I feel scared...
Can you relate? Anxiety, fear, stress. Emotions that can so easily rise up and overcome us in motherhood.Heightened for many in this global pandemic & the circumstances of lockdown. I'm pretty sure we've ALL felt some level of fear over the past few weeks.
It is such a natural, human instinct to want to protect our families and there's lots we can do to support ourselves in navigating those very human emotions, such as mindfulness and yoga nidra (lots of examples on the app). BUT sometimes those feelings can get out of control, become all consuming and overwhelm us. When this happens it's SO important that we reach out for the help and professional support we need.
We are sharing personal stories from amazing mums on how they navigated anxiety & fear both as a new mum & currently in relation to the virus and lockdown.
PLEASE reach out to your GP or another health professional if you are struggling with your mental health right now. Please don’t struggle alone, help is available. We all have the capacity to suffer from mental health problems and your GP or other health professional will want to hear from you. You can also find more resources to find help on our website: www.thenourishapp.com/resources.
I’ve become so much more strongly acquainted with my emotions since becoming a mum. It’s not just the strength of the emotions which surprise me, but the enormity of the range. I can feel like I’m skipping over rainbows and then losing the will to live… sometimes within moments of one another!
I’m learning to appreciate that motherhood is both messy and marvelous. Giving myself permission to feel my emotions has been really helpful - seeing every emotion in my range as valid rather than trying to brush them away. I find great comfort in the idea that by being real in front of my kids, I’m teaching them that it’s real to feel.
My top tip is to remember that even though it might feel like it, our emotions do not define who we are. In those moments where emotions feel all consuming – try to take some deep purposeful breaths and name the emotion aloud (e.g. ‘frustration’, ‘guilt’, ‘tiredness’). Then try to layer on some comforting words to yourself like ‘my emotions don’t define me’, ‘it’s real to feel’ and ‘it’s OK’.
I created the ‘It’s real to feel’ meditation you can find on the Nourish app for this exact purpose – to help me manage the roller-coaster of big feelings as a mum. It’s designed to help you to soften into your emotions a little and reminds you that you are not alone.
A few vivid memories etched onto my brain from the first 4 months of my daughter’s life: bursting into tears each morning when hubby left for work & the look of confusion in his eyes; fighting back tears when I met my friends who all seemed to be acing motherhood; spending every moment of naptime, googling sleep with matchsticks propping up my eyes; pretending to the health visitor I was ok; a constant feeling of guilt & failure.
The truth is I wasn’t coping, but I was so afraid to admit this to myself & to others. I had wanted to be a mother for so long. I was a successful & independent woman and yet I was finding it all too much. How could I admit that? I felt so confused & alone. I started hating myself for failing so terribly & not enjoying being a mother more.
My fears & stresses seem irrational now: worry she would wake in the night & never go to sleep again; worry that she wouldn’t nap; worry I wouldn’t be able to calm her; worry I would be irritable & grumpy the next day; worry I was close to shaking her; worry I wasn’t a good enough mother.
With #2, my worries were similar but his silent reflux added a whole other dimension - worry he wouldn’t get enough milk; worry he wouldn’t put on weight; worry he wasn’t constantly in pain & discomfort.
Having reflected on some tough & dark times with #1, hubby and I were much more aware & able to discuss our mental health 2nd time round. Our new openness and his support meant I felt able to go to the GP & ask for help.
I was diagnosed with anxiety & put on a low dose of antidepressants. Being on the mild end of the spectrum I was not “ill enough” for tailored 1:1 support, but offered a group CBT course for GAD. I felt frustrated by the content not relating to the challenges I was facing as a mum. But it was the very start of my intro to mindfulness & taking care of my mind.
My biggest regret is not reaching out for help with my first & not having the knowledge & tools I have now to navigate some of the big feels of motherhood.
My journey with self-care transformed my motherhood journey and that’s why I created the Nourish app to support other mums like me.