I think that I’ve always been an anxious person. I remember being as young as primary school age and worrying about the silliest things. I would lose sleep over something someone said to me in the playground. Growing up I internalised a lot of it until it was dragged out of me, my mum could always tell when I was upset or worried about something. As I’ve gotten older and worked on myself, I’ve realised that it’s just something that will always be a part of my life but I’ve got to not let it control me.
When I was 21 I was diagnosed with depression after a really toxic relationship ended and my anxiety was at an all time high that I didn’t want to leave the house and I gained 2 stone from anxious eating. I was put on anti-depressants and moved back home to start rebuilding my life again. I was so young when I think about it now, I really shouldn’t have just been offered pills to make it all better but I took them because I thought it was the right thing to do.
Over time, I’ve been to counselling which helped massively and I’ve learnt that consistent meditation, cutting my caffeine intake and regular exercise really helped. Am I guilty of not prioritising my mental health since I’ve had Jacob? Absolutely. I think we all are at some point. And recently I feel like it’s come back to bite me on the arse. With everything that’s going on right now, I haven’t been able to arm myself with the weapons I need to deal with the situation in the healthiest way.I tend to keep myself so busy so that I don’t have to think about how anxious I feel, but this means leaving little time to rest and meditate which only makes things worse.
The frustrating thing is the past 10 months with Jacob have been the happiest times of my life. The hardest, yes. But the happiest, most confident and content I’ve ever been. I genuinely feel like my life only really began when I met Jacob. However, being a mum also means that even on a good day, there are 10 times more things to worry about than before having kids. You’ve got the biggest responsibility anyone can ever have, you’re responsible for someone’s life. How they see the world, how they feel, how they communicate, how they learn, how they love, it’s all down to you. Their future is literally in your hands.
I suffer worst at bedtime. To the point where I’ve dreaded going to bed and started staying up later and later only to exhaust myself when I have a 6am wake up call from Jacob. My mind cannot slow down no matter how hard I try. I also suffer from physical symptoms and I get pins and needles in my arms and restless legs as well as a really strong urge to get out of bed and go for a run. So many times I’ve been close to getting up in the middle of the night and running because that’s what my mind is telling me I need. It’s my fight or flight response kicking in.
So what are my irrational thoughts? Since having Jacob, I feel like I think about death an unnatural amount. This has only been heightened with everything happening with Coronavirus. I think about something happening and us being separated. I worry that I’ll go to sleep and I won’t wake up and I’ll never see him again, which makes me want to just stay awake all night just in case. I worry that something will happen to him in his sleep and I won’t have had the chance to say goodbye. I worry that one day we’ll be apart and will never see each other again. Jacob is such a huge part of me now, he is quite literally my whole heart existing outside of my body. I think sometimes we fear that we’re so happy and everything is going so well that something has to come and ruin it.
I struggled with writing this. And I’ve debated whether to even post it because it is really personal. And the hard part is even with all of this going on I still try my best to be a positive person, and to be a positive influence on other people. I would never want somebody to think that I was faking a smile or pretending to be positive when I wasn’t. I have good days and bad days like anybody else. I have days when I sleep well, I have days when I don’t sleep at all. I have days when all I have are positive thoughts, I have days when all I can see is the negatives. But I know in this current climate, I’m not going to be the only one feeling this way and I hope it helps someone feel less alone.
I really have worked hard over the years on this part of myself and want more than anything to be a positive person, but sometimes it all just gets too much and I have to admit defeat. I know in my heart that the things that are giving me sleepless nights are irrational, and something I shouldn’t be wasting my time worrying about. I want to enjoy every moment of him being this young and I don’t want any of it to be tarnished by my own worries. I can’t wrap him up in cotton wool and I can’t predict the future so I know there’s no point in worrying about it. But that’s the thing with anxiety, these thoughts are so intrusive, they appear like an impulse.
I think what’s most important here is that I can recognise the signs, and I know when to ask for help. I know when I need to talk about it, I know what I can do to help make me feel better, I just need to prioritise it. I’m hoping with some consistent self-love I’ll be able to slowly diminish these thoughts to a whisper.
Whether you’re a mum or not, mental health is a serious issue. Yes it’s hard to talk about, yes we don’t want to be seen as ‘dramatic’ and yes we’re aware that these thoughts seem silly to some people. But I think it’s so important that we open up about what we’re dealing with. You never know who it might help, and talking about it really does help to turn it into a more normal conversation.
To anyone reading this who feels the same way, you are not alone. It’s okay not to be okay. Talking about it doesn’t make you dramatic, or attention-seeking, it just makes you human.