Something that I’ve really struggled with all my teenage and adult life is loving myself. I have always had a low opinion of my self and lacked confidence, but with postnatal-depression my self-esteem really took a bash. Not only did I not like the person I was, I was also doubting myself as a mother and how good of a parent I actually was. I am currently trying to build my self-esteem and confidence to become the person I want to be. It’s all about believing and knowing what you deserve and I know I deserve happiness. I know some days will be hard and some days I will struggle to believe in myself, but it’s all about picking yourself back up and not letting those feelings linger and not letting them work their way in so you believe them.
I’m finally feeling well enough to enjoy parenting again and am able to appreciate my children. I can now feel emotions of love and happiness and not just pain and sadness. My children are my main focus through this and I need to get better for them not just myself. I need to love myself so they can grow up knowing how to love themselves. I need to be the role model my children deserve and the support for them when they need encouragement.
I am taking this time to focus on myself and putting my needs first. I am no longer doing things just to make others happy. I am looking after myself, I am taking the time for long baths in peace so I can unwind and relax after a day, going to the gym so I can feel healthier and doing something for myself, writing my blog as its therapeutic and puts things in perspective, taking time to do my make up and hair so I can feel more like me and occasionally treating myself to something I want and not just need. I have dedicated 18 months of the last five years growing humans and 2 1/2 years breastfeeding them and it’s my turn to be a little selfish and start focusing on myself. I have given everything I have to my children and can no longer give as much, unless I start looking after myself. I am Michelle and not just mum and need to focus on what makes me happy from time to time.
These last 18 months have been extremely hard on myself, but they have also been enlightening. I have learnt so much about myself and why I am, the way I am and what makes me act in certain ways. I know I will never been perfect and I am letting go unrealistic expectations and starting my life as a new blank page. I am fortunate that I feel love everyday from the family that I have helped create and I am rich in so many ways besides wealth. Life is good and my happiness is reachable.
I have been back home from holiday for almost a week and have been so worried about how I would stay positive, cope going back to work and having to get back into our normal routine. I’ve found that I can spiral quickly when things are on top of me and when I feel overwhelmed and with coming back to a house with a mountain of washing, school runs, catching up on jobs and going back to work I was unsure how I would cope. The first couple of days after getting back from our holiday I stayed in and just caught up on washing and jobs around the house, I wasn’t feeling very motivated as I’m sure no one is about washing, but I pushed myself to get it done. I find it so easy to get myself stuck in a rut and not going out of the house. On a Monday I now usually go to a gym class, but with Mr T being full of cold I was stuck in doors for the whole day which had then made me anxious and I struggled to stay positive about returning back to work the following day.
Miss J had her first nativity play this week as a towns person, which she has been very excited about. She’s been singing the songs all week and was so excited that me and daddy would be coming to see her. Unfortunately were not able to see her much in the nativity as we didn’t get great seats, but she saw that we were there and she loved it so that’s all that matters.
My sleep on holiday had been fantastic, I was getting a good 8 hours a night plus naps most days, but since getting home I’ve been struggling to unwind and sleep again. I felt so relaxed and calm on holiday and since I’ve been back I’ve felt like my mind is racing again. When I don’t get sleep my mood can be effected quickly and it’s something that had worried me. Last night I downloaded Headspace app which I have used previously to help me sleep. I’ve put a reminder on through the app every night at 11pm so I can go upstairs and listen to it in preparation to sleep. The sessions take ten minuets and they really are so relaxing and I always seem to be able to get to sleep quickly after.
Something else positive this week was going back to the gym yesterday. I tried out the body pump class and can honestly say that I loved it and will be back again next week. I ache so bad today, but am determined to keep up with the gym so I can lose weight, tone and also feel better in myself. Before my holiday I had been going to Zumba class on a Monday which I am also really enjoying, but unfortunately with Mr T being ill this week I had to miss it. I never thought I was a gym person and when I had joined other gyms before kids I soon got bored and stopped going. I think the key to this one is that I can go in the day when I have energy and they also have a crèche so by the time I’ve finished my class and had a shower Mr T is ready for his nap, so I can have some time for lunch in peace and we then can have a lovely afternoon playing. Mr T hasn’t been in a nursery yet so this time for him has been great for him to be away from me and to interact with other children in preparation to him starting nursery next month. I have also taken some horrid pictures of myself in my work out clothes to motivate me to lose this horrible belly and massive thighs of mine, I don’t think I’ll be sharing those with you though.
This morning we managed to have a bit of an epic fail. I got Miss J dressed for Christmas Jumper Day today and then realised half way to school that no other children were dressed besides mine and my equally silly friends two kids. We quickly ran back home, did a quick uniform change and promised that she could put it back on after school, when I realised I had locked myself into my house. We had our door fixed recently which wasn’t done very well as we now need to use the key to open it from the inside, but you can open it from the outside if it isn’t properly locked. In the frantic rush to get Miss J dressed I had managed to leave the keys on the other side of the door. Poor Miss J had to go out the window and broke a plant pot in the process, so she could open the door for me. We then eventually made it to school, dropped Mr T of quickly to my mum and managed to make it to work on time. Another thing on my list of things to do is to get the front door fixed.
My job for over the weekend is to start writing out a chores schedule, so we can all do our bit in the house to make it cleaner, more organised and taking away some of the stress of it all landing on my shoulders. My husband is fantastic as he works long hours, but to do anything he has to be told and he has a habit of leaving clothes, cups plates and sweetie wrappers all around the house. My husband like many others still lives like a teenager and with the children taking up so much of my time it’s his time to start chipping in. My darling husband you are no longer going to be picked up after and you are in charge of you own mess. Another job for me this weekend is to have a clear out whilst Miss J is staying with her nanny. I have made a start going through the children’s clothes and packing up a big bag to go to a local hostel for young mums. Tonight I will be making my yearly Christmas card and calendars for the grand-parents so I can tick off something else on my never-ending list. Getting the children to stay still and happy last night for pictures for the Christmas card was extremely frustrating (see blog post picture), until we discovered jelly tots. We eventually managed to get a decent picture through bribery and got the children hyped up on sugar just before bed.
I have my first appointment with the mental health community team next week to see what long-term help they can offer me. I’m so nervous about going, but I know it will be a hugely positive thing for me to have this support so I can continue to get better.
I have set my goals for the following week to stay positive and achieve what I can. Any achievement for me to improve even if only slightly is a huge step in the right direction. I will continue doing my affirmations everyday to make sure my head is in the right place.
Today has been one of those days. I have struggled from the moment I got up this morning with my anxiety and depression. I have felt fragile, like I could break any second. I have been questioning myself as a mother, questioning how much I actually love my children. Do they deserve better? Am I just hopeless? Do I not deserve joy and happiness?
Postnatal depression has reared its ugly head and has tried to crumble any kind of confidence I had gained, self-esteem, self-worth and has tried to plague me full of self-doubt, negative thoughts and guilt. I let it come in gradually and started to believe again what a terrible mother I am and how my children deserve better. I hate feeling like this and always having to battle every single day for my happiness or lack of it. I don’t want to be this person and I don’t want it to consume me and have control over me.
I forced myself like I do every day to go through my blog posts comments and started to feel an ounce of happiness again. For someone to say my writing resonates with them or it has helped them feels amazing and is a huge boost to my confidence. I’ve got to keep going and keep on writing as it really does help me so much.
As I was finishing replying to my last comment Mr T awoke and started to cry, so I went straight into his room and picked him up out of his cot and settled into the nursing chair. I could smell the smell of his warm dribble and stroked his messy hair, whilst I let him have his milkies. As he lay in my arms, latched on to me, eyes rolling back, I felt at peace, I felt like I had a purpose, I knew this is where I should be and what I am worth.
The fact that I have two beautiful children that love me unconditionally is amazing and my biggest weapon in fighting this horrible thing. These two people hang on to my every word, they cry for me, they want my cuddles, my kisses and my bedtime stories. I am everything to them as well and they are everything to me. I have a family who loves together, plays together and cries together.
I love unconditionally. I am unconditionally loved.
My task for this week is to find happiness again. I feel like I’m now ready for a few challenges which I know will make me feel better so I can get back to work as soon as possible. My biggest worry this week is being weaned off the medication I was on to help me relax and sleep, but I’m hopeful that I can do it if I have other things in place to make me happier.
Affirmations are something that do work from experience but over the last few weeks I’ve neglected them completely as I’ve been stuck thinking negatively, but I am ready to start these again. See a post I’ve written about affirmations click here . Something else I am starting again is my head space app which from experience has really helped me unwind before bed and clear my head. I find that with my anxious thoughts my mind races at 100 miles per hour and I really struggle to switch off and fall asleep, so I need to again adopt a calming bedtime routine to help stop this.
I’m planning on visiting a gym tomorrow which is local and has a crèche so at least on my days off I can have some time to myself and get fit at the same time. We all know how important endorphins are to make us feel happier so I think if I do a couple of classes a week to start with like Zumba and Pilates Its time to myself, gets me fit, I feel better and I’ll hopefully lose some pounds.
I treated myself to a lovely organiser a few days ago from Paperchase http://www.paperchase.co.uk/ which I am hoping will make my life easier. I have a terrible memory especially with my medication so I thinking if everything is written down and scheduled in it will make me more likely to complete these things. I have a habit of cancelling on things at the moment as my anxiety and depression make it hard for me to get out.
A massive achievement this week for me has been to schedule my first counselling assessment on Tuesday which I know is going to be incredibly difficult, but its something that needs to be put in place so I don’t go back to where I was before and I know the long-term benefits will definitely be worth it.
I am back on Slimming World this week and will be eating plenty of fruit and vegetables as after a 4.5ib gain last week I’m feeling pretty rotten. I gained as I didn’t care and ate what I wanted to try to get some comfort, but I know this isn’t effective as at the time it might be nice and feel good to indulge, in the long-term it makes you feel guilty, sluggish and your jeans tighter. I need to get healthier for my own mental wellbeing as well as my health and stop using food as a coping mechanism. Check out my tasty slimming world soup recipe click here.
I have become guilty of palming my children off to the TV and tablet over the last couple of weeks as I haven’t been able to connect with them emotionally in my depressive state. TV is great and I have no issues with them watching it but they need a healthy balance. This week I’m going to focus on getting on the floor and playing with them, having the time to listen beyond their basic needs and laughing with them. Children can be the best medicine and without mine I would struggle so much more to get better as they really do bring me so much happiness.
Blogging has been a huge help for me to see things clearly. Writting everything down and reading it back is an amazing therapy and something I will be focusing on again, as it brings me lots of happiness. My mind last week was blank for ideas and it was something I just didn’t want to do, but finally now I’m sleeping again I’m getting some ideas again on what to write and I hope that continues.
Last week me and a friend went to Y spa which is local to us and I’ve visited many times before. If I’m honest I really didn’t want to go and have to face anyone, but my lovely friend arranged it all and forced me out the house and I’m so grateful she did. I had a lovely relaxing, child-free time and managed an hour-long nap on the heated water-bed. I had a fantastic facial and scrummy lunch and felt like a new woman when I left. I think spa trips should be compulsory to all mums every couple of months.
This week I’m going to be focusing on me and my happiness and doing things for myself again because if I’m not well I’m not going to be able to be the best parent I can be for my children.
Since I’ve finally had the courage to come out about my postnatal depression hell, I’ve had so many people either tell me they have had it themselves or that they had no idea I was struggling. Unless you are close by it is really hard to see how much someone is struggling. For me I buried and hid it well and even didn’t admit it myself for five months, but on the inside I was at breaking point.
I feel so overwhelmed with how many people who have contacted me telling me they have also been through this terrible illness and from people who have said they have found comfort in what I have written. This blog was very much about me writing for me, but it has turned into so much more. This blog is now about offering support and letting other mums know they are not alone in this struggle. I don’t have the cure and I am very much still fighting, but I am working through the highs and the lows, which I share with you all. I will do everything I can to try and lift the stigma associated with having postnatal depression and remind us all we are not alone and we should never feel ashamed of something we have no control over.
My biggest turning point was after reading into the chemical changes in our brains which can cause depression. For me to see it in black and white that it wasn’t my fault it was a relief. I had an a stressful pregnancy, low iron levels and a reflux baby, so for me to look back now I’m really not surprised I did struggle. It is tough to have a new baby and so easy to become isolated and I now look back and I accept that there was nothing I could have done differently.
Postnatal depression has put me in a consuming world of guilt and failure, but it has also taught me so much about myself. I am thankful that I’ve had to take the time to understand how I work and learnt how to be kinder on myself. Something else I’ve learnt is mindfulness which I do try and practise regularly and the improvements are amazing. It’s so important we look after ourselves within as we do on the outside.
Over the last month I have been doing positive affirmations every morning and I’m shocked how much good it has done for my mental wellbeing. It wasn’t easy at first and I struggled to believe what I was saying, but now I really do believe and feel it and it gives me a huge boost. When anxiety gets the best of me I go through them in my head and my adrenaline seems to get rerouted to become confidence. It’s amazing how things we can do by ourselves can have such a positive on our mental wellbeing. Don’t feel like you are being stupid just know that you are becoming more mentally in tune with yourself and taking care of yourself inside.
Since my daughter Miss J came into our lives I’ve done everything to try and make her grow up feeling positive in herself so why couldn’t I do the same for me. Why did I tell my daughter she was beautiful, kind and could do anything whilst I told myself that I was ugly, fat and stupid. I would always give my friends good advice and pick them up when they were down but I seemed unable to do the same for myself.
I turned to selfhelp books and found lots of positive affirmations and decided I had nothing to lose. At first I tried to focus in to when I had moments of doubt and negative thought. I found becoming more aware of these thoughts helped so much as they didn’t just become fleeting thoughts that I never questioned. The more in tune I became the easier it got to challenge these thoughts and everytime I have a negative thought I now do an affirmation and it stops immediately. It takes practice but it works.
You can’t just say an affirmation you have to believe and feel it. Take a step back, focus on your breathing, get good posture and believe and feel it then repeat. The more times you do it the more it will become ingrained into you and the negative thoughts will slip away
“I am unconditionally loved in this very moment. I always have been, I always will be.”
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