I feel overwhelmed...
Not sure which way’s up, which way’s down? You don’t know where to start. Your head feels like it’s going to explode. In a time that feels as though we should be slowing down, you might instead be feeling like you've been hit by a bus & can hardly finish a thought let alone a sentence. You might find it difficult to cope with loud noises. You might feel like bursting into tears or crawling back to bed. We’ve all been there!
If you’re a new mum you’ve probably been hit by a wave of new and intense emotions, whilst also wondering what the hell you’re doing, as the old order of life has gone and you’re consumed by keeping this little person alive.
But even beyond the new mum stage the mental load of motherhood is immense -especially right now! With the physical and emotional demands of young children on top of balancing work and home schooling, all whilst being cooped up in our homes worried about health and finances, it's no wonder so many of us are feeling utterly overwhelmed.
We ARE strong, but sometimes life just squeezes us a little too tight. The relentlessness of it all, is just so powerful and we can be left feeling as though we are failing as we struggle to come up for air and see past the current challenges.
So how do we find our strength again? Giving ourselves permission to take little moments of calm through our day can be so powerful. And there are so many other simple coping mechanisms we can use to help us calm our racing minds and move through the tidal wave of emotions. There’s loads of lovely little practices on the Nourish app across a range of disciplines - from the lovely Nourish team. Because we've all been there. And we all know that #itsrealtofeel.
From the moment we got her home, we entered into our love bubble bouncing around with an overwhelming sense of love for this little person. Our small London flat needed a revolving door for the amount of visitors we had. Then after about 3 months, reality hit. My mum had left me, husband was back at work, visitors started to disappear and I was alone with this little human 100% dependent on me. Oh f*ck…
I’ll be honest, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I didn’t read baby books in the run up, I felt like we couldn’t get into a “routine” because every day was so different and I just told myself it would all just fall into place. Quite often when she cried it was because I’d probably set her off with my own wailing.
I was breastfeeding, she refused a bottle and was feeding like a demon, every few hours. I hated myself for wanting a break. I was in a permanent state of exhaustion and all I could think about was running away, just for a few hours to be “me”. As much as I loved my child I craved adult conversation. The girls I’d met in my NCT class plus a couple of other mum friends were my lifeline, but there were days when I couldn’t even face getting dressed to go and meet them.
I spent many hours sitting crying on our couch with my big veiny boobs leaking everywhere staring at my baby thinking “you deserve a better mum”. My husband would get home, the house would be a mess and I looked just as bad, he would say “go to my mum’s and they will help you”, but I couldn’t help but think they would judge me too.
I realised I needed help and once that had settled with me it was like a turning point. I trotted off to the doctors and was diagnosed with PND and prescribed Sertraline. Even then I remember stashing the box, refusing to accept I was depressed and saying I could fix myself. It was months later when the feelings of loneliness and self doubt crept back that I gave in and took the tablets.
I’ll never forget the Doctor saying “this isn’t a reflection on you, it’s not a failing. This is a chemical imbalance in your brain, almost like two crucial parts have separated and these tablets will bring them back together”. It was a real turning point for me and all of a sudden it started getting easier.
I was totally unprepared for the emotional demands of motherhood and the emotions motherhood would draw out of me. I always thought I’d be a really calm, lovely, emotionally aware mum who would just say the right thing and do the right thing at the right time. The reality was that I was in freefall after birth, juggling work and family life & exhausted a lot of the time.
80% of the time it was as I’d expected, but the tiredness and lack of control in my life led to frustration and feelings I hadn’t seen coming. Resentment at my partner, frustration when my baby wouldn’t sleep, moments of rage where I would just need to leave the room and cry somewhere, letting out a silent scream or sometimes a real scream.
Then of course there was the shame and guilt at those moments where my emotions weren’t comfortable and it didn’t feel nice, I didn’t feel nice. These emotions that no one had talked about and I thought I was a rubbish mother and the only one feeling them.
How did I cope? By stepping away, reconnecting with myself and asking for help or taking it when it was offered. Speaking to someone; a friend and also a therapist who helped me see the normalness of those emotions in those situations. Learning to be kind and understanding towards myself rather than beat myself up for being human.