by Cat Dodd, founder of doddl
Mental health discussions always resonate with me as I have faced some of my own struggles in the past. It’s very refreshing to see that people are more openly talking about this topic these days. It doesn’t feel it quite has the same level of taboo it did 10 years ago.
A new baby
Whenever I see posts with a mum welcoming her new baby into the world, I also wonder how her journey is going to pan out. It’s such a magical time those first hours with your new baby. But the following weeks, months and years can be a very different experience for each parent.
And add twins…
I struggled with my first baby in terms of tiredness, but I wouldn’t say that I felt particularly low. I was just shattered, and a lack of sleep can be a killer for most. But the twins were an entirely different experience for me and my mental health. Apparently, it takes 2 years for a woman’s body to fully recover after each pregnancy/birth. But at just 7 months after the birth of my 1st, I was pregnant with twins (the pregnancy was sort of planned, the twins’ bit definitely wasn’t!). I actually think it’s more the mind that needs time to recover, never mind the body.
Sleep deprived and feelings of guilt
I felt completely overwhelmed now that I was a mum of 3. It was relentless – the crying, the feeding, the changing and the sleepless nights. I was getting 1 hour of sleep a night in the early weeks. It’s really hard to maintain a good state of mind when you feel trapped in a painful existence. You start to compare yourself to other mums and think everyone else is probably breezing through, being the perfect parent and really enjoying motherhood. Then you look at yourself and wonder what went wrong. The guilt starts to eat away at you as your thoughts turn darker and darker and all you want is for it all to stop.
All too much
By this point I was struggling to make it back to any happy place. I saw the doctor and was given a form to fill out to assess depression and anxiety levels. (I scored very highly, although clearly not an achievement to be proud of). The doctor diagnosed me with post-natal depression and anxiety and suggested I take medication. I didn’t want medication – I just wanted help.
I started to wonder what it would be like if I were rich. If I could just pay someone to help me 24/7 then surely life would be that much easier? If I had an extra pair of hands to help keep everyone safe, I would no longer feel so overwhelmed or trapped. And maybe avoid a repeat of the time I went to the park and lost control, ending up with three toddlers running in different directions. One heading to a main road, one to a side road with a lorry reversing into it and one following a duck into the middle of the road…all were ok in the end but I totally lost my shit after that little episode).
I basically dreaded staying at home – with us all on top of each other, the kids squabbling and getting cabin fever. But I also dreaded going out because I didn’t feel I could keep everyone safe. I had lost all enjoyment in life – every day was simply about me just getting through the day. I was literally ticking off the hours until the husband was home from work.
Finding a way forward
But underneath this all, I knew I wanted to be happy. I didn’t need medication because that actually wasn’t going to take away the battles that I faced every day. What I needed was to just keep putting one foot in front of the other, getting the kids through each day in one piece. I knew eventually things would get easier as soon as I had an opportunity to have more help. For me this came when they were 2 because they could attend a playgroup.
I started to have some time to switch off, to recharge, to start to do some of the things I enjoyed doing for me. It’s not to say all my problems disappeared – far from it as we continued to experience various challenges. But it did become more manageable and over time enjoyable.
I still carry the scars from those early years with 3 kids and I think I always will. For any mums out there, who may be going through the same struggles (whether you have 1 kid or several), you are definitely not alone.
No matter how dark your thoughts become, you are definitely not alone. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and eventually it will get easier. You will get better, you will find the same enjoyment in life you once had and you will love being part of a family….. It just takes time to get there and you have to remember and believe that ultimately you want to be happy.
Get in touch
If you want to find out more about me, or you’re going through some of the similar struggles I was facing, if you want to reach out to someone that understands, please feel free to drop me a message any time. I have started to share my journey through my instagram page ‘anotherday_done’. (Because as you now know, for me, it was all about getting through another day!).
I must also mention, I was lucky to have amazing grandparents that although not local, did help where they could and probably without them, I may have drowned after all.
If you are struggling with your mental health and need help, please look at all the fantastic resources available from the Mental Health Foundation, with practical guides and tips as well as helplines.