Thursday, 3 January 2013
This post has been rattling around my head for a while now but I've only just realised what it was I wanted to say. For most of my life (during challenging times anyway) I have found myself struggling between whether I should be being optimistic and reminding myself of positive things (or at least not giving in to the catastrophist inside) and being honest with myself and others about how I'm feeling. I think this struggle is what led to my breakdown in the summer. If i hadn't been trying soooo hard to look like I had everything together and admitted I was struggling maybe I wouldn't have had such a hard time.
I'm writing this post now because my google reader seems filled these days with other mothers admitting they're not finding motherhood as easy or at least straightforward as they expected. Rachel over at the little pip wrote about the dichotomy between expectation and reality and I think this, certainly for me is one of the hardest things to come to terms with.
We've all seen the films about sleep deprived parents, we know well the media created image of new mothers. But through the haze of no social life and sleepless nights, parents are supposed to be the happiest they've ever been, rejoicing in their new roles. How awful it is if you don't. Especially if you find yourself longing for your old life at times.
I know many women take to motherhood with relatively little problem. They just seem to adjust well to the changes and for whatever reason either personal or where they are in their lives they seem to get on with things happily. But there's also (if my google reader is anything to go by) a lot of women out there not necessarily with PND who struggle and who feel bad that they struggle.
I've spent the past 6 months trying to work through my issues. Some are directly related to my new life as a mum, others are issues from my past brought to life by the 180 my life has done since Amelie came along. It's a journey of self discovery, one I certainly don't have the answers to, but I do know this, and I hope you can take some comfort from it if you're struggling:
Don't feel bad about feeling bad, that's what makes you feel so crappy.
In other words, it's not the fact you struggle with motherhood sometimes that makes you feel bad, it's the fact you feel like you should be happy. We're not supposed to be in a perpetual state of happiness all the time but if we can learn to let ourselves feel less that wonderful some of the time without feeling guilty a lot of us would be okay. I'm not saying those with serious depression should just buck up but sometimes we can prevent ourselves sliding down that slippery slope with a little reminder.
When I was struggling badly I tried far too hard to cover it up. I almost couldn't believe I was struggling. These were not feelings I was supposed to have, people were relying on me. Stiff upper lip and get on with it. I can't help but feel that if I had said to myself or talked to someone about the guilt I felt at not being perfect I would have let myself off the hook and everything would have been okay. And that's where I get to my point (finally).
Let yourself off the hook. Give up trying to be perfect. Recognise that it's the fact you feel guilty for feeling low when there's so many reasons to be happy, grateful etc makes things worse. Stop being so damn hard on yourself.
I don't care if this sounds sexist or gender biased. Women are so damn hard on themselves and each other. We're all so judgemental and it's so ingrained we don't even know we're doing it.
Stop trying to be the perfect you. Give up the ghost. You'll never get there because there doesn't exist.
Instead practice being kind. To yourself. Give yourself a break, you are wonderful just the way you are.
I have read so many blog posts in the past few days from all sorts of bloggers regarding their resolutions. So much so it got me thinking what someone from the future might think. Why are these people still trying to be something or someone they're not? Why don't they accept themselves for who they are? Why are they trying to be more this or less that?
I'm not saying people shouldn't strive for personal growth or to change aspects about their lives. The best change you can make to begin with is acceptance of who you are warts and all. The hardest resolution to keep maybe but the best if you can work towards it.
Motherhood is hard at times for everyone. Personal circumstances aside what makes it harder for some is the pressure they feel and put on themselves and then the guilt. I'm so lucky my baby is easy, some people have 3 children under 3 I only have one, how would I cope as a single mum? Don't worry about these thoughts and don't worry that you feel bad sometimes. Just accept it. It makes it so much easier to deal with.
Happy New Year mamas. Whoever you are and whatever you do, you are enough. Make 2013 the year you believe it.
*I'm writing this with PMT and am somewhat emotional. Apologies also if it sounds preachy. I have been self teaching CBT skills to myself and some of it is so simple and good I wanted to share the sentiments.*