Welcome back to the Mums and Mental Health post series on Mumsy Midwife, this week’s post is by Nancy from My Fluxy Forties. She is discussing how she manages her mental health after postnatal depression. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, go and take a look! If you want to see the other posts in the series click here.
“Last week, I reduced my working hours. I’m lucky – I have a very flexible job and an infinitely patient boss.
I’ve been struggling managing a complicated school run spanning two counties, and a whole heap of guilt around some poor, rushed choices I made for my kids (school stuff). I have had that old familiar gnawing at my guts since the end of last year, and my anxiety has been creeping back into my life.
I know this feeling now. I also know that when I am becoming anxious about nonsensical stuff and I can’t make the simplest decision (let alone a big one, which often coincides), I have to STOP. To slow down. To make a change. This time around, I saw it early and already things are clearer. I have seen my GP again, and had a bit of short-term help to sleep, but hopefully have avoided any long-term prescriptions. It has helped to stop the carousel of tiredness, exacerbating anxiety, further disrupting sleep and snowballing into hopeless, forgetful, unreliable, tearful sadness.
I also took out a bit of the stress and reduced the speed of life. I shall earn only peanuts but we’ll cope (we’re renting a room out to cover the difference). And I want to keep working. When my littles were littler and I was tireder and closer to the very end of my rope, I had a catastrophic period of anxiety and depression. Kicked off by a horrible redundancy process at work, but really down-deep it was the unrelenting of having two under two, then two under three, then two under four.
The shame of feeling dread at the start of the day. Of not feeling that milky, sleepy, coffee-mornings and mummy-friends connection with my second baby. Of dreading another meal, another bedtime. Another day of domesticity and washing and crying and Mr Tumble. Of anger at people telling me how lucky I am. Of older women telling me ‘we’ve all been there’, as if I’m just making a fuss. Of playgroups and small talk and not remembering what I have said, and repetition. And repetition. And repetition.
Life is no longer like that. We’re busy, of course. And I have little blips like last week (and the preceding few), but I feel like my mental health is manageable if I am vigilant and allow myself to prioritise self-care. If I take note of the important stuff and take action in good time.
My beautiful girls, who I thought were too close together, at 20 months apart are now wonderful friends, teachers and collaborators. At 6 and 7, they are blessed to be so close. And I know that right now I’m in the balmy good-stuff, the lull between two storms. The pre, pre-teen bit. And I love it and I’m honestly glad they’re so close. And I still can’t say I’m glad I had them so close because I don’t want to take anything away from the women and men going through that awful, dangerous wringing-out of all the ‘you’. And I swore I would never forget it and that I would always honour those people in the thick of it.
But I can promise you that life is wonderful now and that although I will always have to keep an eye on it, I am in control of my mental health and everything will be okay.”
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