless person to say it. Arrogance maybe? Ignorance? Who knows.

So please… Don’t ever say “Welcome to Motherhood” to a new mother, unless you mean it in a congratulatory sense and please don’t say it if they’re clearly struggling, you just invalidate their feelings and it’s a shit move.

Obviously this is not the worst thing that’s been said to me… But it’s definitely the most annoying.

Pretty much just avoid saying anything to a new mother because WE ARE CRAZY. We are unpredictable, we are like scared little hermit crabs, who just want to hide in their shells and avoid loud encounters.

Know what else triggers us?

Pretty much anything else that might insinuate that we have no idea what we are doing.

I mean, it’s the truth… But you’re not meant to actually say it out loud!

On a serious note I feel so honoured to have some amazing mums apart of my support system, even mums I’ve never met but have connected with over social media, it’s amazing how close you can feel! My biggest bit of advice to anyone new to the Mother-Hood, is that you should reach out! To anyone! You are not alone in your struggle, find a play group, hell find a mum group on FaceBook! But not a shit one with petty people who aren’t for supporting another mothers struggle, we don’t like those people.

People say shit things, but trust me there are so many people in your corner, you just have to sift through the negative Nancy’s.

Why Now?

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I have the time! Finally after having no time for over 18 months, I have the time! I also have the motivation… somewhat. I also have a little bit of confidence. Not so much in my writing, just in my willingness to share. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to actually articulate anything. I’m used to texting and being lazy with my grammar, spelling and flow of sentences.

I have very supportive friends, to whom I’m very grateful to. No one has said, “Ew God no, no one gives a shit about what you have to say!”, which is my biggest fear when doing something new. In reality I don’t think it’s my friends I’m scared of when I make my thoughts and dreams public, I think it’s the old friends and the strangers, because they have nothing to lose when they read and react to a post. They can say what ever they like with no consequence, and that is what scares me.

I have to keep reminding myself that this is for me, and when I start writing for others, that’s when I need to stop. I want to commit to one blog post a week, on subjects that I’m drawn to at that time. But to be honest I’m not sure how consistent I can be, but I want to make it a goal of mine. If I was to categorise this blog page i would call it a “Lifestyle Blog”, because I feel that’s a broad category, and I’m a broad person.

I want to share my thoughts because I want to see if anyone else feels the same way! I love connecting with people, and I feel like when you become a mother you become so disconnected because your life is feeding, changing and comforting a tiny human.  You forget about the other people because this tiny human consumes your life.

Baby Boomers love to say, “Welcome to motherhood.” in an incredibly condescending tone, that makes you feel inadequate…So i thought that this was it, for the rest of my life I was going to feel disconnected. I’m only just now realising that it doesn’t have to be that way!

What I’m trying to say is, I neeeeed this to help me connect, not just with others, but with myself!