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My Journey Begins

How do you begin to write about yourself? Where do you start? What do you think others will want to know?

How do you start to write about how sad you are?

So, a little about me. I’m 30 and I have a 15 week old son. He is the most beautiful little boy I have ever seen, and he is an absolute dream. He came into the world pretty early and pretty quick, and we weren’t quite ready for his arrival but I guess he just couldn’t wait any longer to meet us! My partner and I have been together for three years and we couldn’t wait to start planning for our family. He is an amazing man and an absolutely incredible Dad. There is no way I could have gotten through this new journey without him.

I have heard about PND (post-natal depression) but never in a million years did I think it would happen to me. I still find it hard to come to the fact that I am a sufferer, especially when I have such a beautiful baby boy.

But that’s the problem isn’t it? I couldn’t let myself believe that I had it. I had a responsibility now, a new role as a mum. I didn’t have time to feel sad. I didn’t have time to think about what I needed to do for myself. I always knew that it was going to be tough. I knew there would be sleepless nights, countless hours of trying to figure out why my baby was crying, hourly feeding and remembering to eat myself. But, I never knew how much it would affect me both mentally and emotionally.

I put it down to sleep deprivation as to why I felt the way I did. Trying to stay positive when the feeling of fatigue was slowly taking over my entire body. The long days of trying to look after a tiny human and feeling like I’m just talking to a wall.  My partner was constantly asking if I was OK and if I needed help with the baby, but I always convinced him that everything was fine.  I was trying to convince myself that everything was fine.

It’s a hard thing to try and accept. Did it mean that I wasn’t cut out to be a mum? Why wasn’t I good at this? It’s MY baby, I made him, surely this should make me feel euphoric?

I can’t remember when I broke. I think that when my partner asked me for the umpteenth time if I was OK, I gave up. I just couldn’t lie to myself and to him any longer. It was draining trying to pretend.  That’s when things went even more so down hill.

The day I admitted to him how sad I really was, I sat down with a glass of wine and wrote out two pages of what made me sad. Writing that down proved that there was something wrong. Why did two pages of my life make me sad? How could that have happened? What made me feel worse was how could I fix it? If I hadn’t of written these things down, then I would not have had to face them. Now I had to. Now that my partner knew, there was no way I could get out of it. Things would have to change.

There were times were I really had to think and ask myself if I did want things to change, surely it was just because I was so tired and I was just being dramatic and wanting some adult attention. But no, it was 100% depression and I had to face it. I had a baby. He needed me. I needed him.

Now that my partner was aware, I think I started to feel worse. I should have felt better, but I used him to take the baby when I had had enough. Someone to take the baby so I could just go away and cry. Someone who would play with the baby, make him smile and laugh. Because I couldn’t. I would watch him and think why I couldn’t be like that. I loved my baby more than anything, why didn’t I want to show him. I used my partner to give our baby the positivity and happiness that I couldn’t. And that’s what made me feel worse. Before, I would force myself be happy. I would force myself to give my baby some fun stimulation, but now I had an excuse, that when my partner was home, he would do it.

He would always insist that I spoke to someone, always trying to get me to call the health visitor but I wouldn’t. I believed that I could do this by myself.

And I did try. But the days I tried, the nights were awful. I would sit and cry as I fed my baby and while my partner slept. I would sit and think why did this happen to me? Why do I feel like this? Will it ever go away?

Most of time I didn’t even admit to my partner how bad some nights were. I hid my sadness as I was scared I would upset him and I wanted him to think that I was OK and I was getting better.

I couldn’t tell anyone. I didn’t want everyone to know that I was failing. When friends asked how we were getting on, I lied . I lied so much, I nearly started to believe myself. That was until we got home, it was just me and the baby, and reality hit. Here we go again, just me and a tiny human that I have to do everything for. I tried to make plans with friends because at least then I could talk to an adult about normal life and listen to their stories about their lives without talking baby. It was something I looked forward to. When they would cancel, it would set me back and then have another ridiculously sad filled day. It wasn’t their fault, they had no idea what was going on as I pretended my life was great, they didn’t know that cancelling our plans made me sit straight back in my huge seat of depression.  It was then that I realised I needed my mum.

Opening up to mum made things feel a bit better, I didn’t let on how bad things really were, but I think she secretly knew. Talking about some things did feel like a weight (a very small weight) had been lifted and I could see the tiny light at the end of the tunnel. But again, I was still convincing myself that this would one day go away on it’s own .

I had countless conversations about PND, and how many woman suffer from it, and what needed to happen to make changes. The thing was, was that I needed to make these changes , I needed to own up to this depression and start making a life for my son. I needed to be the mother that he needed me to be. I started looking online as to what I had to do to sort this out. There were pages and pages and this then became overwhelming so I stopped. Then started the vicious circle of my emotions again. I felt like I was fighting a losing battle, but still wouldn’t open up.

My sister, my best friend, was next to know. Now three people knew and again I felt too much pressure to make things better. She however had spent time and sent me links to self-help sites and I never felt pressure to read them. If I’m honest, I didn’t want to read them, I had no motivation to do anything anymore. When baby slept, I wasted time watching TV or reading magazines. My energy levels had pretty much disappeared and I didn’t really care anymore. However, one link I did read. I read from start to finish.

So today, I am starting “31 days of self-love”, and this is my journey.

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Day Twenty One

Day Twenty One.

“Do something today to make your living space a little more sacred to you. Carve out a special place for yourself. Decorate in ways that make you happy”.

There is no space in my home to make more sacred to me. Every bit of space in every room has baby in it. Toys, clothes, toys, pushchair, toys, bathtime bits, toys, changing mats, bags filled with toys. There is no space for me. My things are covered with baby things. Even my clothes that are in the wash, are over powered by baby clothes. Even when I’m having a wee, I’m staring at a baby bath with a plastic, orange fish sat on it. He has so much stuff.

A special place for myself is the time I have with my friends. Because I need them. And when I am with them, they make me happy.

I never really realised how important my friends are until I realised I need them more than anything. A text, a phone call, meeting up for lunch means absolutely everything to me. Everything.

Having depression is a difficult thing to think about. I still don’t believe I can actually , really have it. It’s a time where everything hurts. My brain hurts. My body hurts. My emotions hurt. Anything can trigger the hurt. And it’s difficult to talk about. It’s embarrassing to talk about. I don’t want to talk about it. Ever. Because does anyone really want to hear about my sad life? How I spent all morning staring out the window while baby slept? How I made three cups of tea and forgetting to drink any of them, and then running out of milk to actually make another? But, my girls do. They want to know.  And I never really understood that I could actually be happy again until I spend time with them. To forget about those three cups of tea. To forget about the carpet that is covered in my hair, because being sad basically makes all my hair fall out. To forget that I haven’t showered in two days.

But to remember the good things. To remember that I am still me. To remember that I am human and I have feelings that I can share. To remember that even though I now come with a baby, that is OK, they want to see him too. He’s a part of our group now and they love that. I love that.

I went to a BBQ at the weekend to one of my closet friend’s house and it was a lovely afternoon. The little man and I got to spend the whole afternoon with the team and it was just great. Feelings of hurt vanished. Feelings of sad vanished. They are an amazing bunch of people and I am so grateful to have such wonderful people in my life. I don’t think they realise how important they are to me. How much their friendship means to me. How much they heal me.

I am always anxious about my depression. Anxious that it’ll come up in conversation, leading me back into my dark place, anxious that i’m being judged. But they don’t judge. They don’t delve too deep. They don’t push. We talk about normal things, holidays, work, relationships, food. I have never felt so much appreciation for a group of people.

And I think that’s what it comes down to. They make me feel safe. They make me feel human. They make me feel happy. And I couldn’t be more thankful for it.

I wish I could tell them that the special place I’d carve out for them, would be in my heart. Cheesy as it is, but I need them so much and they are there for me. They’re amazing.

Day 21

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What is my dilemma?

My sister sent me this and it’s brilliant.

I think that it is a really good source to use when I have had, or am having a particularly tough day. Even though it is pretty self explanatory, I don’t have any sense when I’m stressing out. So going to this really helps me out.

What is my dilemma?!

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Day Twenty

Day Twenty.

“Stop apologizing for who you are and the things that aren’t your fault. Embrace who you are. Love who you are. No need for apologies”.

I say sorry all the time. All the time. My partner tells me off when I apologise. But I can’t help it. I feel like I have done something wrong on a daily basis. I apologise when he comes home and I haven’t washed up. Because that is my fault. I apologise when I haven’t hoovered. Because that is my fault. I apologise when I haven’t washed his work clothes. Because that is my fault.

I am at home all day. I have tried to put some sort of routine in to place with my little one, and the majority of the time it works. I know I have about 45 minutes in the morning to give the kitchen a clean, do the washing up, stock up on bottles ready for the rest of the day and put a wash on. I know I have an hour at lunchtime so I hang washing up, I tidy the living room, sometimes I remember to have lunch. I know I have an hour at 4pm so I watch Tipping Point. By then I have no energy left. I just want to sit down and be human.

Other days, the routine goes out the window. And in all honesty that just stresses me out. And I worry. If we have a day date, or go to a baby group, or visit family, I 100% have a full blown anxiety attack in the morning because I know I won’t get things done. So obviously, I need to apologise about it. I believe that this is my job. I believe that because I am at home, I need to do housework. No one has told me that I have to, I  just feel that I have to. I need to not only look after the baby, but I need to look after the house. And I feel awful when I haven’t done something.

I apologise when I don’t feel well. I apologise when I’m tired. I apologise if I go out. I apologise if I stay in.

I think with my anxiety, I do worry. I worry about everything. And since having a baby, I swear it is 10 times worse. I can’t help it. I can’t control it. I want to be superwoman and be able to do everything in a minute. But I cant. And I punish myself for it.

I have to remind myself that my little man is my priority and he will always come first. If there is a pile of towels in the laundry basket that have been there for a decade, that can wait. If there are two plates to wash up, that can wait. If I haven’t hung up any clean washing and my partner has to dive in to find socks, I don’t need to apologise, at least they’re clean. I shouldn’t have to apologise about anything if I have spent my day with my boy, making him happy.

I am going to find it hard to stop apologising because that is my anxiety creeping out. I’m a worrier. Always have been, and always will. But that is OK.

I love spending the day with my boy. I love watching him grow, watching him learn, watching him laugh. And that’s all that matters, right? There’s no need to apologise about that.

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Day Nineteen

Day Nineteen.

“Look at your life. Is there a way that you aren’t respecting yourself, your wants, or your needs? Now is the time to choose to honour those things. Go for it lovely”.

I can’t deny that my life is pretty good right now. My little man has made it. I have my little family. And our family is just perfect. However, some days I can’t help but feel that I could be better. I try so hard to make sure that my little man is happy that I forget to try and make myself happy. Obviously he makes me so, so happy but the days just stress me out. Anything can trigger it. Not putting a wash on. Or putting a wash on and forgetting to get it out again. Mundane things are stressful. And I feel so bad when I haven’t done anything. Therefore, I feel like I am a bit useless.

Being a Mum is hard work. Even five months on, I am still finding things difficult. My little man is becoming such a character, a cheeky chap and I enjoy the days when we have so much fun together. But it is incredibly tiring. As soon as 7pm comes, I can not wait to sit down. Have a wee by myself. Have a bath. And I still feel bad doing that!

My partner is a great support. He can see when I need some me time and tries to make me take some. But, I don’t want to take it because I don’t want to have time by myself and over think things. It is never ending. And if I do, I am up hoovering, dusting, washing. I won’t actually take a break.

But, it is great when I do let my hair down and I don’t worry about home. I don’t think about what I should be doing at home. I don’t think about the washing that I have had to wash for the third time. But is that OK? Should I be going out? Should I be forgetting home? It’s like catch 22. I need to realise I do need this time for myself so I can feel like a human again. And I shouldn’t feel bad when I want to go out. Even if it’s just for an hour. I need to still be me.

I have tried to arrange days out with friends or family so we are kept busy. And that’s great. When we have days at home, I do sometimes feel at a bit of a loss. How can I keep this little human entertained all day without going insane? And that is exactly why I need to have me time.

My little man needs me to want to entertain him. To keep him happy. To help him grow. To help him learn. And how can I do that when I don’t have a clear head? I just need to keep telling myself that it is OK to do things without my baby. I need that time. It’s OK to have a break. And when I come home? My baby will be there waiting for me to give him a cuddle. Because he would have missed me just as much as I would have missed him.

AMY BLOG 19..

 

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Day Eighteen

Day Eighteen.

“Wear something today that makes you feel confident and sexy. If you don’t have something, buy something. Even if it’s a pair of panties that no one else sees but you”.

Today I wore a green dress, with white flowers that came down to my knees and was quite tight. I have had this dress for a couple of years and I love it. Obviously I haven’t worn it for a while as it is quite figure hugging and I haven’t had the confidence to be seen in it. But, today I made myself wear it. And I went outside.

To be honest, I was quite nervous about wearing it out in public. I mean I still have wobbles that weren’t there before. I was trying my best to stand tall, hold my tummy in, cover my middle. But do you know what? No one looked. No one said anything. No one judged.

Why am I so self-conscious about the way that I look? The last post was about seeing my reflection and I wrote about seeing a confident mum. I need to be confident about how I look. I mean, I’m stuck with how I look so I should be happy about it.

Wearing this dress today was daunting, but I realised that it was OK. How I look is OK. It doesn’t matter what I wear, how I wear it, as long as I am happy.

I still have clothes that I am working towards fitting back in to. But there is no rush. I don’t hate the way I look, I think I am worried about how I look because I am not used to it. And it’s that I need to overcome.

My body changed because I had a baby. I made a life. I didn’t decide to be lazy or change any routine. I made a home. My body did amazing things and I really should be proud of it.

My partner tries to reassure me every day and I still don’t believe what he says.

But, after today, after that dress, I am starting to. I wore it all day. And I was happy.

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Day Seventeen

Day Seventeen.

“Look at yourself in the mirror. See through new eyes. Let go of judgements. Love what you see. Admire every part of your gorgeous body. It’s fucking beautiful”.

I’ve been putting off writing this for a few days as I can’t think of anything positive that I want to say when looking at my reflection.

My body has changed so much since having a baby. From my face to my toes. And I have found it a massive struggle to come to terms with. I can’t see why it’s beautiful. I don’t know why. I don’t know what I can do to see that it is.

I don’t take compliments well. My partner always assures me that I look beautiful. After every outfit change, after slapping on a ton of makeup, after having a wash, even first thing in the morning. But I don’t see it. I can’t see it.

Everything has changed. Everything.

It’s hard to look at myself and see something beautiful. At the moment I hate what I see. I still have some baby weight left which kills me. I have managed to squeeze into my pre-prego jeans, but with a muffin top, and lets be honest, no one wants to see that. I pinch my fat all day long. I wiggle in front of the mirror. I constantly need some reassurance but I know that whatever I’m wearing is not OK. I am always changing what I am wearing. You can see my tummy. My jeans are too tight. I’m looking like I’ve tried too hard. It’s stressful.

When I’m off on a night out, the whole day I am anxious. How can I go out with people who are so damn good looking? I can’t be in photos. I look like a joke. I’m tired. However much makeup I put on, you can still see the bags under my eyes, the stress lines, the dull eyes.

There are so many things that I want to change. I want to feel like myself again.

I have joined a yoga class with a friend, I am starting the gym with another, I am trying to eat healthier. Not only do I want to look good again, I want to feel good again.

I know that it is going to take time. It is going to take time to get my body back. It is going to take time to feel like myself again. It is going to take time to be more confident. And I have to understand that. Nothing happens as quick as a click of the fingers.

I have had a baby.

Having a baby is an amazing thing. My body had to look after him. My body had to change to make sure he was growing as well as he could do. All my stretch marks, the extra bit of fat, the gap in my teeth, is all because my body was giving my baby what he needed. My body has done amazing, incredible things and that’s what I have to show for it. How I look is because I have made something beautiful . Each stretch mark is beautiful. Each pinch of fat is beautiful. Because without them, I wouldn’t have made him as perfect as he is.

I look in the mirror and I see a mum. Someone who is strong. Someone who despite the lack of sleep, keeps going. Someone who will make sure their little one is safe. Someone who whatever the feeling, gives the little man smiles.

I don’t think you can get more fucking beautiful than that.

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Day Sixteen

Day Sixteen.

“Write yourself a love letter. A real one. Compliment yourself every day. Take yourself out. Have a love affair with yourself. Fall madly and deeply in love”.

Dear Amy,

I understand that at the moment that you’re not feeling yourself. That you’re finding some days harder than others. That some days that you don’t understand why you’re feeling the way you do. Why some days all you want to do is stay inside and not see or speak to anyone. And I want you to know that, that is OK. It’s OK to feel down some days. You’re going through a really tough time, it’s a huge change having a baby. It’s a huge change to your life. To your partner’s life. And I get why things are hard to adjust to.

I want you to see that everyone close to you understands, and you don’t have to pretend. You can be honest. Please don’t be afraid to say exactly how you’re feeling. They won’t judge you. No one will judge you, and you really need to realise that. You know that what you’re doing is right. You don’t need to worry what others think. Your little one is happy, so you know you’re doing something right. And when he’s happy, you’re happy and surely that’s the best feeling ever right?

I want you to know that you are doing great. Your little boy is amazing. He is healthy. He is happy. He is growing into such a little character to which you should take credit for. You and your partner have made an incredible little human and you must be so proud of yourself.

It is such a beautiful thing being a mum. I mean, look what you have done! You made that little man. You gave him a home and looked after him until he came into this world.

You are a beautiful person. You love your family and friends dearly and that is such an amazing thing. And they know this, and you must know that they all feel exactly the same thing about you to.

You’re going to have bad days, but remember that you have so many people around you that care for you and will do anything for you.

Please try and remember that you can do this. You can get through this hard time. You can be who you want to be.

But, please have faith in yourself. Have confidence in in yourself. Your little man loves you so much. Your partner loves you so much. I know that you know deep down how amazing you’ve been. How amazing you are.

You just need to believe it.