So this week is a little different because I have a great guest post by Emily of EmInRealLife blog to show you.
She talks about handling depression as a mum and it really is an in-depth and interesting look at life as a single mum suffering with depression.
She offers advice for dealing with depression as a mum and talks about how to get help. So take it away Emily:
About a year and a half ago I hit a real low point. I was juggling a highly demanding full time job with single parent life and it caught up with me. I felt like I had to work like I wasn’t a Mum and like I had to parent like I wasn’t working full time. I tend to be all or nothing so feeling like I was doing both of the main roles in my life half as well as I should have been meant I put a lot of pressure on myself.
Rewind 8 months before that and I had separated from my Husband, moved my 18 month old Daughter and I 500 miles back to Milton Keynes from Scotland and we were living in my friend’s spare room. Those 8 months were full of stress about money and finding a place to live, divorce proceedings and animosity with my ex. I had powered through and it was like once the storm had calmed I could finally address me. In doing so my depression and anxiety caught up with me, or I finally admitted it, and I knew I had to do something.
It was incredibly hard admitting my depression as a Mum, I felt like a huge let down and like Alice deserved better. When I looked around I could see the life I had built for us, we were in a lovely home, fed and had all the love we could need but my depression meant I couldn’t focus on that. I remember the moment I had at work when I just couldn’t do it anymore, it felt like too big of a hill to climb and I couldn’t be bothered. This for me was the moment I knew I had to get some help.
I saw a Dr who diagnosed me with depression and anxiety and gave me a prescription and some time off. The medication was horrible at first and I struggled with the side effects but I stuck with it. I made sure I used that time to research what it meant and look at what I could change to help myself feel better.
With a clear head I was able to make better decisions for Alice and I, not because of how I felt society would see me. I was struggling with allowing myself to work less, I put huge pressure on myself to prove that I could kick single Mum life’s ass by working as much as I could so we could be independent. All I ended up doing was burning myself out and feeling miserable that I had no quality time with Alice.
I spoke to a counsellor who was very practical, I didn’t want to sit on a sofa for an hour with someone who wouldn’t commit to saying much, and being very solution focussed she helped me get over some of my own thoughts and work out what was best for me. I decided I would look for part time work that would allow me a better balance and more time to look after myself and my wellbeing.
I’m so guilty of putting myself under huge pressure to get it right all the time and although I’ve learnt to give myself more of a break I’m still working on it. Here are some other things I’ve learnt and I hope will help you if you’re a Mum and have depression and anxiety:
Try not to put yourself under too much pressure
Look around you, is your child loved? Are they happy? If the answers are yes then you’re doing a great job Mama. Don’t try to get all the things right 100% of the time, some things can wait. I’m still working on this one but when you give yourself permission not to be Superwoman it is a big help.
Focus on what is right for you and your family
We all know what opinions are like, everyone’s got one, it doesn’t mean they know what is best for you and your kids though, only you do. So allow yourself to roll with it and stick your finger up at anyone who disagrees.
Give yourself a break
Mama you are a warrior. We are the loving organisers, cheerleaders, feeders, comforters, providers, play mates, teachers and role models in our kids lives and frankly it’s ok to admit that’s a lot of pressure for one person. As Mum’s we’re guilty of putting ourselves at the bottom of the list but it’s so important you have time for yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
Ask for help
I’m going to say it, it takes a village to raise a child. Before moving back to England it was pretty much just my ex and I with no immediate family or close friends nearby. It wasn’t until I came home to where my network was that I realised how valuable this is for both you and your kids. So ask for help if you want it, you’ll feel better and they’ll love quality time with the little ones of the family.
It’s ok to not be ok
Coming to terms with my depression and anxiety as a Mum was a hard pill to swallow. I felt like a failure but I worked at not getting bogged down in these thoughts. Be positive about getting help and speak to friends. One of the best things I did was tell my friends, they weren’t shocked or disgusted as my anxiety would have me think, they were supportive and loving and you’ll be surprised how many other people have their own story to tell. You aren’t on your own Mama.
My depression and anxiety are something I’m still working on and probably always will be, but the difference is that now I have a better understanding of where it comes from and I have made changes in our lives that allow me to manage it better. If you’re managing depression and anxiety as a Mum I hope that some of what I have said is helpful and I would encourage you to speak to a professional if you haven’t already and stay positive about the process of getting help, it will only put you on a path to better things.
So thank you Emily for that wonderful article on depression when you’re a mother. Moral of the story I think is that if you’re struggling – no matter what your circumstances are, you should go get help and talk to someone, and, it’s ok not to be ok.
Thank you for reading.