A familiar story with a twist most people won’t see coming:
“When I became pregnant for the first time it wasn’t a joyous occasion, it wasn’t planned and there was no excitement on my part – just worry and nervousness. I didn’t bloom during pregnancy, quite the opposite, I nearly had a full house of ‘Pregnancy Symptoms Bingo’- I only needed high blood pressure to completed the scorecard. My delivery was a horror story and this was just the start of the hardest 18 months of my life. It was no surprise to me that I didn’t get that instant maternal feeling- I’d never really talked about being a mum so lacked any natural instinct. My best friend had texted me during the final weeks of my pregnancy advising me to ‘practice letting go of being in control’- wise words, I had no idea of their relevance or power.
To the outside world I was a good, great even, new mum. I was confident, capable, had my pre-pregnancy body back within weeks and I was acing my new role. This could not have been further from the truth. Inside I was dying- I didn’t recognise the person I’d become; scared, incompetent, worried, bored, exhausted and crippled with guilt that I didn’t ‘love’ my baby. A millions miles removed from the highly competent, strong, free, energised and successful professional I’d been. I had cries/moans with people on the particularly tough days (my first born was a poor sleeper and I was really struggling with breastfeeding but crippled by the external pressure that ‘breast is best’) but at no point did I say to ANYONE how I really felt no matter how many times people asked me how I was getting on. Embarrassed, fear of failure, overwhelmed by what would happen if I spoke the truth, I soldiered on.
18 months later, I fell in love. Yes you’ve read that correctly, 18 months… villages have been built in less time. For 18 months I dedicated everything I had to this little person without the reward all parents long for, that deep, heart aching love!
As I read this story I feel a sense of frustration and disbelief that this person didn’t talk more or ask for help. More so because this isn’t just a random story, THIS IS MY STORY! I’ve spent my whole life talking to, supporting and helping people but at my lowest I told no one! Even to this day most people don’t know this about me.
In particular to mark Maternal Mental Health Week but actually as a shout out to anyone who isn’t feeling ok I hope this blog either inspires you to get help or if you know someone who is struggling with any aspect of life – tell them IT’S OK TO NOT BE OK. I often say to my clients ‘Asking for help is 80% of the solution’. It’s the first crucial and brave step towards feeling better. I ask myself all the time ‘how do I reach people like me?’ People who think that not feeling ok or happy is just part of the process and you should just crack on and bury your head like I did!
Well, I write blogs hoping to connect with people, I openly talk about my bad feelings when I have them demonstrating that its ok to talk; I create and offer a safe and secure environment around me for people to feel they can say whatever they want, without judgment but with an abundance of empathy, understanding and most importantly solutions!
So if you’re not feeling ok or you know someone who isn’t – Don’t suffer in silence, be brave, have faith and ask for help.
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