A huge part of Parenthood is learning to accept help. It’s not always easy to ask and often it’s not readily available. This weeks guest post comes from Norfolk based blogger and writer of mummashine.com Andrea.
Trigger warning: This article covers depression in motherhood.
I am the type of person who tries to avoid medication at all costs. Even if I have a blinding headache, I try to relieve it in natural ways before going for the paracetamol. I learned the hard way that depression wasn’t going to go away on its own as a headache would.
I knew I had anxiety, but I tried for years to avoid using the word depression. Scared that I would be judged. I always had the fear that if I admitted that I needed help it would mean me being a terrible mother. Women are supposed to be mums. So why was I struggling so much? Why did I always feel so horrible, like I was failing at my job? At one point I was so worried, I thought if I told anyone I was struggling they would take my children away from me.
I would just about get through my days, wishing the hours away. Counting down until bedtime when I could have my own space; Free from being a mum. I hate to admit it but on more than one occasion I refused to get out of bed and deal with them. leaving tom to everything because I couldn’t face the world.
It wasn’t until one day in summer, I couldn’t cope anymore, I cracked. We had been stuck inside the house all day. There was mess everywhere, the kids were fighting non-stop. I felt myself getting worse and worse, I hit rock bottom. My partner found me locked in the kitchen crying, hiding away from the children. I told him that I was struggling, that was the first time I admitted that this was more than anxiety. Luckily for me, I had lots of family members around to help me and show me that I was not a terrible parent. I was doing the best I could, but I needed to accept help.
I finally got the courage to see a doctor. I was a bit reserved at first, I kept thinking I can’t let him know how bad this is otherwise he will see I’m an awful mother. To my surprise he made me feel comfortable, so I was able to be completely honest about how I was feeling. He didn’t judge me; not even for one moment, even when I told him I sometimes hide away from the children and cry. All my fears that I had for years, about my children being snatched away due to my mental health, melted away. I felt such relief that I was able to ask someone to help me. I didn’t have to struggle alone anymore.
Having accepted my need for help, I now had a prescription for antidepressants. Even though it would help, I felt scared. I didn’t want people to think I was popping happy pills to cope with my own children. But, I swallowed my pride and started a course of antidepressants. They say it gets harder before it gets easier. I must admit I did doubt taking the medication for the first few weeks. I started feeling very numb, almost emotionless. I didn’t feel level-headed until a good month or so after taking them.
It has now been three months since I started, and I feel incredible. Learning to accept help has been a real game changer. I haven’t felt this happy in a very long time. I can enjoy time with my children without the constant low feelings and panic attacks. Even on days when I would have before cracked, I handle like a pro. Calmly and patiently. It does make me sad that I struggled alone for so long, out of the fear of judgement. I don’t think my depression will ever heal, it’s not like a magic pill that makes everything disappear. But I am looking forward to a better and brighter future. I am very content at this moment in time and am happy to say motherhood is now that little bit easier to handle. Asking for help doesn’t make you any less of a parent than anyone else. You don’t get awards at the end for making it through on your own. We are all on the same journey, so don’t keep mum, don’t struggle alone. Seek help to be a better you.