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 Kim is joining our campaign and bravely sharing her story.
Over to you Kim…….
I’ve always been a very outgoing and social person with a zest for life. Even up until I was being induced in hospital before having our little boy, me and my husband were cracking jokes and having fun just as we always had.
We had undertaken a lot in that year undergoing IVF for the 2nd time and in a country we’d never been to the Czech Republic. Putting all our eggs literally in one basket. Being brave one last time after 9 years of trying. Finally getting a positive result should have made me relax , the hard part was over right? Wrong I had a very anxious pregnancy with complications such as pelvic girdle pain and gestational diabetes. To top it off I ended up having a C-section due to complications with being induced.
But finally I had our miracle boy in my arms safe and sound. I thought I’d feel relieved or even relaxed that again I’d gotten through. But unfortunately the dominant emotion was fear. I was constantly waiting for something bad to happen, worrying that any decision I made regarding my child would be wrong and I’d inadvertently harm him.
This feeling didn’t subside with time, I brushed it off as tiredness or being overwhelmed as a first time mum…it was normal right? My new normal didn’t feel like me at all I wasn’t laughing or outgoing, I was worried, anxious and lacking self confidence.
Then I ended up being hospitalised for severe migraines and exhaustion, which meant I had to stop breastfeeding due to the medication I needed to take. This made me feel like I was failing at my role as a mum. Putting extra pressure on me and heightening my now out of control emotional state.
I started to check my son was breathing constantly & getting dressed during the night in case I needed to get to hospital with him. I dreamt about bad things happening to him or my husband. I didn’t like being left alone because I was worried that I’d do something wrong. Taking my son to Swimming lessons became a fight with my mind to control the irrational thought that I’d throw him in, or slip and he’d be harmed. I became worried to hold him in case I dropped him. I was in a constant state of irrational thought, paranoia and low self esteem.
I was paranoid that family were looking after my son because I couldn’t cope or they thought I wasn’t good enough. Whenever they took him out I’d contact them asking if things were ok and when I got no response I was listening out for ambulance sounds, checking if there had been accidents and feeling physically sick. Little did they know I was suffering with postnatal anxiety and struggling to cope. I was good at hiding it and putting on a facade that I was ok.
Luckily I realised something wasn’t right, then my close friend said she had noticed I was not behaving like myself. My realisation that I needed to get help was one moment stood in the kitchen at home where I said to myself I can’t live like this anymore. Earlier that week I’d planned how I could leave and convinced myself that my son and family would be better off without me.
I had no idea how to stop feeling like I did and I was scared that I’d be judged, but reading an e book found on social media helped me to realise my feelings and thoughts happened to other people too. I reached out to a friend who I knew had postnatal depression previously and her openness to talk and share her story really helped me. I went to see the doctor who was really helpful and set me on the road to recovery using medication and behavioural therapy.
10 months after having my son I’m still on my journey to recovery and I see a counsellor and also take a small dose of medication. I have some bad days but the good far outweigh them now and I’m in control of my mental health. Its not a quick fix but things do get better and there is great help out there if you take the brave step to reach out and be open/honest with yourself and others.
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 from The Every Mum Movement Founder, Olivia Siegl here.