I’ll let you in on a little secret – I have literally no fucking idea what I’m doing. I became a mother to a human for the first time in July this year, and even though our son was well and truly planned, finding the balance has been a challenge.
I actually don’t think it’s much of a secret that what we see on social media is a highlight reel, and parenthood isn’t actually hugely different. My followers may only see a few smiley pictures, the colourful food, and the well made up and dressed selfies, but the truth is I spend a lot of time cultivating that image.
Last year, Leo and I were mugged at knife point. Possibly one of the scariest moments of my life. I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder following this incident, to add to the growing list – Major Depression, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, secondary psychosis, disordered eating. The list gets longer every time I go to a psychiatrist, and I started feeling and acting like the only aspect of my personality that was relevant was my mental illness.
It’s something I’ve discussed with friends time and time again. I’ve been depressed so long that I don’t know myself without it. If I recover, I have 0 idea what my personality will be because I can’t remember what it was without a plethora of diagnoses. During my pregnancy my mental health was touted around as proof that I didn’t deserve to have children, by people I considered friends, by so-called professionals. I faced expressions of disbelief when I told people that yes, this pregnancy was planned.
Not even to mention debating with my own mother. In a time where I needed as much support as possible, she saw fit to instead fearmonger about vaccines, telling me the whooping cough vaccine would cause late-term miscarriages, that the vitamin K shot would cause jaundice, that vaccines would kill my baby and it would be my own fault.
I’ve really only in the last six months learnt to stand up for myself, and to take responsibility for my mental health and happiness. I don’t speak to my mother anymore. I consulted with doctors and made my own decisions about my own health, and my baby’s health. I chose to take medication for my mental health instead of suffering in silence. I spent time in psych wards when I needed the extra support, I made an effort to go to my appointments, to see my psych and my GP.
That’s not to say any of this was easy, quite to the contrary in fact. There were days where I just wanted to curl up into a little ball under the covers and cry for the whole day. There were days where I didn’t eat or sleep, and just stared blankly at a wall or ceiling for hours and hours. There are still days where Leo basically has to force feed me my medication and keep me in the house when all I wanted to do was run.
But I’m pulling through. I come home from work and my son is so happy to see me. He smiles and giggles and I can feed him and sometimes I can even cook for myself. The floors aren’t always swept, the laundry is quite often neglected, but I can provide a happy and loving home for my son and my partner, and they can get me through anything.
The most important things I’ve learned in this time?
- Let people help. Accept assistance when it is offered, and seek it out if you need it. You can’t do it alone and you shouldn’t have to. No one will judge you for not being SuperMum
- Don’t be a doormat. This will be one of the most stressful times in your life – you don’t need the added stress. Seriously. When someone oversteps, feel free to tell them to FUCK OFF.
- Stop using other peoples lives as a measuring stick for yours. You only see what they want you to see. You probably look like you’re doing amazingly on the outside!
- Last but not least, make yourself a priority. You are making a human and then you are either pushing them out of your vagina, or having major abdominal surgery. GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK. Take the time to shower – put your baby in a swing and put them on the bathroom floor. Remember to eat. Sleep when you can – you can live with a messy house, you can’t go indefinitely without sleep.
I’m not the best mother I could be. But I’m working on it. And it will be fine for me, and I promise it will be fine for you too.