Mummyhood, Mental Health & Me | Just Add Ginger

Becoming a mother for the first time was a massive rollercoaster for me. Not only was it daunting, exhilarating and exciting beyond measure, but it really took its toll on my mental health and led me to  experience one of the darkest times in my life so far.

I have always been a bit of a worrier but in the first few months of Eric's life I felt like I was going crazy with it. Consumed daily by anxious thoughts, compulsive behaviour and feeling completely out of control, every day was overrun by negativity at a time when I should have been elated. It was a long and bumpy road to recovery but I finally turned a corner in the Autumn of 2017 - right around the time Eric was six months old. (If you want to know the full story I made a YouTube video all about it which goes into a lot more detail).

And since then I've only been getting stronger. I am more open about my feelings (not looking for sympathy, but more so that I'm doing myself justice), I am able to stay calmer and more rational thanks to techniques I learnt at CBT, and I feel for the first time in a long time that I am myself again.

stock image of a woman holding a newborn baby's hand

However, it's not always great. Especially at the moment. Up until a week or so ago I was doing brilliantly, but my worries and anxieties don't care about timing, and at the moment I've been having more fretful moments

I've had such a different, more positive experience of being pregnant this time but it is really starting to take its toll on me physically and that in itself is affecting how I feel mentally. Lack of sleep combined with long days, a toddler who is currently residing right in the middle of Tantrumville, aches and pains, Braxton Hicks and massive mood swings and I'm just all over the place. 

I know part of it is something that just happens during pregnancy. With hormones raging it's only natural I feel a bit out of control of how I feel. But it's not just that. 

This time of year is a massive trigger for me in itself. This is when everything started for me the first time and I think I associate warmer weather too much with the start of my descent into that dark place. So as much as it's amazing to be expecting a baby it is also really, really difficult. 

I am having to be so careful with how I go about my day. I don't want to do anything that will cause me to slip. And that's hard because a lot of my coping strategies revolve around avoidance and with social media being pretty much inescapable and uncontrollable that isn't always easy. 

 My worries are completely irrational too. They spring up out of something I usually see online and then just stick. For example (and I cannot believe I'm admitting this in a blog post) the other day I decided I had Lyme disease. For no reason. I just decided I had it. That's how unpredictable and somewhat ridiculous my mind can be. These thoughts appear and just make no sense although to be, they are the absolute be all and end all. 

And naturally when I start to feel anxious trying to not be upset in front of Eric is incredibly difficult. Because he is just too young to understand. But it happens. I just can't control it. I cry and cry and cry and he has to see it happen. Thankfully he's pretty laid back so he hasn't gotten upset at the same time but still...it does make me feel like a bit of a Mum failure.  

I'm doing all I can to prepare for labour and birth so that I am calm and relaxed. With control being a big factor in the direction of my thoughts if there's something I can organise I will. I'm planning a home birth, have been practising hypnobirthing and have called on lots of local friends to be on my 'Labour Tree' should I be by myself and need help. I'm also hoping to start going to a pregnancy relaxation class. 

And whereas I isolated myself when I was feeling so bad last time I'm now reaching out. I've admitted to myself that I have been struggling and am trying my best to surround myself with love. I'm getting in touch with friends and trying to arrange regular catch ups so that I don't feel alone. Getting back into creating content has also really helped because my mind is occupied and I am less inclined to let the negative thoughts work their way in.

But as much as I'm trying to be social I am also valuing my privacy. I'm not sharing lots about my pregnancy online and am even being quite reserved when it comes to friends and family. My midwife appointments are for me only and I keep it that way. If there are any issues I will tell people but otherwise it's my business and mine alone. Bump shots are kept to a minimum as are scan photos and videos. I'm just not putting that pressure on myself this time. I'm enjoying this journey for exactly what it should be...mine.

So that's where I'm up to at the moment. A lot of days are wonderful but some days are utterly shit and everything gets too much. But that's okay. It's only natural. And I'm embracing that fact. 

I can't imagine being a mum of two and just knowing how it's going to work is daunting in itself. I can't plan for it. I'm not in control. So it's no wonder these feelings are filtering back in - I may just be misplacing those feelings of anxiety over this big life change and putting them on something else

I don't know how things are going to change in the next few months. Nobody can say. But I really do feel that I'm helping myself by opening up about my struggles so fingers crossed I've already set myself on a better path.

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