Lately I have been so focused on mental health problems such as stress, depression and also the risks and consequences that might arise as a result of these conditions. “Research shows that two thirds of us experience a mental health problem in our lifetimes, and stress is the key factor in this. By tackling stress, we can go a long way to tackle mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and, in some instances self-harm and suicide”
When I become a mother I first thought that my life will only be filled with butterflies, pink clouds of joy and also proud perfect mummy moments. Little did I now back then. First week of motherhood was exactly what I just described. But hormones are settling and routine (more like chaos) comes into the picture. Lack of sleep turns us into zombies trained to feed and change nappies. We got no idea what we are doing with those tiny humans and the fact that we have zero super powers frustrates the hell out of us. We are supposed to guess why baby cries: is he/she cold? Hot? Hungry? Sleepy? Needs a nappy change? WHAT???? Whys is that tiny human crying? Why would he/she not stop? We try everything and somehow we fail in a way or another. We make choices in order to survive. Sleep on a chair, co sleep (in your bed or baby’s bed), sleep while standing – anything that works. People tell you to sleep when baby sleeps and give you the worst advice posible out there. You can’t sleep when baby sleeps and we all been there and we all know that but somehow there is that certain someone in all our lives who will tell you this every day and all you want to do is punch them in the face because you know you can’t take it anymore.
Most of us will refuse any type of help. Out of pride, out of fear of not being seen as failures or simply because we are control freaks and we feel like nobody can do the job better than us (we all know you are actually losing your mind and ask yourself or google how to calm a baby down).
The problem is that we have all been there but somehow we never pass on the experience. We don’t pass on the fear or the failures. No. This is a secret. We only pass on the good, the laughter, the #proudmummy moments, the #happybaby moments and we post those amazing photoshopped pictures so that everyone can see that motherhood is so easy and beautiful. Because we do this, poor mums to be imagine that their lives will only be filled with those images as well. And this is the biggest mistake we make. For us and for the other mums to be out there.
Stress, anxiety and depression are a part of us and instead of hiding them we should just face them. Be strong, reach out, support one another and beat this monster. We should let everyone know that we are not perfect after giving birth, that we forget if we had a shower or not, that our tops are all covered in milk, snot or baby vomit and that we all thought of murdering our partners at least once (because they snore and the baby cries; or because they can’t guess what we think about and face it they should; because sometimes we go crazy and feel like we do it all and they just float around the house and because so many reasons it’s just hard to imagine). The main issue is that all I am talking about is just taking place in our heads and if we do not speak up, ask for help and communicate, nobody can do anything about it and the more we lock ourselves the worst it gets.
I remember when my daughter was about one and my anxiety levels went so high up the roof I could imagine people living in my house; some weird force pulling me away or just someone murdering my child. I couldn’t sleep and I was stressing out thinking I am just insane and nobody will understand me. The more I thought the worst I got. I fell asleep with my back at the wall in my child’s room so I can guard her from whoever wanted to hurt her. I cried and I cried until I had no tears left in me.
One day, I read a post from another mother and she was describing her anxiety and depression. I realised I am not the only one. I realised that she was so brave to admit to the world what was going on with her and I decided I have to take action myself. I have to become me again. Be strong and fearful. I have to beat the monster in order to get my life back. And it worked. And since then I smiled more, I looked at my daughter and realised she is safe because I am healthy and because I have the power to keep her safe. Since then, I tried to reach out to all mothers out there, make them understand that they are strong, they are doing a good job and they should not give up. I tried to make them see the beauty of this journey and understand that asking for help is brave and also normal. That they are not weak or failing just because they admit the struggle.
We all struggle, we all stress and we all fail in a way or another. It’s important to pick ourselves up and continue the journey, reach out, support and love one another instead of judging and bullying. We don’t need to be perfect, we don’t need to balance everything in life in order to have it all. We already created life and this is the most powerful thing in the world. And with this, ladies you showed that you can. So yes, you are entitled to be helped, you are entitled to scream and shout sometimes (I used to lock myself in the bathroom, look in the mirror and cry a bit or just give myself a pep talk) and you are strong, powerful and amazing.
If you ever feel like stress is taking over you, depression and anxiety are knocking at your door, please, I am begging you, talk to someone. Your GP, your best friend, a doctor, a nurse or a neighbour. Just speak up and this will be your first step towards healing.