When I became a mother my life simultaneously came crashing down and became more complete than ever before.
Just another contradiction of motherhood. You experience pain that runs right alongside the most addictive pleasure, you’re exhausted but with a whole new level of energy, you’re lonely yet want to be left alone for just. one. minute.
Becoming a parent is intense, confusing, scary, totally bloody horrendous, and the best thing ever. No matter how you do it; whether you’re thirty-three and married with a Labrador and a five-bedroom house in Surrey, or nineteen and about three ‘dates’ into a relationship that won’t last, working a shitty pub job and living back with your mum (I was the latter, for the record). People will tell you there’s a right way and a wrong way, but either way you can find it just as hard. It can be just as messy.
I suffered badly with postnatal depression. I’ve always struggled with my mental health, but up until then had scraped by with heavy self-medicating and denial. It wasn’t exactly the best solution, but I did gain a pretty strong tolerance for tequila, so, silver linings.
I didn’t admit to myself I had PND for a long time. I knew about it, it was just starting to be spoken about regularly in the media so it seemed like everywhere I looked people were talking about their experiences. But this didn’t mean I was able to recognise it in myself. I thought the way I felt was just me being a bit dramatic, I was just rubbish at being a mum, this is what happens when you get pregnant as a teenager, get on with it and stop fussing for god sake Mia… Any time I felt for a second that maybe it was something more serious I would shut that voice up. Nobody else has noticed anything, therefore it can’t be real.
From speaking to other women who have struggled with mental health, particularly during and post pregnancy, this is common. You want somebody else to notice. Need somebody else to notice. How can it be real if nobody else can see it? Because we’re bloody good at hiding it, that’s how. It’s amazing what a fresh face of make-up and a quick hoover around just before your partner gets home can do.
I wasn’t diagnosed until my daughter was nearly one. Because I didn’t want to be a failure. Because I was too scared that showing any form of weakness would mean every person who doubted my ability to parent so young would be right. Because denial feels so much easier.
But I reached new lows and I knew I had to do something. One day I debated sending my daughter to my mum’s and ending it. Because she would be better there, without me. These thoughts were extreme and too much and they scared me into realising this wasn’t just a part of being a mum and finding it hard. I was ill.
I had to get help, for me and for my daughter. So I spoke up, and since I started speaking up I haven’t been able to stop. My mental health is still something that I battle with on a daily basis, and for the most part I am at peace with the idea that I will continue to do so for the rest of my life.
Motherhood allowed me to keep fighting.
Motherhood forced me to keep fighting.
When I became a mother my life fell apart, in a way I could never have anticipated. But if it wasn’t for being a mother I wouldn’t have pulled through it like I did. When I became a mother I broke, but when I became a mother I was fixed.
Just another beautiful contradiction.
Read more from Mia on her blog Cigarettes and Calpol
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