I have been writing this blog post, since I basically had my son 3 years ago. It has taken me so long to write it because I just couldn’t find the words I wanted to say, and I also never felt completely confident to post it. Why I decided now was the right time,I really don’t know. I think seeing a few stories recently by other mums has inspired me to just finally post this!
Most people when they talk about becoming a mum and how it affected them mentally think about this overwhelming love, and a need to protect your baby that develops. They talk about being emotional and how you can feel scared and worry you don’t know what you are doing. Whilst this is all generally true, this isn’t all I felt as a new mum. I wanted to talk about the effect it has on you as a person, how it affects the way in which you think about things and just how much of an effect it really can have.
Before having my son I was already not the most confident person in the world. I over analysed everything, put myself down A LOT and would torment my self by criticising every little thing I said or did. I also used to panic myself and over think situations and things that hadn’t even happened yet. You may not have ever known this was the case if you knew or met me as I hid it rather well, but it is very much true!
When I had my son I felt all of this love and would just stare at him and I just remember wanting to be the best mummy ever. I never had a problem bonding with him, I didn’t have PND or feel any kind of detachment from my child. In fact, it was quite the opposite! It was like a switch in my brain just flipped and I went from being just me to now just being a mummy. This might not sound like a problem, but the issue was that I became JUST a mummy. I no longer was a 22 year old young girl, I completely lost myself.
Having Reid seemed to magnify the issues I had before becoming a mummy. My confidence seemed to get less and less and the only thing that actually felt right to me and that was comfortable was just being with Reid, at home. Whilst I was growing closer to my little man I was distancing myself from the world. I started turning things that I once would enjoy in to things that I now feared or dreaded. Things like meeting up with a friend or going shopping. I now would find any reason I possibly could to get out of doing these things. Yet a big part of me really wanted to do them.
Anything different to just being at home with my little man became a chore and something I managed to put myself off. I always thought when I had Reid I would be able to do all this fun mummy stuff with him and couldn’t wait. But in reality, I didn’t want to do any of it once he was here. I forced myself once a week to go to baby group. I felt pressure from family (who meant well) saying, you need to socialise Reid with other children. I didn’t want anyone thinking I was a bad mum so I made myself go to this group once a week and I would dread it every week.
I became a recluse. The truth is, I just didn’t want to leave my home ever and the more and more I avoided doing things the stronger that feeling of not wanting to leave home became. I lived in the online world and that is how I connected with people. I would speak on Facebook and by text and this just felt comfortable. Deep down I longed to see people and do things but I also absolutely hated the idea. It just made me panic, feel uneasy and I just couldn’t be bothered. I also became one of those people that would make a plan or say ‘we should do this’ but then never actually go through with doing it.
One of the things that really affected me badly when becoming a new mum was other mum’s comments. So as you can imagine, living in the online world was probably the worst thing I could do. So many mums seem to like putting other mums down nowadays and this really was damaging to me as a newbie. I would read articles with conflicting advice, see comments on parenting topics from other mums who would make you feel like a failure as a parent. Commenting on these topics usually resulted in some kind of negative comments back too! I basically allowed myself to become a victim and allowed myself to be ‘bullied’ online.
I also had a very horrible experience for quite some time with another mum who I knew and long story short, it shattered every little bit of confidence I had left. Everything was a competition and a dig at me and whilst I don’t wish to go on about it as this is all in the past I feel it is a huge reason why I wanted to lock myself away even more. I became obsessed with reading things that would make me feel bad. Checking what people were saying on line and I couldn’t bring myself to stop. It just made me miserable, but that was my own doing.
I was lonely! The truth is…being a new mum felt so lonely. I have the most supportive family ever and a very loving man who is a brilliant daddy to our son, but I felt so unbelieveably lonely. I craved for some social interaction but the thought of it also made me feel exhausted and I somehow always ended up putting myself off the idea. The days I had to pop to the shop, I would pray that I didn’t bump in to someone I knew. I couldn’t bear the thought of someone seeing me as I was then. I had nothing at all to be ashamed of, so why did I feel that way?
People might be reading this thinking, ah it just sounds like she had some form of depression or PND. But the thing was…like a lot of people.. I already had all of these insecurities before having Reid. Most of the time I could just manage them like everyone else but once I had Reid, I allowed the negative parts of my personality to really take over. I just became completely lost! I didn’t know how to dress myself, I look back at photos of myself and cringe at how much I no longer looked like me.
I needed to remember how to be myself again! Being a mum was the most amazing thing, but it wasn’t all I was meant to be. I was meant to be someone with dreams, with goals, with pride. I was meant to be a girlfriend, a friend, a daughter. Someone who enjoyed life as much as possible and I was never meant to be a ‘ perfect mum’. No one can be! I always say that a supermummy in my eyes is someone who does their best always for their child whilst looking after themselves too. I certainly wasn’t being a supermummy!
How did I get past it? The simple answer is…I didn’t. I still battle every day to make sure I don’t go back in to the same bad routine. I push myself whenever I can, even if its just a tiny thing like meeting up with a friend. I try not to turn everything down and one of the best things I did for my confidence was doing something so far out my comfort zone that I realised just what I could do if I pushed myself. I signed myself up as a tv extra, I had a brilliant time, I had to socialise with so so many new people every day and I found a new love of acting through it! Every time I stepped out of my comfort zone I gained just that little bit more confidence.
So, why did I write this post….I guess it was so that hopefully, someone out there who is feeling like I did, will read this. I hope that they read it and say, oh my God, that is exactly how I feel. I hope they read it and think, wow, I am not the only one feeling lonely and lost as a new mum. I hope that in amongst all the posts, comments and articles shattering a new mum’s confidence, this is something that actually helps another new mum or new dad for that matter. I felt ashamed of how I was feeling for a long time, I want others to not feel ashamed, or embarrassed or like there is no hope. It’s amazing how many of us mums are actually really similar, going through the same things and we don’t even know.
I also want anyone who has had excuses from me over the years (and even sometimes now), to know that I actually hate being THAT person. The person who would never make plans or always have an excuse not to be at things or see people. I want people to know that I longed to see them or be at that family party but that my stupid insecurities stopped me doing things I wanted to do. It wasn’t a case of not caring or not being bothered and sometimes just making up excuses was a lot easier than explaining the real reason why I wasn’t there.