Being a blogger can be a little deceiving, but not in the way you might be thinking. As bloggers we all have this place where we can be ourselves; where we are able to write about issues that could be considered controversial, ramble or vent about anything we like. However in person being confident and outspoken aren’t things I like to do. I don’t want you to think that I am not real. I like to try and paint a picture of real motherhood, not of a ‘Pinterest mum’ who can whip up a batches of cookies and keep a clean and clutter free home all whilst looking after a bunch of toddlers. You know, the kind of mum who generally has their shit together. It might seem as though I’m a confident and an outgoing person, and I guess it’s easy to portray that behind the safety of a screen. The truth is I am far from this, and when it comes to meeting new people or going to new groups, I find it a bit of a struggle.
When I actually sit down and think about it I haven’t always been like this, especially when it comes to making friends. As a child I would always be the first one to say hello or ask if they wanted to come over, but as I got older things started to change. I soon became shy, timid, and nervous around new groups of people. I would always dread being asked questions in class. I remember most of the time not focusing on my work, and worrying too much about being asked something instead. Pretty much throughout my school life, college and even at university it was still a worry for me, and when I went into the world of work I would hate giving presentations or even speaking about daily targets in front of groups of people. I guess these overwhelming feelings have always been there. When I met my husband he gave me so much more confidence to be myself, and he helped me to realise that I was always enough. Once we had moved in together and got married those overwhelming feelings of self-doubt and not being good enough came flooding back. It was hard to escape.
I can remember having unrealistic worries about everyday things. I always thought that this was just a part of my personality. I would always try and focus on all the positive things in my life, like my marriage and trying for a baby. However it wasn’t as plain sailing as I thought it would be. It was such a tough time for both my husband and I, and we couldn’t escape those feelings. Some nights I would sit looking at yet another negative pregnancy test, and feel completely heartbroken. I would cry for me, cry for my husband, and cry for what we could never have. I decided that I would never be enough for him. Those feelings came so easily to me, and they were so hard to escape. We decided to stop trying, and instead to just focus on getting back to the couple we once were. The couple that only had one dream in mind. It was then we began on focusing on friends and family, and making fresh new plans for our life together. Fast forward to sitting on my bathroom floor crying, finally looking at the longed for positive pregnancy test. Our dream for a baby had finally become a reality. Despite all the great things that were about to come our way those anxious feelings were beginning to rear their ugly head again. It was just so hard to shake them off.
From the moment I discovered I was pregnant I was overwhelmed with worry. I would worry about being pregnant, thinking about the baby and whether my body would provide everything it should to keep my baby healthy. Self-doubt came with the feelings of worries. I shared my concerns with my midwife and she assured me that it was completely understandable and normal during pregnancy, which eased my feelings a little. When I think back to my pregnancy, you could say I had one of the idyllic ones.I felt so comfortable and so beautiful in my own skin for the first time in my life, and I was full of confidence and self worth. I began to feel as if I was getting back to the person I once was. My pregnancy wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows – there were hard parts, like with any pregnancy. I had morning sickness, sciatic pain, frequent heartburn and the most ugly swollen feet towards the end of the pregnancy. Despite this I still saw it as idyllic, and during this time I really tried to focus on all of the positive aspects of my pregnancy. But that niggling feeling was always there. Soon enough I was going to be responsible for the little baby that was growing inside me, she was going to depend on me like no one has before, yet I had no experience, no idea how to look after someone so small, how am I going to do this?
I had my daughter naturally with no complications, and I was home with my new family within days. Family and friends flocked round to see our beautiful little lady and this time in our lives was perfect, we couldn’t have been happier.
Once everything settled I started to feel differently. My anxiety seemed to have kicked up a notch. I would constantly worry about my husband and my daughter. All I would do was worry; bombarding my husband with message after message asking him if he’d arrived at work safely, constantly checking my daughter’s breathing, her temperature, asking myself lots of questions about her sleep, her feeds, how I even dressed her. Even now that she’s three years old I will still make my way into her bedroom and put my hand on her chest, just to be sure. My life soon became full of what-ifs and worse case scenarios, and it started to consume me and really impact on my life. It was too much. I would spend nights trying to relax and sleep, but I would usually end up laying there for hours listening my husband and daughter sleep. I would panic if I had to go out to get something, I couldn’t face meeting people for play dates, I would even get flustered going to a family functions.
I can remember the exact moment that my husband realised something was wrong. We were getting ready to go to a local community centre to try and get signed off from the health visiting team, my daughter was around six weeks old. We were running late and my daughter was crying hysterically because she wanted a feed and I had gone into the kitchen to make her a bottle. As I was feeding her my husband came over and said that I was holding the bottle the wrong way around, the valve was on the bottom. I burst into tears. I knew that he wasn’t trying to cause any upset but I just couldn’t hide my feelings in anymore. I wanted some help. At the appointment when it came to talking about it, it was too much for me and I just wanted to shrug those feelings off again. In the end, my husband stepped in to tell them how I was feeling, and even though it was something that I had been struggling with for some time they said it was to do with the baby. I knew it was more than just that, but I felt a sense of relief, finally someone knew.
Anxiety is such a complicated thing and everyone experiences the symptoms differently. For every one person suffering from the condition, there is another person who doesn’t understand it at all. I have had to accept that anxiety is a part of me. I have learnt that I need to focus on cherishing every single moment of being a mother and a wife. Over the last few years there have been so many ups and down. I have gone through times where my anxiety hasn’t got the best of me and I’ve felt in control, and experienced plenty of days when it has all come crashing down and I feel as if I’ve made no progress. My anxiety isn’t something that can be resolved with a click of a finger, I have to push myself to move forward, and I have trust myself to know when something is just too much for me to handle. Ultimately anxiety is just one part of my life, and it’s something I’m learning to live with. I’m learning to carry on, I’m learning to cope, I’m learning to be happy.