I’ve always been a worrier. I worry about everything all the time. From the likely scenarios to what if I slip on a bath toy, fall on my arse, get back up and carry on; to the far out, unlikely things that would probably never happen... such as, I slip on the bath toy, I fall, I knock myself out and the toddler is left unsupervised until my husband comes home 10 hours later…
Unlikely, but still something that appeals to my inner worrier.
And that’s the funny thing about being lifelong worrier, you feel slightly odd when you’re not worrying. It’s as if on those rare moments or even days, when things go well I look at myself and realise I haven’t worried all day. I haven’t let a sense of foreboding invade my thoughts. Instead I’ve been in the moment, enjoying it, allowing myself to feel unburdened.
But inevitably, the second I realise that fact, I find myself feeling odd. Conversely, it’s a feeling as if something is wrong. It’s as if my mind is saying, okay things are going too well here, brace yourself for the inevitable swing of the pendulum to knock you back on your arse like you deserve.
It probably sounds incredibly odd to someone who is not a worrier by nature, but this is how most of my life is punctuated.
Needless to say it’s exhausting and when I became a mum for the first time, I truly do believe it did contribute to my Post-Natal Depression.
But, and here’s the good part, as I slowly began to overcome PND, I’ve noticed that I worried less. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still likely to worry about stupid things, but I don’t find myself tied up in debilitating knots by it as much.
How did I do this?
Simple- by learning to celebrate the little wins.
In the early days of motherhood, I can remember feeling very isolated. It was January, the days were long and dark, my husband was working very long hours and I’d spend most of my time alone with the new baby . The weather was cold and it would take me an age to get myself and my newborn out of the house. Partly because I was a new mum and I didn’t have the hang of things, but also because I was terrified to leave the house with a newborn. To pack him up in the car and go somewhere was a daunting prospect.
What if I have to change him when I’m out?
What if he won’t feed?
What if he roars the place down and I can’t get him to stop?
What if I burst into tears for no reason and make people uncomfortable?
What if someone comes over and tells me I’m a crap mum and I’m doing it all wrong?
What if I can’t find a wide enough parking space?
What if we run out of petrol?
You get the idea. I became the What If girl!
I can vividly remember the first time I managed to face my fear and bring him out all by myself to the shops.
I think I held my breath for the entire car journey… but everything went fine. I got a P&C space by the door. He slept for the entire journey. In fact, he was as good as gold. I strolled around the retail park and I remember closing my eyes and breathing in the cold January air and I felt like I had just achieved something amazing; like winning the Booker Prize. I felt incredible. It was the most mundane thing in the world to an outsider, but to me it felt just fantastic.
I try and go back to that moment and remember it often. And as my journey through motherhood has evolved, I still celebrate the small wins. Like the other day when myself, the hubby and the little dude went out for an early dinner and a walk on the seafront. It was what I call a Carlsberg Day.
We got a table on spec, the little dude happily sat in his high chair and behaved for the entire meal. The food was good, the view was amazing, I had a glass of wine, we ate, we smiled, and we felt good. We walked on the seafront, we threw stones in the water and ate ice cream.
All totally unremarkable, but to me, it was another amazing milestone. Because at one point, enjoying a family meal out with my baby was something I thought I'd never be able to do.
It was a huge win. And I celebrated it.
Facing down PND is hard enough. Being a mum is hard enough. Being a worrier is hard enough. I have enough bad days, when I feel like a shit mum, who is overwhelmed and lost and I’m not shy in shouting about them, so why not shout about the good days too?