Hello, my name is Becky. You might remember from my most recent post. Or maybe not. I’ve been thinking about this blog a lot lately but not getting around to actually blogging, even though I promised myself I would give it a good go this year.
I want to be here but I don’t have the energy to put together words and thoughts into something that makes sense and is worth reading. Although Felix’s sleep has been improving, I’m still struggling badly. It’s too late for it to be an easy fix with some more sleep now. And I don’t want to come here and carry on and whinge about how bad my life is, because it’s not bad, but I’m finding it so hard to enjoy the things I should be.
I also don’t want to not be here, not sharing my struggles because I know the value of sharing the truths of parenthood and postnatal depression. For others and myself.
Mostly, I am furious with myself. That I’m here and can’t find a way around or out. That I feel so frustrated when (all the time) any of my children follow me anywhere (everywhere) and want to share their stories and thoughts constantly. I’m heartbroken, because I love that and it won’t be long before they won’t want to do that but it is SO draining right now.
I hate that, instead of being happy to hear Felix’s waking noises, I sigh and think “Really, already?”.
I’m insanely lonely. I have started feeling overwhelming jealousy when I see mothers out having coffees, doing lunch or posting happy snaps on line with all their mummy friends. I’ve spent three years standing at the front gate at pick up and am still not finding much in the way of friendship. I’ve met some lovely ladies but the people I am expending my energy on while waiting at pick up are mostly those who are happy to move on when someone better to talk to arrives (my favourite time was recently when the lady who approached me stopped midway through her own sentence to go talk to someone else).
I’m hanging in there. Trying to go gently with myself and embrace what I can. Holding onto the idea of the holiday James has bought plane tickets for in August (please, please, please) and just doing what I can.
What else could I possibly do?
Thanks for letting me vent, got anything to get off your chest?
Linking up with Jess for #ibot
I love this photo. I took it quickly as my four Munchies had a swing together and put my phone back in my pocket without checking it or taking another. They all looked super cute swinging together and I thought it was be a great pic. When I finally looked at it this morning, all I could do was laugh.
Somehow, I seem to have captured exactly how I have been feeling in this moment. Hot, uncomfortable, smothered, slightly optimistic, chubby, over it, exhausted and fed up with my hair and it’s desire to do whatever it pleases. I can so clearly see myself and where I am at in this moment, which I find so fascinating, especially considering they were actually having a blast.
It’s moments like these that are keeping me going right now. Little bursts of light, helping me push through.
Felix is waking every hour and has been doing so consistently for some time now (with the exception of those two nights recently when I made the mistake of thinking things had turned around) due to earaches, heat, teething and over-exhaustion. His day naps are either catnaps or nonexistent.
My exhaustion initially manifested itself exclusively in hardcore anxiety – mostly focused on Felix eating. I find myself obsessing over the food I’m giving him. Namely the size and whether it is soft enough for him to munch on without choking. I cut everything up into pieces, then I cut them again and again and then I cut them in half again. I get to the table, look at what I am about to give him and feel it’s too big. Often, I then don’t offer them and go with something else. Having done baby led weaning with all three big munchies, it is frustrating and ridiculous.
I don’t know why I worry, he just mashes everything into tiny pieces and then licks them off the table anyway…
My anxiety has started to creep into other areas of my life and, unfortunately, starting to see some unpleasant repercussions of having not had enough sleep. I see my crankiness, overwhelm, overreactions, rage, and feel just so blah within myself.
I’m trying, everyday I’m trying, to have patience, to enjoy these holiday days and to regulate my emotions and reactions. Day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute I am fighting to stay in the light and see positives.
Some days it is much harder than others to ignore the lies my mind is telling me; that I am the worst mother ever, that everyone else out there can easily cope with what I cannot, that I am the only mother feeling like this or that I have nothing to offer others just to name a few.
I recently posted a link to an article on my FB page about Mum’s needing a few days off and I am that mum. I’m at breaking point and need to recharge badly. Unfortunately, we don’t have what we need to pull that off. But, that post and others like it remind me I’m not really alone in my struggles, no matter what lies I’m being told.
I’ve got to hold onto that, to the knowledge that other people struggle from time to time to and maybe my words will remind someone else out there that they are not alone in this.
Linking up with Grace for FYBF
Late the other night, after one of Felix’s numerous night feeds (he hasn’t gone back to good sleeping since his bronchiolitis), I sat in the dark kissing his chubby little cheeks, putting off when I would lay him back in his bassinet for just one more moment. I held his warm body to me, listened to his soft snores and thought about how, even though he is the biggest of my babies and by far the heaviest; this babyhood feels so much lighter.
I can’t remember taking those little night time moments with Ellie, Kahlei or Jasper. I hope I did. I do remember how desperately I wanted the feeds to go faster and to be fewer. I remember just how exhausted I was and how lonely it all seemed.
When I was pregnant with Felix, I was so worried about suffering Postnatal Depression again. I made sure I was aware of my triggers and the signs that I was struggling. I made sure James was on top of all that, too. To be honest, I thought it was practically a given that I would again suffer, having done so with every other baby – each time worse than the last.
I braced myself, tried to put processes in place that would work for us and not see me hospitilised, except the fog didn’t come.
Being finally able to enjoy one of my babies as a baby is a huge joy and is something I didn’t think would ever happen. Yes, I am exhausted and I would certainly like a bit more sleep and sometimes life is overwhelming but it’s on a completely different level.
And, my past struggles mean that even when I’m at the end of my rope I can still work from a place of gratitude that I have a beautiful baby boy and that I am able to experience this time as if I am a brand new mother. It is truly that different.
I know, when you’re in that dark place, feeling like you’re dragging your body through waist deep mud which drags you down and holds you back that you can’t see the way out. People say there is light at the end of the tunnel but when you look up there isn’t even that pin-hole of light that those words made you believe would be there.
Plodding through despair, surrounded by darkness and not knowing if there really is a brighter day on the horizon, I concentrated on moving through the muck and being the best for my family. On getting help and holding steadfast to hope. I had my eyes on my feet and didn’t realise when I turned that corner and the light started to touch the edges. I thought my eyes had just adjusted to the darkness.
Mumma, if you’re struggling, know you’re not alone. You’re doing your best. Your family love and appreciate that. Don’t be afraid to speak up and seek help.
And remember; there is hope.
Linking up with Jess for #ibot.
Sometimes, when I’m not coping, things around here aren’t that great. If I am honest with myself, things haven’t been the same within our family since early last September, when James first left us all behind in Bathurst and started his new-old job and I did some solo parenting, lots of traveling, house searching and a whole lot of not coping.
Of course, things can’t always be sunshine, beaches and zoo visits, but a little more certainly wouldn’t hurt. It’s that old thing, where if things are good they’re really good – in that moment. And when things are bad? They’re really bad.
I’d been desperately hanging out for our Pink weekend, I had tried to organise other times for me to get a break but nothing was coming together, so I was holding onto that weekend as a time to recharge, reset and start again. A time to leave all the difficulties since September behind and just go forward as a new, refreshed woman.
Of course, I set myself up for failure in looking forward so intently and placing every last bit of strength into getting to that point. We didn’t sleep, we didn’t relax. It was wonderful and worth it but also taxing. I came home, fully seeing a beautiful reunion and a shift in all those family dynamics which were plaguing us only to be greeted by over tired, sick children.
This week was meant to be a realigning of life. I was going to get everything under control and organised, instead I am trying to get ahead in a house that has, seemingly, imploded on itself out of spite for me. The more I forge ahead, the more bogged down I get. I am beginning to look around and feel utterly despondent. Anything I can get done they can undo in double time.
There’s too much yelling. There are things I started to allow back in September because it was what I needed to do to get through that time. We do what we’ve gotta do, right? But, there have been reasons to continue to let things slip and it’s almost been a year!
Things need to change. I know that. I do.
I’m just so exhausted. But, it turns out throwing my hands in the air and yelling more than I would like just isn’t getting us anywhere. Crazy, I know.
Where we go from here, I don’t really know.
How do you cope when you’re not coping at all?
Linking up with Jess for #ibot.
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I have readily agreed to Switch Off for myself and my family and wanted to share with you in case you also would like to switch off. I was sent a digital detox kit to help with our ‘downtime’. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
In this day and age we are constantly connected. At any given moment, we can be checking our emails, flicking through facebook, tweeting, posting photos, playing word games, drawing games, messaging, blogging, reading blogs. Or, we could even be making phone calls. Through these amazing technological advances we are able to keep in touch with friends and family near or far and we are able to do it where ever we are, whenever we feel like it. We no longer have to wait until we a home to sit at our computer or haul out our laptop. The whole world is accessible and we keep it in out pockets, bags, or in my case, bras.
As a stay at home mum of three children, I certainly appreciate that I am never more than a moment away from adult interaction. Having spent the first two years of my parenting life feeling completely isolated, I find much comfort in the knowledge that I can reach out when I need to and I often do.
At one stage I was always checking my phone or always getting on my laptop to check my comments on the blog, on facebook, on instagram. I found solace online as I struggled with Postnatal Depression and it was all too easy to get lost in the cyber world.
Then, I happened upon Hands Free Mama, her beautiful words broke me. I was hiding in a world away from my children and it was a painful reality to face.
I implemented rules for myself about the use of my phone, my online time, blogging time and when I could have my laptop out. I moved all blogging, writing and reading, to when the children were sleeping. No phones at the table. No social media when my children wanted to be interacting with me.
If you’re connected with me online you probably see lots of photos on Instagram. I do take heaps. But, generally, I wait for a more appropriate time to upload them. I take a snap or a video and then put my phone away. Or, if I needed to upload straight away (for reviewing experiences and so on), my rule is to upload and move on.
If there’s a quite minute I might update a status or check my blog comments, but my rule is to not get distracted and only when the children are happily engaged elsewhere.
Obviously, the above is easier said than done. If it was easy to not get sucked in there wouldn’t be a problem, would there? I’ve just been sent some research revealing that one third of people are connected to technology for between 8 – 16 hours every day*. At reading that I was slightly alarmed but then I thought about it and I know how it can happen. You get sucked in.
While my rules guided my usage strictly for some time, I have noticed recently that I am getting my phone out more, scrolling through facebook instead of doing the things I promised myself I would be doing. At first, I denied it but more recently I’ve noticed that the longer it is since having some quality alone time (with or without James) to get my mental state realigned, the more I find myself ‘escaping’ online to try and grab what normalcy I can. Because I am struggling and I have to do what I can to find calm and balance. (If you have a holiday to offer me please contact me pronto).
I am not happy with it and it’s not okay.
Because of this I have put my hand up to participate in Switch Off Sunday this weekend. While I know nothing of Amaysim as a provider, I am pretty impressed that a company which makes it’s money from us being switched on and connected is initiating a campaign to help us take some downtime.
James is thrilled. I think his exact words (via SMS) were ‘Switching off is not my favourite lol’ but I think (hope) he will be surprised on the day. I believe we need it. I certainly do.
What about you? Do you ever have a day to switch off? Do you think about it? It’s a daunting idea and can readily be seen in the comments on the Switch Off Sunday post. People freak out. I panic about being contactable, but my kids will be with me, as will most of the people who contact me!
While being able to reach out into the world is such an amazing privilege which has blessed me with many friendships that see me through the tough times, it is also so very taxing. On our families and friendships. On ourselves. I don’t need to be constantly wired. I don’t need to know every little thing that’s going on. Right. Now. I can live and be free without the constant distractions and enjoy my connectivity on occasion.
I am going to challenge myself to stay off for as long as possible during the weekend and come back next week to tell you how we went and what we did. Are you interested in joining us?
* Research conducted by Pure Profile on behalf of Amaysim. March 2013.
Postnatal Depression. It’s not always black and white
Did you know that this past week has been Postnatal Depression Awareness Week? I have tried to write this post three times now, which is why I am sharing at the end of the week rather than earlier, but I am passionate about raising awareness and want to actually get something posted.
Right now, James and I are at Number 4. Packing, cleaning, tending to the house and sleeping in because we are childless.
We are childless because my mum, my husband and I have made a point of being aware of my PND and made the appropriate steps to give me – and them – a break.
Being aware of my feelings, moods and triggers is a huge part of my management plan.
Almost exactly 2 years ago, however, I was hospitilised because I didn’t pay attention to the signs that I wasn’t coping. In fact, I didn’t know the signs because after my initial diagnosis, 5 months before, I thought I could take my medication and pretend nothing had happened.
By that time, I had been suffering from postnatal depression for 33 and a half months. Or, since Ellie’s birth.
When I first brought her home, all I wanted was to be a good mum. The best mum. I thought that the exhaustion, crying – about everything, anything and nothing, anxiety, irritability, loss of confidence and self-esteem and complete and utter overwhelm would go away with time. I thought if I wanted it bad enough, it would dissipate and I would be that mum I always dreamt of being.
I thought that if I admitted to not coping I would be a lesser mum. A bad mum.
Once I was officially diagnosed, I didn’t talk about it with anyone but James. I didn’t want to disappoint. I didn’t want to be seen as being weak, which is how I saw myself.
I had no idea that I was one of many.
- One in 7 new mums and 1 in 20 new dads are diagnosed with postnatal depression each year in Australia – that’s 15 per of mums and 5 per cent of dads
And I didn’t know my silence was part of the problem.
- Lack of community awareness often contributes to parents remaining undiagnosed
The stigma surrounding PND and all mental illnesses is a dangerous one. We need to talk, be open and honest. We need to tell our stories and raise awareness for others but also for ourselves. We need to be able to speak up and ask for help because doing that and getting healthy is the best thing for our families.
Postnatal depression can’t be ignored. It doesn’t just go away. Admitting that you’re struggling doesn’t make you weak and it’s a step towards becoming the kind of mum you want to be.
Know the signs, know the risk factors, know your triggers and take action if you feel there is an issue, whether it be yourself, your partner or a friend.
Visit PANDA or call their National Perinatal Depression Helpline on 1300 726 306for more information, resources or help.
If you have a friend who suffers from PND and you would like to know ways you can actually help, pop over and read this awesome post on Good Golly Miss Holly – it is the most practical advice I’ve read.