Written December 2019….
I’m a worrier by nature. I sweat the small stuff. This was pre baby. Post natal anxiety heightens everything. The small stuff becomes the big stuff and the big stuff becomes all consuming. An outsider may think you’re a drama queen, attention seeking, when in reality you’re in a room with no air struggling to breath and it’s getting smaller and smaller, closing in, squishing you like an insignificant fly underfoot.
Pre baby I may have had some minor anxieties – certain social situations, how I came across to others, certain workplace situations. Big stuff at the time, small stuff in hindsight. Post baby my anxieties encompass me, my baby and everyone around me. My daughter is the centre of my universe and I would do anything for her, above all she is my number one priority but to the point that I don’t prioritise myself. I currently have no life outside of the all consuming question of when and how long will she sleep for. I dread each and every bedtime because I don’t know how long I will get to myself before she wakes. How long she does sleep seems to be a measure of how successful you are as a mum in some people’s minds.
In the Instagram world that we live in there is so much pressure to be happy and exude happiness when in reality no one is happy 24/7. On the flip side of this there is also the #itsoktonotbeok phenomenon which is positive in one way because it’s getting people talking about their mental health but it’s also becoming ‘fashionable’ to post ‘current mood’ posts on feeling anxious, down, overwhelmed for attention. Posting about logging off social media for a much needed mental health break only to be posting your outfit of the day a few hours later. To me that just makes people like me who don’t crave attention or ‘likes’ to be less inclined to speak up or seek help.
I’ve worked out unfortunately that my anxiety triggers are my immediate family so there’s no getting away from it anytime soon. I’ve been trying coping mechanisms and breathing but sometimes it all builds up over time and you have that irrational meltdown that makes you seem so stupid to the outsider looking in. I’m learning to let well meaning comments go over my head but sometimes words cut you to the bone and make you feel like you’re not good enough for the daughter you’re trying to raise.
Comments/actions such as:
‘It’s a pity she won’t take a dummy she would sleep better if she did.’ Thank you for your comment but I made a parenting decision not to give my daughter a dummy so criticising this is basically criticising me as a parent which makes me feel like that insignificant fly on your shoe.
‘She wont sleep for you, I’ll take her.’ This makes me feel like as a mum I cannot meet a very basic need of my child. I can’t get her to sleep. When others boast that THEY can and give me step by step instructions on how THEY got her to sleep, I feel like the room is closing in on me.
‘Are you coming to the party tomorrow, everyone will want to see The baby?’ Not me then? I don’t have some overwhelming desire to be center of attention at the party but I’d like people to want to see me. When you have a baby not everyone asks after your interests anymore. If this is pointed out to them they will ask ‘how are you?’ At the start of a visit, half listening to you to tick a box that they have satisfied you and your ‘attention seeking’ as they see it to then turn their attention to the main event- the baby.
‘When you get upset she can sense that and it’s not ok.’ I’d rather have my daughter see her mummy upset, to know that life is hard and trying at times and it’s ok to be sad sometimes but to talk it over. Not to turn out like me where I’ve been told to hide everything.
‘Now don’t shout…’ words that have been said to me when I ask people to follow a parenting decision I have made but who then disregard that decision and make their own rules. The blame is put back to me because obviously as the mummy I don’t know what’s best And the surrounding family know better. So I’m told to bottle up everything I may be feeling, hide all the anxieties I’ve tried to talk about since once again my mental health comes second.
Christmas. The one day a year society paints as the happiest day. You HAVE to be happy it’s the rules. So you try to switch off your anxiety for a day. Everyone just got a bit overexcited at Christmas. But to the point where our little families excitement came second. We specifically asked people to buy 1/2 gifts as a. She doesn’t know any different and b. Everyone helps us out throughout the year buying little things and we appreciate that more. Cut to gift exchanging day and my daughter received 22 parcels and three cards of money. All very generous and well meaning but to the outsider I will just sound unappreciative and ungrateful. This is when my anxiety started because I felt that Christmas had been robbed of me. We had only got our daughter four small gifts and I don’t want her to learn that ‘Santa’ doesn’t matter because she will just ask the rest of the family and get spoilt. When I spoke to my own parents about how it made me feel, once again my mental health was cast aside – dad rolled his eyes and stormed out and mum turned it round and said ‘how do you think I feel, I only got her two things because I listened to you!’ I’ve tried so hard to please everyone that wants a piece of my daughter at Christmas and while I am so grateful for her gifts the most fun I had on Christmas Day was on Christmas morning when it was just my little family of three.
If everyone around my daughter knows better, spoils her, buys her over and above what she needs, where is there room for me, her mummy. I feel like I’m being edged out. I know all of my thoughts are silly and irrational and not true but when you have a really hard, anxious day they become the all consuming and result in panic attacks. I fear this is just what I have to accept now. People won’t listen so I’ve to learn to bottle it up.
While I realise this is been a negative blog, I take relief in the fact that whatever people do (or don’t do) they can’t take away the experiences I am giving my daughter. She’s so clever not because of what I’ve bought her or dressed her in; but because of how well I’ve taught her. We are not a materialistic family, we are a making memories family. Xx