- Realistic views of motherhood.
I cannot do it all, i cannot be good at everything. I am not super-woman, nor super-mum. If i was, my cape would be a dish-towel, i’d keep spanx companies in business (’cause y’know, no lycra is going on me without some control & help!) and my nemesis would be the last baby wipe in every packet. For it’s with that, an inhumane shite is produced by your wriggling offspring, who, of course, giggles whilst showering you with pee. My superhero catchphrase would be: Nooooo! And always is an exaggerated facial expression. Slow-mo too, duh!.
Too much info? Whatever. If you’re a mother, you’ve been pissed on. Fact.
- Self belief.
Threw a bunch of horrendous bubble days at me? Yeah, i batted that shit right out the park. Come at me bruv.
I’m impulsive at the best of times, but the best impulsive decision i made was to sign up for the 100km Sahara Desert Trek. It started as a solo mission of craziness, it led to plans for friends to join, it’s ended as the sole focus for me to signify a hopeful end to postnatal depression & anxiety. I was scared of everything. Planning the trek was terrifying. Yet i was booked in, locked in, and began raising cash for the brilliant charity PANDAS. I’m still doing that now, as you know, but i have no fear. I’m excited. There’s a huge dune at the end of the journey, i’ll be crying like a little bitch on that sand hill, i promise you. It means more than a simple ‘completed trek’, it means more than helping a charity close to my heart raise funds to help as many people as possible. It means i can look back on the time i decided to do it and realise just how far i’ve come.
What makes it better, is that fellow PANDAS ladies signed up too. It opened the door to meet and have wonderful people in my life, who know all about ‘the PND experience’.
- A new tolerance and understanding for the different hardships people can, and do, go through.
I thought i had a consideration for things before. Well not as much now. Broke one of the nail’s you’ve just had done at the beauticians? You poor cow. Let me pour you a tequila.
To that person they could feel like they’re drowning, like they’re alone, even when it appears otherwise. Who are we to decide what should emotionally hurt or not?
- The ability to see every day as a new one.
I said, ‘awk, tomorrow is a new day,’ a lot before i became ill. But in all honesty i never truly believed in the medicine-like effect it really could have, if you just let go of yesterday. Bad day? You’ll never re-live that date again in your life. Fuck it.
- Intolerance for morale leeches. That being selfish sometimes is the only way to survive.
People with issues are normal. People wanting to hurt you, is not. I walk away and stay away. The nonsense no longer keeps me awake. In fact, i sleep easier knowing i’ll worry less the next day. I spread my emotions easier, to cover the things that need to be covered in order to survive and have a somewhat healthy mind, and not to cover the things that will ultimately destroy my self belief, self esteem and self worth. I try to no longer let things fester and recognise my actual thoughts, to my unwell ones. Because when i did let things fester, it impacted my reactions of other things throughout that day/ week/ month, leading to more bubble days.
- Patience. With everything. With myself.
Yup, that’s right, yoga is now in my life. I’m a football person, a rough and tumble person, so honestly i felt a bit silly doing stretch-type moves on my living room floor late at night. But even though i constantly looked up to see if i was doing it right (i probably wasn’t) and i realised i’m as flexible as a rusty tin-man, i did end up feeling so relaxed.
- A deep, deep, love and appreciation for my husband.
I’ll be honest here, i used to be overly independent, but a nag when he wasn’t ‘there for me’. How could he be when i had the ‘i’ve got it handled’ attitude. I finally lost control, realised i couldn’t help myself and basically fell flat on my ass. He picked me up, dusted me down and made me laugh. Being on the sidelines whilst someone close to you has a mental illness is perhaps the most demanding and helpless gig you’ll ever attend. I loved him before. I worship him now.
- To award my strength.
Dunx went away in the midst of my PND journey and every single day was a struggle. I clock watched, urging nighttime to come faster, for peace, for sleep, for his return. But i didn’t get peace, as i’d worry about the next day, and i didn’t sleep much because i didn’t want to let go of the time i had to be alone. I worried every second that something would happen to my baby boys, and i didn’t have Dunx there to help me keep them safe. If something happened, they’d blame me, right? Because i have a mental illness? I also worried if i would turn, and not care at all.
They were safe. Because i was strong. I needed to recognise my inner strength and i needed to recognise that admitting i could do just fine, was okay. My coping mechanism came out in bizarre ways, granted, but i can tell you a handful of ways i was prepared for bad situations and where weapons of the household kind were located, that could kick a burglar’s ass. I remember it all, including a number of escape routes in case of a fire. The difference now is, i don’t obsess about them. They’re in the back of my mind. And i hope they never come to use.
Dunx is away just now, and has been a while -we are all just fine.
- My eldest has grown, not just in height.
I feared i’d squash the carefree child in him. It was another constant worry. But i see now that i didn’t hold him back. I could have, if i’d have carried on not letting him out to play, for example. Now, all the things i’d worried about installing in his very clever mind, is in there and put to good use. He checks back consistently when playing out. He immediately moves to walk on the inside of the pavement when by a road, and holds the pram without my asking whilst crossing one. Now i’ve stepped back from firing anxious demands of him, he’s naturally begun taking his safety seriously. I’ve stepped back and trusted.
- To Let it go. Let it goooooooo.
I can’t spread myself thin and try to help everybody. The minute i was diagnosed, i said i wanted to help people going through what i was going through.What if they’re all alone? What if they don’t even know why they’re suffering. What if one more person kills themselves because they think it’s for the greater good, or they see no other way out? The fear for strangers kept me awake at night. I wanted to shout from the rooftops about the illnesses surrounding pregnancy. I still do. It still hurts my heart that people out there are feeling how you feel in the grasp of Pre or Post ND. But. You cannot help someone else if you can’t help yourself. I had to let it go until i found my own way out of the mess, to ensure my boys had their mum back. Once i’m 100% confident i won’t relapse into shithood, then, and only then, will i dedicate time to helping others. Until then, i’ll write a reply of encouragement. I’ll listen when an ear’s needed. But it won’t dominate my life, ways to be better will.
- Empathy for mother’s. All mother’s! Not just those with PND. This is a big one.
-You appear to have it altogether. I empathise for you in the quiet moments when you admit that you don’t and you’re afraid.
-You try to settle a screaming baby in public, knowing that people are staring, judging. Exactly how old are you? Surely a teen mum? A baby-making machine for benefits? Unable to cope? A total novice, a joke. Are all the paranoid thoughts like those even real? I empathise with the emotions you’re fighting as you catch the eye of a nosy fucker staring in disgust, or in hearing muttered opinions. I know you want to either flip them the bird, or you want to hang a large label around your neck stating, ‘babies cry! It’s natural honest, i’m not doing anything wrong! How else are they going to communicate their needs, fucking bark?’ It may be all in your head. It may only rarely happen. But it does happen. And what makes it worse, is that it’s mother’s that do this to mother’s.
Avoid eye contact! Smile and nod your awareness of the pain-in-the-arse situation, or buy her a bottle of wine. But for goodness sake, don’t judge a fellow mother. There are enough judgement and opinions on the shoulders’ of mother’s by those who haven’t even given birth to a demanding creature sucking the very life out of them. Don’t be one of them. And if you are, you better be putting the Brady Bunch to shame with your know-how.
-I empathise with how tired you are. You look like shit on the school run whilst glam mums parade into the school grounds staring as though you just fell off the tramp wagon. You must be a rough person, right? You’re clearly a crap mum, poor, struggling, right? You’re not thinking of every last possible danger to your child -or- smiling like a fake chesure cat, overly stating love for them, when inside you really couldn’t give a shit, the illness has you and won’t let go. Or the illness doesn’t exist for you and you’re simply a knackered mother!
- I empathise with your worries of being judged. After all, it all begins during pregnancy when the mere utter of choosing to bottle feed, over breastfeeding, means you get a look close to what shitting on someone’s Christmas Tree would urge. I sympathise that you aren’t sure if all these paranoid worries are factual, or part of brain battling with the chemicals that have gone to pot. I also empathise with your attitude not to give a fuck about your hair, makeup or even jeans that fit. You simply want to get yourself and your children out of the door before you change your mind and bombard you all inside. I empathise with your silent screams of frustration.
The PANDAS motto, which suits everyone in life, i think. It is okay not to be okay. So fucking what if you’re not on form today or tomorrow, or you weren’t a couple of days ago. You’re human. And when you are okay, when your day is good, i bet your smile not only illuminates your soul, but the very beings that are your life: your children.
And of course, whilst I've got you here ;-) PLEASE sponsor me to trek 100km through the Sahara desert. As I mentioned before, this is a big deal. And while you or I can't help everyone we meet, PANDAS can, with the right resources that donations provide. Be happy & keep your chin high xxxx