Anyone who tells you that parenthood is easy, is lying to you. It’s been a long, exhausting slog since my last post. My mental health isn’t great, but getting better. Fighting through postnatal depression and social anxiety at the same time isn’t fun.
I’m sure every Mum, and Dad, out there feels how I feel at some point but when it’s you in that position it’s exhausting and isolating. Recently my mental health has been pretty bad. I’m not ashamed to say I have struggled through. I am both mentally and physically tired. I’ve found myself asking “What am I doing wrong?” a lot.
When you have a small, dependant human who can’t tell you what’s wrong. It’s difficult. So so difficult. Sometimes it feels like nothing you try works. It can be hours of screaming, restlessness and complete uncertainty which does nothing but wear you both down.
Freddie is teething, going through the sleep regression and potentially Leap Number 5 all at the same time. This has obviously led to total sleep deprivation all round. Not good. Now as we all understand, lack of sleep leads to an endless cycle of tiredness – inability to think straight – overwhelm, and repeat.
(Seriously, how do you get through the 45 minute nap thing? He used to have 1 1/2 hr – 2hr naps in the morning, now severely reduced to 45 minutes each time and won’t settle. He can’t link his naps together anymore. This doesn’t really help the inability to get things done around the house)
For me, recently, it’s led to downward spiralling. My unhelpful, intrusive thoughts and major doubts about myself have been forefront.
More often than not this week I have had conflicting thoughts. I’ve felt totally useless, full of self loathing and loneliness one minute but then the next prangs of proud and content. The postnatal depression has hit fully and it’s a difficult one to shake off.
Obviously going into the pregnancy, with a background of depression, I knew there was significant chance I would be hit by postnatal depression. I didn’t think it would be quite as debilitating as it has felt though. I’ve gone through depressive bouts many times but this one feels different, more intense somehow. The lows lower and the highs higher.
It’s not nice having so many negative thoughts about yourself constantly. The incessant feeling that I am a failure has been forefront with lots of unhelpful thought patterns. Even when several people are telling you that you’re doing well, it makes no difference. It feels a lot like a dark cloud making everything that bit more fuzzy and hard to see through.
Just me and my thoughts
It sounds ridiculous saying I feel lonely when I have someone with me constantly but its so different. I’ve always been someone who can cope alone and enjoyed their own company but recently I’ve started to crave conversations and adult connections. There is a certain point where being climbed on, cried on, screamed at whilst watching Hey Duggee takes it toll.
It’s one side of parenthood that isn’t talked about enough. The isolation from outside life. Over the past 5 months I feel like I’ve become more of a recluse than I was, which is saying something. There are days where I don’t shower, don’t answer the door and don’t talk to anyone other than having nonsensical noisy interactions with Freddie. Especially on the weeks where Matt is on the afternoon shift in work, it can feel a bit tiresome doing the same thing day in day out.
My social anxiety has gone through the roof because I’ve got so far into my own thoughts and overthinking patterns. One of the worst bits right now? I know it’s in my head. I know it’s a “me thing” but that right there is the problem isn’t it.
Unrealistic outcomes and made up scenarios
It’s not so bad when I am with someone else but put me in a unknown social situation, like going into a shop alone or trying to initiate a conversation, and I will immediately begin to catastrophise. I overthink, and over analyse all possible outcomes – even the ones that are totally unrealistic. I tend to make up scenarios in my head and end up talking myself out of something that hasn’t even (or maybe will ever) happen. Add into the equation, Freddie and that is where I have the biggest issue.
Obviously, as a Mum it’s my job to protect and teach him. It is my duty to keep him safe from threats and anything harmful, but what do you do when you start to feel like everything you’re currently doing is actually having the opposite effect?
My social anxiety has a knock effect for him, already at 5 months of age, and I feel horrible about it. Because of my mental health, he misses out on play groups and some social situations that could really benefit him. It’s not too bad at this age but I can’t let this go on for too long. I don’t want to be the reason behind him struggling to play or associate with others his age when he’s older because he missed out on this development stage. I get anxious just going for a walk around the block with him in the pram, not completely sure why either, it’s just an irrational thought that sometimes gets the better of me. It’s definitely a work in progress.
Reaching out and asking for help
I recently started a course of high intensity CBT, with the main focus being the anxiety and negative ways of thinking. I’ve tried CBT before with minimal success if I’m honest, but I am trying my best to reserve judgement. I’m not scared to ask for help with my mental health, in fact quite the opposite, it’s now just a case of finding the right help and support for me. It’s definitely not a one size fits all type of thing.
Every time I go through a mental health downwards dip, I feel awful for a while but then slowly start to feel more productive and focused. I find the best people around me. I’ve said this somewhere before but once again, it makes you realise the importance of those around you. Having people to talk to is the most important thing, granted I’ve always been better at listening than talking but it’s something to work on.
I’m hoping for a better day, week, month.