Mums Takeover: My Mental Wellbeing Progress
So, I’m starting this blog on the 2/4/18 my website is not yet live, it’s 10.40 pm and I’ve got to be up at 6am to fit everything in tomorrow. I’m adding content to some blogs and looking at subjects I want to cover, putting pen to paper to have something to work with. As a rubbish speller, a new blogger, and with English so good a lecturer once questioned if English was my second language (it’s the only language I speak!) you will have to bear with me.
I'm also slightly concerned I am coming across trying to be all SJP in sex in the city, which I’m definitely not trying to do, I’m just writing as it comes to me, if it comes across bad English, obnoxious or a wannabe then I apologise in advance.
So I'm going for it, let’s see how far I get…
First of all, I should make you all aware I am a control freak, I am very particular, and some would call me highly strung (a real catch I know). Oh and I can be little bossy too, poor Dean.
I don’t really know where to start, the dog is about to bark and the baby is asleep so I’m currently about to lose my S*** as quietly as possible!
Anyway, I’ll start back during my Uni days, I have a degree in photography (fun fact, never used it). At Uni I remember not being able to think about studying until the house was clean and in order and I am even worse now. I don't think it’s OCD but I definitely feel there are traits there. I’m very particular about my house, who goes where in it and it’s got to stay as clean as it possibly can once ‘I’ve been through it’. When there’s one finger mark I tend to chill out a bit until the next time, but that’s probably because the next time I tackle the whole house again is the day after the previous time.
Anyway, I love routine and structure and unfortunately, I worry I’m passing it onto my boys, quietly hoping they take more after their fun, adventurous dad...I’m so not adventurous, you won’t catch me at zumba or at a trampoline cardio class, I like reps and sets...routine!
Ok I’m sounding pretty nuts so I’ll tell you what I think I’m good at; planning haha! I love planning, I’ve got big ideas and I don’t see them all through (normally because I realise after a day they are crap) but I plan a lot. I plan and find ways to make stuff work. I’m very results driven so I like to achieve something every day, that maybe something personal like working out or something for others; how to make Jesse a crafting table in Minecraft or helping a client achieve their goal
I THINK I’m very honest and open, probably more verbal diarrhoea, and I over share (I once told a stranger the baby gave me bad wind when pregnant). I think I’m honest with myself, and my family and friends...although my mam and sister (my two bezzies) will probably say I’m not that honest with myself because I never think I’m wrong in an argument ha.
I think I’m good at motivating people and making big dreams become achievable, and I like to try and solve problems! I’m one hundred miles an hour, if something needs doing, if it’s on the list it should have been done yesterday...I do get stressed and I do expect a lot of myself, but I think It’s just the way I am.
I have not always been this way, I think it started at Uni but it definitely got worse after having Jesse. I think it came from hitting milestones with him and now I must always have something to work towards. He started to feed, he weaned at 6 months, he started to sleep through the night, but then the milestones were done really, I knew potty training was around the corner but what milestones should I chase now? He was becoming more chilled and easier, looking back it was always a need to hit a goal and achieve something...having a challenge.
God this is like therapy, I’m self-therapy here (see, English, second language bit, first paragraph).
So the above is edited from my first draft of a blog initially named ‘Mental Health’, the blog actually resulted in me rambling, and a lot of it was a load of babble, partly because it was late at night and partly because I was at a time when I had a lot of mental loading going on. Now I am continuing the blog I have decided to rename it ‘My Mental Wellbeing Progress’ because I feel like that’s what it is, so here goes my slightly more sane view on things from a better place...I’m sure you will understand why when you read it.
So fast forward to a new extension of my business, THE PHBP!
The business is doing well and I love it, I have a lot less on my to do list and lots of quality family time over the summer to look forward to.
Back to After Jesse was born…
So, after Jesse was born I started weight training following my mum and step dads workouts and routines in their home gym. I used to put Jesse down for his afternoon nap at their house and do a little run/ HIIT then some weights. This was a real release for me, my own time and somewhere I had control! I dieted ridiculously, high protein and not much else! I wasn’t getting the results I wanted (I was getting skinny not strong) and I was unhappy with the thought of going back to work. Randomly I came across a PT course, so I decided to study and my overall goal was that it would lead to a new job one day.
I started the course and loved every second of it! After a lovely afternoon out with Dean one day we decided we were going to sell the house, buy a bigger one and for me to set up as a PT once qualified, I was getting closer to my goal. Selling the house with the high gloss floor tiles was major for me, no more stressing over those glossy tiles, I loved the house but the tiles drove me insane, I had a dark textured flooring to look forward to in our new home!
Anyway, there I was training to be a PT with 1 year old (still religiously attending all the baby groups that were on) working 3 days a week, training hard, eating very little and moving house. MENTAL LOADING to the MAX.
For a little time, we had to move into rented accommodation, we were only in for 6 months so I didn't see the need for a washing machine until the new house, I just washed at my mams when I trained (this will mean something later on in the post). The house was fine, and nothing was out of place in life really, we were a happy family of three! Dean works really good shifts, so we see plenty of him too and he is an amazing dad and fiancé.
Before I go any further I need to let you all know I am well aware I have a great life, an amazing family and really wonderful friends, we work hard which enables us to enjoy nice things in life and we don’t have that many worries and this is almost why I still don’t understand why I often feel the way I do.
Why do I get so wound up over stupid things? I’m sure I would know it if I had real problems. I’m not looking for sympathy here but the more I talk about this the more people seem to have had something affect them in a way they never imagined it would. Whether that be big or small I appreciate that its effected them, their life and their mental health. Even if my problems don’t appear as big as theirs I truly believe that talking to other mums and being able to understand that we all have our own weird ways or problems has helped me massively on my mental health journey.
I remember this one day, I was getting ready for work and rushing about with lots to do, I remember being in the bathroom and Dean asked me a question from downstairs, something really simple, where had I put something? My reaction? Tears. I began to cry uncontrollably.
I just walked out the house, my eyes were glazed over and without a word I got into my car and drove. I didn’t know what to do or where to go, I just couldn't stop. I felt like running away. For that moment, that crazy moment, I honestly felt like people would be better off without me and my ridiculous ways.
I felt like everyone would be happier without me around. Then that was it...
Thankfully I had no suicidal thoughts and although it doesn’t sound like much, to me it was the darkest day I have ever had in my life, but for a reason I don’t really understand. I’m sure some people would give their right arm for this to be their darkest day because I understand to some people there was nothing wrong and I was crying over nothing, but it wasn’t nothing to me. I wasn’t me and I couldn’t figure out how to get back on track.
After driving aimlessly I managed to pull my head together and drove to where my mum worked. I pulled up outside and thankfully my Mum was there, she was putting the tables outside and in all honestly she didn’t know what to do with me!
My mam is a rock, she’s strong but in fight or flight she is flight for sure! Her head would spin 360 if someone was mean to another person, but having to see me in labour or someone injured or in a state she would run a mile! Not because she would want to but because she’s just definitely flight! She was at work too so of course there was nothing much she could do.
Anyway, I eventually went to my sisters (Natalie, my other rock) and laid on her bed and cried pretty much all day, and I’m talking actual uncontrollable crying, snotty, not being able to breath crying, like what you see in the movies and you want to say get a f***ing grip!
Dean had dropped Jesse with his mam and eventually I let him come and see me. He offered to buy me a washing machine and just said all the right things, Dean is the kindest and nicest man I think I’ve ever known (apart from my grandad!) and I really don’t know where I would be without him.
Anyway, Dean went to work and Natalie took me to the doctors. The doctor told me I had had an anxiety attack, that I could go on tablets but he didn’t think that was for me and that I could try counselling through an online service (the waiting list for face to face was long). I also got some bloods done as I still wasn’t having periods (I was still breastfeeding). I went back to Natalie’s feeling loads better with a plan in place and I know if it wasn’t for my mam and sister that day I really don’t know what I would have done, more to the point where I would be (probz just Wetherby services to be fair).
I didn’t get round to the counselling and I ended up seeing a gynaecologist about my periods who basically said my body was acting like it was going through the change because of a change in my hormones, and although my eggs supply was fine I just didn’t release any because the hormones weren’t communicating. Now I know this is down to my severe and ridiculous diet and overtraining at the time, with the added ingredient of stress obviously.
So that was it, that was the problem to it all, that’s why I had that episode because my hormones were all over the place...or should I say this was what I blamed? It wasn’t the pressure or the mental loading or the overpowering will to want to achieve, it was all the hormones...should have just asked Dean really!
In the coming months I was prescribed with Clomed to help me get pregnant because the Doctors told me If I wanted another child I should start looking at getting my hormones in a better place or go on the pill.
With zero periods I was advised it could take some time before falling again, turns out it didn’t. Six months later I was pregnant and after an enjoyable pregnancy we welcomed not so little Wilder into the world.
I had a few other episodes like this in the years after but I kind of began to identify when they were coming, my mental load would be literally mental (one child is crazy, two is just insanely hard...multiple birth mums I take my hat off to you!).
I would feel like everything was just too much, like I was the worst mum in the world and a terrible fiancé (hate this word but I’m too old for a boyfriend) and that I just wasn’t good enough, I would offload to my Mam and Natalie they would tell me what I needed to do, what they could help with and that was it, I was fixed. Looking at this now I realise how my relationships got to where they did.
Two things that stick with me…
1. I once read that “your ‘bad’ mental health can be managed but without realising it, it can cause a breakdown of relationships and when it starts to affect your relationships, you’re in trouble” (I don’t just mean with your partner but friends, family, work colleagues, all relationships). This was so true, I realise now I was non-directly pissing off everyone around me. Once the relationships break down that’s when you’re in deep.
2. Someone told me that when you have breakdown/ episode (not sure what the correct term is) there is something you blame. If you’re on a bus and have a breakdown it was because you were on the bus, you have always hated buses and it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. My episode happened because 1. I didn’t have a washing machine (a third/fourth rock? my step dad, actually ended up buying me one for the rental house) and then 2. oh no it was because I’m having this menopause thing! Neither were true but that was my way of gaining control on the situation and blaming anything but the real reason.
I had a couple more episodes over time, one where I was literally curled in a ball uncontrollably sobbing in Deans arms with a dustpan and brush in hand, and in more recent years after a family tragedy where I started by crying into my fridge, Dean had probably eaten the last tomato and everyone knows you can’t make a decent salad without tomato.
I’ve come to realise that work helps, a lot! Seeing clients achieve their goals, supporting them on their own personal journey and to be honest, having those conversations with clients that make you realise you’re not alone and that it’s completely normal to go through these things!
I know there is a lot of people worse off than me, I have a beautiful family, a wonderful life and amazing friends and I am in no way ungrateful for all of that!
I don’t strive for a nicer car, I strive for quality time with my family, but sometimes I get so swept up in work I don’t leave time for play and I don’t prioritise how I should, which then leaves me feeling guilty and a little useless.
Whilst considering new year’s resolutions for this year I spent some time thinking about what it was that I wanted to achieve. The answer was to fix my head, to live a different life in my head and not be so highly strung/ OCD/ bossy/ controlling/ particular/ always right. There was a lot!
After mentioning my thoughts to a client she gave me some information on a counselling service. I got in touch with them and calmly explained to them what I thought was wrong with me. They advised stress management counselling. At the point of asking for help I was actually in a really good place, I was feeling positive for myself and the family about the year ahead and was certain it would be better than the last after what we have all been through, but I still wanted to speak to a professional about my highs and lows and about my various episodes. I wanted to do it for myself but also for my family, because who was I to let me behaviour affect them?
I waited for 6 weeks for the counselling but to be honest the feeling that change was going to happen made me a little calmer anyway.
Although in my first session I kept my cards close to my chest the following sessions allowed me to open up and I didn’t really hold back. Each week I spoke about the things which had overwhelmed me and each week it resulted in suggestions and answers of how to make situations better and how I could deal with things more rationally.
For me, this was the right step and after 6 sessions everything had kind of calmed down and I was feeling so much better. Talking to someone helped me realise that yeah, I’m totally OTT sometimes, I can’t control everything, and I definitely need to stop trying, but it also made me realise that I’m not totally nuts. I don’t have any issues that are causing me to be like this I just need to manage things better and chill out, stop trying to set myself up for a failure and prioritise those things that really matter.
I was so stressed and forever taking life on at 100 mph, I didn’t realise I was unapproachable to the closest people to me because 1. I was likely to be a bit unpredictable day to day, how could I take constructive criticism? And 2. They didn’t want to stress or upset me anymore than I already was because of my need to carry so much mental loading.
Counselling lead to some conversations that really helped get these relationships back to where they should be, I feel like I’m on the outside looking in now and see things very differently and from all sides rather than just MY tunnel vision.
My non-diagnosed OCD is better, I tend to get better quality time with people rather than just 5 seconds of catch-up and spreading myself thinly, although I am still working on this. I have a lot of friends I wish to prioritise come September, friends who don’t realise how much them not giving me grief about not seeing them is unbelievably supportive in itself. I love you guys...I’m sure you know who you are...although you might not be able to remember what I look like.
They say the best work is done 4 months after counselling has finished because the togs are turning and re-aligning. I do stress, I do still have control issues and the need to micro manage but I try to prioritise and take things a little slower. Because of those things I can honestly say that every day I feel a little closer to becoming a much better ME! When I do lose myself it’s now easier to see how I can gain control again and get me back on track.
I’ve written this blog to support my mums takeover which is featuring on the blog and on the PHBP socials throughout August. With all the wonderful stories I’ll be sharing from inspirational mums I felt it was only right for me to be honest with my mum life and share my struggles and learnings too.
I hope you don’t think I am moaning about what may seem nothing to you. I’m not moaning about my life and the way I am, I’m sharing these thoughts and feelings in the hope that it helps someone else realise there is help out there and us mums all have our own things going on, we should never be afraid to talk about it or think our issues are too little to matter.
A wonderful lady once told me that each person’s problems are just as big to them as any other person’s problems, despite what the problem is (she definitely said it better than that). This will stay with me forever.
If you are struggling with ANYTHING and need someone to speak to, I reached out to Alliance Psychological Services but the Samaritans or Mind are also great charities helping people with problems no matter how big or small. Please reach out if you feel like you need to, you are never alone.
If you feel like sharing your story may help you and you would like to be part of mums takeover then please get in touch we would love to hear from you.
You can read what #mumtakeover is all about here.
Thanks for reading,