Who Am I?

I have wanted to write this post for some time, but the mixture of baby brain, complete tiredness and no free time have meant it’s fallen by the wayside, until now.

So, today my little miracle girl is 9 months old. I can’t believe it. It’s been a complete whirlwind. Every day is filled with laughter, cuddles and new experiences, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. It hasn’t been easy though. For the first 6 weeks I was constantly anxious. I was convinced she hated me and that everything I did was wrong. I couldn’t see passed the next bottle, let alone the next week or month. But, I got there, slowly, but eventually.

I now love every day we have together. I still don’t really know what I’m doing, but that self-doubt, endless worry and feeling of hopelessness have subsided. What’s left however, is a real lack of identity. It feels as though everything in my life has changed, and most definitely for the better, but I can’t remember what I was like before my daughter arrived. I was still anxious and full of negative comments about myself, but I knew what I was doing. My routine is so different to when I was working, which isn’t a bad thing, yet I feel as though I’m in a kind of no man’s land. I can go from loving life to dreading the future in minutes. I have no filter anymore. If someone pisses me off I’m much more likely to tell them. I don’t have time for pretending, or worrying what other people think, and yet at the same time I dread people thinking badly of me. I’m a walking contradiction.

One of my biggest issues is the way I look, always has been. I have no confidence, and seem to base a lot of my self-worth on body image. I have no idea when, how or why this started, but it’s deep rooted and really does impact on me every day. I then get so angry at myself for thinking like that. I mean I have qualifications, I have a good job, I think I’m pretty funny, I’m extremely loyal and protective of my friends, and I care, about everything, except myself. I can’t even say it’s a ‘Mum thing’ as I’ve always been like this. I know lots of people have similar issues, and I’m not writing this for sympathy. I am just much more aware of my lack of self-worth and I am desperate to fix it.

Becoming a Mum has made me a stronger person in a lot of ways, and I think even more resolute, and yet if someone paid me a compliment I would be so uncomfortable that I would want to run away. Sarcasm is my defense mechanism. Ironically I’m often told I come across as confident, but I know that is because I deliberately put myself in situations I am comfortable with. If I was out of my comfort zone I doubt those who know me would recognize me.

So, is this ‘just’ a new Mum thing, or is it more than that?

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I Forgot

How could I?

The realisation hit me last night, and I feel floored. Our little angel would have been 2 this week, and I forgot. There is no excuse.

Losing that baby was the worst thing to ever happen to me, to us. We were broken for so long. Then in July of last year our miracle rainbow girl came along and saved us. But until this week I’ve never forgotten about our angel. I feel horrible realising what I’ve done. If it was someone else saying this I’d be telling them to not to be so hard on themselves, but this is me, queen of being too hard on myself.

So, I’ve had major anxiety since I realised. My stomach is in knots, that awful unsettled feeling that won’t go away. I couldn’t sleep last night. My mind was working on overdrive, so today I feel like utter shit. I feel sick. Not like normal nausea, but that guilt ridden, anxiety sickness that hasn’t been around in quite some time.

I could quite easily sit and stare into space, as long as I don’t have to do anything or move. I have no energy. I’ve gone from 100 to 0. I’m sure this is just a blip but god it’s horrid.

Hoping tomorrow is a more positive, and less anxious day.

Self care as a new Mum

Before my beautiful little rainbow girl arrived at the end of July, I took a lot of little things for granted. For instance:

  • A hot shower. I know, mad right! But OMG it is hard to find the time, plus the Mum guilt! I cannot even begin to tell you how bad that is! If I leave her for even five minutes I feel bad, but she’s either with her Daddy or her Grandma, so why do I worry?! Anyway, back to the list.
  • Manicures! Oh I miss my lovely, sparkly nails. They have been replaced by chewed stumps. I’m not over exaggerating. They’re a mess!
  • A lie in. OK, I knew that one would go, and I hadn’t had a proper night’s sleep in months, due to feeling like a beached whale, but the sleep deprivation is probably the hardest one to get used to.
  • A hot drink. Once that beautiful bundle is in your arms, you don’t want to put them down, so if someone does make you a hot drink then chances are it will be lukewarm at best by the time you get around to drinking it.

The above might seem trivial, but the message behind it isn’t. Becoming a parent is the best thing that’s ever happened to me, but it’s also the hardest. I wouldn’t change it for anything, but I have realised the importance of looking after yourself. It is far too easy to keep pushing yourself to keep going and going, but that’s only going to end one way, badly. You have to give yourself a break, even if it’s just ten minutes to have that hot shower. You will feel so much better afterwards.

I think one of the best things you can do for yourself is talk to someone if you’re struggling. I have a few friends who had babies around the same time, and being able to tell them all of my neurotic worries always helps as they’ve usually had the same ones. I still have lots of freak outs about whether I’m doing things right, but when I manage to think logically for more than ten seconds I realise I am.

At times it can feel incredibly lonely as a new parent, but there is such a huge network of people out there willing to listen and help, including me, so remember you are NOT alone, and you CAN do this.

 

 

Semicolon Slippery Pig

Great title, right?

As you may know if you’ve read any of my posts over the last week or so, I have had a bit of a major flare up with my anxiety and have struggled quite a lot. At the moment I feel OK, but I never take that for granted as unfortunately my anxiety can strike whenever it feels like it.

I saw my therapist yesterday and had a really random, but good chat about things. I told him I feel as though I’m on pause, like I’m waiting for something to happen. I don’t know what or why, but I’ve felt like that for a while now. He was talking about different stages in life and how they can relate to meaningful periods. For instance, 50 is often considered as mid life and people can make rather big decisions about their life as there is still plenty of time to make changes if they feel they are needed. At 80 it can be seen as though acceptance has been reached as it is rare for any big changes to be made at this point. I am apparently at the other phase, the ‘is this it’ time, but I know this isn’t it and there is plenty of time to find out what else life has to offer. We talked about it in terms of punctuation marks, so 80 can be seen as the full stop, 50 is the colon and 25 – 35 is the semicolon.

It was serendipity that he mentioned the semicolon as that is something I had been talking about the day before in relation to mental health, and my potential desire to have a tattoo. As the semicolon has become a worldwide symbol for mental health I was looking at incorporating it into something as a reminder that although anxiety can feel like the worst thing ever, it will pass. Also as a reminder that you can survive it. Just to say that I am the world’s biggest softie and HATE needles. I mean really hate them. I have no pain threshold whatsoever, but for some reason the idea of having a tattoo that holds a real meaning for me feels right. I also think the pain would help make me more aware of what I can tolerate. I don’t mean that to sound big headed or cheesy, it just feels right for me.

So, the slippery pig! Well, because there isn’t one specific trigger for my symptoms, my therapist called my anxiety a slippery pig that couldn’t be contained. Makes perfect sense when you look at it like that, right?

Don’t worry, my tattoo won’t be a semicolon on the back of a pig, promise!

 

Anxiety is definitely Physical

For the past week I’ve felt pretty dreadful: temperature, earache, stiff neck, shaky and tired. I put it down to being a virus as everyone catches them at some point. However, once the crappy feeling passed, the shakiness increased, my sleep pattern became really messed up and my concentration went the same way as my motivation, on a permanent holiday.

I haven’t really felt like me for so long that I’m not sure what’s real and what’s part of my well rehearsed act. I do know that over the last few days I’ve been overwhelmed by anxiety, and am exhausted from the physical symptoms that come with it. I have been shaking pretty much constantly for a week. It feels as though I am shaking internally as well as my hands shaking and legs feeling like jelly. My heart is racing to the point that I can hear the blood pumping in my ears. I’m tired, really tired, but can’t sleep as my mind is racing in conjunction with my heart.

I have been to see the doctor, one I haven’t seen before, and he was wonderful. He didn’t rush me. He let me fall apart without judging. He was straightforward and empathetic, exactly what I needed. As someone who is always happy to listen to others, I often forget how much talking to someone about how I feel helps me. I bottle it all up and keep going as I’m terrified that if I stop it will all come out and I won’t know how to deal with it. However, that then causes all of these awful physical symptoms I’ve been experiencing. For someone who has been dealing with anxiety for years I can be a right dumbass sometimes! 

Right now I feel calm. Yes, I have a raging headache. Yes, my neck and shoulders are so tight that it hurts to move. Yes, I feel like I could sleep for a week. But, the shakiness is subsiding, and the overwhelming urge to run away is lessening, and that is such a bonus that I’ll take that as a mini win. For now I won’t worry (as much) about tomorrow, I won’t even worry about whether I’ll sleep tonight. I’ll just concentrate on breathing and being grateful for what I have.