Here at The Every Mum Movement, we are giving fellow mums a voice and inviting them to share their stories and experiences of maternal mental health, in our #MumsStoriesMatter series. the lovely Kathryn is joining our campaign and bravely sharing her story.
Over to you Kathryn…….
“Maternity leave was not an enjoyable time for me. I frequently found myself Googling ‘Why am I not enjoying maternity leave?’ I was constantly anxious, I never felt good enough and I never felt like I was doing a good job of being a mummy. I struggled to breastfeed, I dreaded feeding time and I hated him crying. If he cried, I cried. I constantly felt like I was failing him with everything I did, or didn’t do.
I got him in such a strict routine so that he would be a ‘good’ baby. If he didn’t follow the routine exactly and didn’t nap when I wanted him too, for example, my day would be ruined. I wouldn’t go out of the house for fear of him crying or ‘playing up’ whilst we were out. Everyone would surely judge me.
Even when the routine went perfectly, I would constantly cancel plans because I couldn’t face going out into the world. I would lie to my family and friends about what we had been doing, saying we had been out for the day or had seen friends, when even going in the garden was too much. I didn’t even want to play or interact with him sometimes. I would rather be watching TV or scrolling endlessly through my social media feeds – anything to escape the relentlessness of motherhood. I thought about my old life and freedom so much.
I didn’t like being on my own with him but at the same time I struggled to let anyone else look after him. I thought I was the only one who could care for him well enough. My self-care deteriorated. I wasn’t showering. I didn’t care what clothes I wore – my wardrobe went from bold and colourful too dull and plain. I was buying clothes I didn’t like. I didn’t even know what I should be wearing now I was a mum. I struggled to know who I was anymore. My identity was a blur.
I had guilt over everything!
Everything I came across pointed me in the direction of postnatal depression, but I was certain I was just experiencing what every first time mum experiences. I couldn’t possibly be suffering with such an awful illness. No, I was fine.
It took going back to work a year after the birth of our son, and basically not being able to function, to realise that I was not fine. I hadn’t been fine for a year and I needed help now. I made a doctor’s appointment and after letting everything out over 45 minutes, the doctor diagnosed me with postnatal depression. At these words, the relief I felt was immense. To have how I had been feeling for a year recognised as an illness and not a reflection as me as a mum, was liberating. I could now seek the help I needed and start my recovery journey.
My recovery journey has not been easy. It has had its ups and downs as recovery journeys do. With the help of anti-depressants, a year of counselling, being open and honest, a lot of self-care, a new found passion for reading and writing, self-discovery and acceptance, I am proud to say that I got there. I got better. And I now have a totally different outlook on life which I love.”
If you would like to share your story and feature in our #MumsStoriesMatter campaign, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. If you or someone you know is in need of support with their maternal mental health we have a list of services here. And, if you would like to read about a fellow mums recovery from maternal mental health then please see, the book “Bonkers – A Real Mum’s Hilarious Tales of Motherhood, Mayhem and Mental Health” from The Every Mum Movement Founder, Olivia Siegl here.