It has been an age since I wrote anything and I’m a little annoyed at myself because as much as I don’t want to admit it it’s partly due to doubt that I haven’t written or posted anything. I don’t want to feel silenced about my experience of being a mum, I don’t want to feel that I should be quiet about how I felt because of what people might think.
I’m going to put it out there in black and white; I had what would be classed as a mental health problem. I had a mental health problem. I am recovering and living with a mental health problem and that is ok to be honest about. I know some people feel that because of my profession I should perhaps keep this a secret. It is not something I would drop into conversation at work particularly with patients because it would be completely unprofessional and inappropriate. I am aware however, that anything publicly posted on the internet has the potential to be read by anyone and that once I press ‘publish’ it is fair game for anyone.
I would like to think I have a fairly realistic view of the world. I am not overly pessimistic and think the whole world is going to hell but at the same time I do not think it is place purely filled with good. I feel there are lots of changes that could be made, too many changes for one person to tackle all at once so you pick the battles that have meaning to you. I am not out to try and change the world for everyone. I would love to think that I could change the world for individuals but I know this isn’t always possible for lots of reasons. Sometimes you can’t change things, but that doesn’t mean you should abandon your ideas, sometimes standing by them is enough.
I would be setting myself up to fail if I thought I could end mental health stigma, I might encounter disappointment if I try and change attitudes and don’t, but I don’t have to stand for it.
I have no shame in saying I suffered post natal depression and post natal PTSD. I have no shame in saying I’m still recovering. It makes no one a lesser parent (because dads can get this too ya know) because their mental health was impacted due to pregnancy or childbirth. It makes no one a lesser human being because sometimes their mental health suffers the same as their physical health does at different points in their life.
Parenting is so full of joy. But it is also filled full of fear, tears (yours and theirs) poop, sick, screaming, sleeplessness and sometimes sadness. It’s also accompanied to varying degrees by this sneaky bastard called Doubt. Doubt is so quiet you don’t even hear it come in and sit next to you; you think it’s your thoughts you’re but it’s that git next to you whispering.
Doubt needs a punch in the face.
It has been one of the biggest things to hold me back in speaking to others about how I was truly feeling. It is the thing that tells you that you are a much worse parent then your friends ever realise. It can really make you feel like no other parent is as bad as you no matter what they say.
Doubt will tell you that you shouldn’t be annoyed at having to feed your toddler yogurt as 2am because she hasn’t eaten all friggin day and now wants food. It tells you that you shouldn’t be muttering ‘for fuck sake’ under your breath because your small person has just tipped a bottle of water over themselves and require a change for the third time that day. It tells you that you should be enjoying every moment of being a parent and if you don’t you are a monster.
Getting to help a little person grow and find their way in the world is one of the most privileged positions to be in (in my opinion anyhoo) but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Doesn’t mean it is horrendous either. I don’t want to say that everyone’s experience of parenting is normal because that isn’t true; things are much more complicated than that. I would say that muttering ‘for fuck sake’, feeling irritated at your child and celebrating ‘you time’ does not make you a monster. It makes you human.
Now go punch Doubt in the face and eat some cake because you're doing great.