Anxiety, stress, depression, yelling at the kids, yelling at your partner, bursting in to tears, a sense of overwhelming dread. Grabbing the bottle of wine, waiting for the warmth of that first gulp to numb your sense, so you are armed to survive the 4pm witching hour, then going for another glass only to realise the bottle is completely empty when you finally get to sit down for the night, with the final flutter of your children’s eyelids as they drift off to sleep.
This was the state of my mental health and wellbeing after the birth of my 3rd baby. And based on quiet and private chats I have had with other mums and all the internet meme’s out there, its possible you can relate to this too.
Don’t ignore what your body is telling you!
During my 3rd pregnancy my morning sickness was pretty bad throughout my first trimester and I really hit an all-time low. I didn’t have thoughts of self harming, but I seriously couldn’t function. My husband had to have time off to help manage with the kids, I struggled to go into work, and along with the usual hormonal changes pregnancy brings, I was pretty much in a constant state of tears for about 7 weeks, my husband urged me to get help, but I just brushed it aside putting it down to just being a pretty shitty first trimester. And as the hormones settled down the rest of my pregnancy was pretty smooth.
Georgia came along and cried the first 5 hours of her life, until we could get some food into her! Don’t believe them when they say they aren’t hungry when they are born, she was hungry and she was demanding food upon arrival! I had already battled through the breast feeding struggles with my first 2 and was comfortable with the decision we had already made before Georgia arrived that she would be a bottle fed baby. Even while the midwife was milking my non-swollen, non-tender, deflated breasts for colostrum that didn’t exist, as Georgia cried for food, I knew I had made the right decision. And this relief in itself was a weight off my shoulders. We brought her home and she was a breeze, dream baby sleeping through from 6 weeks
So with the feeding sorted, Georgia’s day and nights around the right way I thought settling into life as 5, shouldn’t have been too hard! And really it wasn’t, I had everything under control, we were in a routine and everyone seemed happy. But me.
As a mum, you are focused on giving everyone else the absolute best, and consumed with the worry of someone not being fed or nappies being changed. You give everything you have to your little creations, getting them to kinder or school on time, going to dancing or whatever extracurricular activities they are enrolled in or feel like you should have them enrolled in.
Then there is your relationship! Your partner that craves your attention too, and needs to feel validated in their behaviour, praised for putting on a load of laundry like it’s the biggest favour in the world, and you owe him. Then sometimes after dealing with shit up to your eyeballs the last thing you want is that “tap” on the shoulder!
So you snap!
After the tears, or the yelling or however you let your frustration out has passed and remains merely a dull thud of ache in your heart the depths of mum guilt start to wash over you. With just one you being shared by multiple people who need your all consuming love and undivided attention, how could you have behaved so poorly. There is no justification for the snap, where’s the wine?
A few of these episodes later and me trying to find a solution in a number of bottles of wine, my husband raised the subject of talking to a professional.
Can you ask for help?
I am a strong woman, I am told I am a strong woman, and I was raised by a strong woman. Being one of four girls I never experienced inequality growing up. Not in relation to the sex I was born as anyway!
So asking for help, to me was like admitting I had a weakness. I didn’t end up asking for help, but I got lucky!
Instead, I took Georgia in for her 12 week immunisations with our local nurse at the GP. In her past life she was a midwife, she saw the signs and asked the right questions. She asked how I was, and was genuinely interested in the answer! I tried to hold it together, but the tears started to flow. I told her I was emotional, I didn’t understand why, when I should be so happy and grateful for everything I have. Physically I was fine, but emotionally I was a roller coaster and my family was along for the ride.
She gave me a hug, and told me this was totally normal, being a mum is hard! And female hormones don’t always work in our favour. She talked of her own experiences as a mother and as a midwife and recommended a natural plant based supplement called Mannatech Plus, which supports emotional wellbeing and evens out the ups and downs of scattered hormones. I currently take 2 a day, but have been known to take up 6 depending on how……….jittery, I feel. (They are natural, so you can’t go overboard on them, my nurse told me she has taken over 15+ on her worse days.)
There are other benefits also, my periods are more regular, and not as heavy.
How I ease my anxiety and stress.
I also couple the Mannetech Plus, with My Anxiety Tea during the afternoons on days I’d usually be grabbing the red wine. Essential oils also help to keep things under control and I’ve found a dab of Eden’s Garden Anxiety Ease coupled with the Lavender also seems to keep me calm. If I have time, I will try some mindfulness or focused breathing.
It’s hard to ask for help, and I also know from my own experiences that there will be some of you reading out there that feel exactly the same way I did, but don’t know what to do, or are too strong to maybe admit to a perceived weakness. So this is why I have offered up my story and how I manage my stress and anxiety. If we can’t openly talk about it, how can we help each other?
Please know you aren’t alone, and if the natural methods above don’t work for you, I urge you to talk to someone. Message a girlfriend, your sister or your mother, email me, speak to your husband, see your GP, or call PANDA or Beyond Blue.
You are not alone.
Your mental health and wellbeing matters.
Our minds are the drivers behind everything we do, so if you are struggling with your emotional wellbeing how can you be achieving everything you dreamed of? Can you create while you are in a “funk”? Can you focus on the kids when your mind is wondering elsewhere?
Being a strong woman is fantastic, but it takes a stronger woman to ask for help! You are the only one that can wrangle the control from your emotions and assess how you feel on the inside. So please take stock of how you are really feeling. And if you think you might need some help, please just ask.
If you’d like to share your story, I would love to hear from you, please do email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.