To put it plain and simple: I have anxiety.
I think people hate me before we’ve even shared a glance;
I think people hate me or have forgotten about me even when we have shared a glance several times and I’ve known the person for several years;
I hate calling people; it takes me forever to message people back or I just won’t, because I feel like if I don’t think about what I say I’ll say something stupid;
I try so hard not to burden people with my problems and worries I either laugh when some asks how I am, or say ‘I’m fine though, It’s cool, don’t worry’ so they leave me to cry myself to sleep in peace. (yay)
So basically the truth is I don’t really do much or talk to many people.
Part of my anxiety comes from the preconception that young parents are lazy parents and palm their kids off to grandparents and more experienced people growers.
Now I’m not going to lie to you.. I’m completely guilty of sometimes letting Stu and Deedee Pickles from Rugrats take over parenting duties for a long while I catch up on sleep, or piling toys into Kamari’s cot and let him swim around in primary coloured books and teddy bears that play high pitched”rinky-tinky” (as my mum would call it) nursery rhymes , because I want to watch a youtube video of someone making a giant onion ring. (It was great. Now I’m hungry.)
I’m human. I’ve got to have a break… but am I’m in no way a lazy parent.
Unfortunately my wonderful anxiety constantly wants to let me know that I must prove to everyone that I’m not a lazy parent. Super fun.. super cool…
In August after 3 (nearly 4) long relatively sleepless (thanks Kam) months of waiting, I started going to counselling sessions. (if you’re in the bristol area and need counselling try Off The Record… all lovely and helpful people)
I met my counsellor “M” who literally was one of the coolest looking people I’ve ever met, we sat and had a chat about My life, my love and motherhood.
It was nice to be able to unload.
We very soon established that my brain worked (sometimes still does) in two parts; I had a ‘mean’ voice and a rational voice. My mean voice, who I ended up calling Nova, was huge. like massive one hundred time bigger than my rational voice (who is actually nameless to this day. I might call him Steve. Steve sounds like a rational/nice dude.)
So for example this is how I process things:
Situation: My friends are socialising and I see pictures/video/etc on social media.
Steve: awh cute. my friends are cool. how nice they’re having a good time. yay! sure you can’t be there but, you’ve got a phone give ’em a text!
Nova: Lol they’re having the best time without you. If you were there it’d would be the worst gathering to date. You shouldn’t even be thinking about socialising anyway. You’re a mum. No one wants to talk to you anyway. Don’t even think about texting them, they wouldn’t care anyway. You should probably take up knitting and buy a rocking chair. You’ll never be able to go out again. You don’t deserve to go out anyway… and you’re fat. lol.
Steve: well I mean I don’t think tha-
Nova: Shut up Steve.
I doubt I ever had postpartum depression – Maybe I did. I really don’t know. All I can say is ( and my boyfriend, as adoring as he is, would agree) that for the first few months I was not myself at all.
I will put on my big girl pants and admit that I am VERY self deprecating.. and in those first few months it was so. much. worse.
Before you’ve decided whether or not you want to insult me, I’ve already insulted my hair, skin and outfit and helpfully written you a list of good follow on insults to really hit me in the self-esteem.
Parenthood is wonderful; Parenthood is stressful. When you’re not expecting parenthood and you’re young, as much as people tell you “You’re young, you can do so many things! You have so much time!” Sometimes.. it really doesn’t feel like that.
I had a lot of trouble acknowledging that I was actually a separate person to Kamari; Human babies are pretty helpless in the grand scheme of things and helpless is how I felt.
When Kamari wakes up, I change his nappy, reading him a book or play with him, make his breakfast, feed him breakfast play with him some more until he gets cranky and falls asleep… then I’ll make myself something to eat. of course I want to do that for my son, but as humans we have to look after ourselves as well as parents we most definitely need to look after ourselves: we’re going to be looking after someone else for at least 18 years and worrying about them forever and always – that’s a lot of stress. (no offence, kids!)
When I was still having counselling, Me and ‘M’ developed a simple way of working out what I wanted to do to relax and how I’d go about doing them.
We just took a piece of paper and wrote down ‘Just For Me’. On the left we wrote ‘With Kamari’ and on the right we wrote “by myself”.
For example: ‘Go to the park’: I could go to the park with Kamari. then I’d put the notes ‘I don’t need child care. just a day off and some decent weather.’ ‘Go to the Cinema’: I could go to the cinema by myself or with Kenroy, or some friends. ‘I would need childcare a day off and a movie to see.’
However big or small I write them down and try to add more and actually make time to do some as the weeks pass – Paint my nails, go to the gym, sleep at a hotel and order room service etc.
Basically what I’m training myself to do (and hopefully giving you good advice on) is not feeling guilty or unworthy. Parenthood is hard. You need down time.
It’s not about leaving the baby out and being irresponsible, it’s about keeping yourself sane.
If you want to have a go doing this, I’ve left a downloadable version of my Just For Me page here so you don’t have to use a pen for as long! (We are millennials after all!)
Doodle, scribble, cut and paste everything you want to do on that page. it’s quite minimal so make it yours!