Guest Post: Mumming it Up with Mental Health
We've all felt a bit emotionally unstable after having a baby but sometimes it's more than that. This week, Charlotte shares her story on the mental health challenges she faces...
So after I had Rhonan at 17, something just wasn't right. I had always struggled with my mental health growing up but no one ever flagged it up until it was too late.
I had never felt love quite like it, but on the same hand I've never cried so much in my life. That first night in hospital after having a section and I could barely look after myself, never mind this baby I had just been handed. I was alone, couldn't stand up and, to make it worse, alllll the mums were so much older than me and didn't say a word.
The next morning, we all went home and after 3 months I moved out into my first little home and BOOM, I could hide away and no one would know how I felt.
One year later, I met a new guy and oops - there came another baby! Jack, being Aspergic, noticed from the early days that I wasn't right and our relationship was an emotional rollercoaster. How dare he tell me that I'm not okay? 'I'm fine,' I told myself, but I had been telling myself this for too long and so had other people. But they didn't know what went on behind closed doors; of course they would think I was fine.
At this point I was exhausted with anti-depressants, counsellors and people trying to get me to open up. I would go for weeks feeling happy, full of energy, doing myself up, being head over heels in love with Jack and spending money and then suddenly, out of nowhere, I would wake up depressed, with greasy hair, make up being a big no-go, feeling nothing but tired, hiding in the house and not wanting to look at anyone, never mind have a conversation with them.
FINALLY after years of doctors appointments he said to me, "This could be bipolar." WHAT!? My heart sank but, in a way, it was also sort of a relief. After years of struggling and wondering why I couldn't be like other people, I finally had an answer.
With my bipolar and Jack's Asperger's, how are we going to manage that? Would we work? Are the kids going to be okay? So many questions that I can't answer but you know what...? We just have to live life day by day. It's hard but you're not alone - always remember that.
Being a mum with mental health sucks but being a mum is the best feeling in the world and little things help: going for a walk, forcing myself to put some make up on, eating healthily, keeping myself busy and watching the kids play. As much as I want to sit in bed and mope on a bad day, I can't; I have to suck it up and kick that anxiety in the face.
Just because you can't see mental health, like a broken leg, doesn't mean that people are not suffering and talking about it. It doesn't mean you're looking for sympathy. It's good to speak about your problems and sometimes it's a massive relief to get it all out in the open. The more we stick together and help each other the better.
I'll never be perfect or normal but that's okay. Our home is full of madness in all sorts of ways but I wouldn't change it for the world.
So here's to all of us strong mums and dads battling a daily struggle - we've got this!