This week (April 29th-May 3rd) is Maternal Mental Health Week. A week when we try to stop and think about our own mental health as mums. A week when we try and share stories of our own struggles with our mental health, during pregnancy, after pregnancy, during motherhood. It doesn’t matter when you may have gone through a tough time or for how long, what matters is that you’re not alone and to me that’s one of the truly amazing things about a week like this.
Because struggling with your mental health at any time can be extremely isolating, but especially in those early days of motherhood, it can be devastating.
But you are not alone.
For the next few days women will share their stories from all over the world. Each one will be different, each one will be raw and real, each one will move us, each one will be unique, but each will have common threads, and to me that is crucial, because in my own case, as I stumbled through the fog of post-natal depression I have felt very alone so many times. I can remember sitting there, feeling at my lowest ebb thinking no one else could be feeling like this right now. Thinking, I’m a failure of a mum, this is my fault, no other mum could possible feel like this.
But I was wrong.
Throughout my journey through motherhood and with my own struggles to adapt to this new change in my life, I’ve met countless mums who went through similar feelings, indeed the phrases and words used to describe our feelings are at times unbelievably similar. It’s the strangest thing, but sometimes I get a message in from another mum and she’ll say it’s as if I’ve read her mind and written exactly what you she thinking.
I’ve found myself whispering under my breath ‘we must be kindred spirits,’ more times than I can count.
And that’s the amazing thing, there’s such commonality in these feelings of PND, of anxiety, of not bonding with a new baby, of struggling to adapt to this huge change in our lives, of loneliness, of pressure, of un-fulfilment, of feeling overwhelmed, of feeling as though we should just know what to do and if we don’t we’re a failure.
It’s as if society has tried for so long to hide these feelings from new mums under a blanket of judgement and taboo that we’re only now breaking free of. As if we've been told we need to wear a mask and pretend everything is fine, when it's not or feel the wrath of shame. It's as if we're only now removing those masks and realising the extent to which new so many of us mums are going through these feelings.
When I started this blog two years ago, it was only as a form of catharsis for myself after I had hit rock bottom two months after giving birth to my baby boy. It was therapy, pure and simple. And the more I wrote, the better I felt, as if each word was a weight lifting off my shoulders allowing me to float back to the surface of the water I’d plunged to the bottom of only a few months beforehand.
I didn’t think anyone else would read it, let alone connect with it.
But again I was wrong. I’ve met so many other truly incredible women along the way. Women who have gone through their own battles with feeling overwhelmed by motherhood, fertility issues, miscarriage, anxiety, post-natal depression and more. Women who are currently in the middle of feeling overwhelmed and alone have messaged me to simply share their story or just to say thank you.
This week I’ll be focusing on my mental health, sharing new blogs on how I’m doing two years in, and looking back and those darker days.
You’ll find my catalogue of blogs on PND here or simply search Post Natal Depression from the categories on the sidebar.
As always I’m here for any mum who needs to talk.
Information on organisations who can help if you’re feeling overwhelmed or going through feelings of post-natal depression –