Mental Health Mondays With: The Improving Mum

Monday, October 09, 2017


"Hi, I'm the writer behind the blog The Improving Mum - an insight into my journey into Motherhood, moving away from family and friends to the Isle of Man and how I'm building my new life. I have son who was one in August.

I was going to say I'd been suffering with social anxiety since we moved at the start of the year, but that would be a lie. If I'm being completely honest, I've been suffering since my son was born over a year ago, but moving was the catalyst that made it much more apparent and forced me to, eventually, do something about it.

Looking back, I have been anxious when out in public since the very first time I took my son out for a walk. It was a beautiful summer's day, but ll I could think about was getting home as quickly as possible in case he started crying. It got to the point where I would purposely avoid going out at times when I knew there would be more people such as school drop off or pick up time, school holidays and weekends. The moment I realised I really did need some professional help was when I would avoid walking down a street, to the point of taking a detour to where I was going, just to avoid walking past someone coming in the opposite direction. I can't really explain why I did it, other than I didn't want them to judge me. What for? I have no idea.

A day that sticks out in my mind is my son's christening back in February. It was the first time I stood in front of people since giving birth to my son, and despite all the people there being family and friends who we had personally invited, I found myself completely overwhelmed. Whilst getting ready that morning I had a panic attack, and then again in the taxi on the way to the church. Looking back, I should have known that day that things were getting out of my control, but it took me another three months before I finally went and asked for help.

Eventually, in May, I decided I had to try to find out why I was feeling this way and get some help. It wasn't just affecting me, but it was stopping me from doing things with my son and meaning that he wasn't getting the socialisation and new experiences he should be. I had stopped going to almost every baby group I had been a part of, and had to force myself to go to the one I had somehow kept up.

Sitting in the doctor's waiting room, I nearly got up and walked out before my appointment. I was convinced the doctor would laugh at me and tell me there was nothing wrong. I was so convinced no one would believe me that I hadn't even told my husband I was struggling or that I was going to see someone about it. I was terrified people would think I was an unfit mother.

I was so wrong. Just telling someone what was going on and how I had been feeling was a huge relief. I felt like this dark secret that had been weighing me down had just go ta little bit lighter. The doctor listened, sympathised, offered help. The most important thing was he believed me. I wasn't going completely insane, I wasn't making something out of nothing. I have social anxiety. I was prescribed a relatively low dose of anti-anxiety medication. The only purpose of the medication was to stop the heart racing, suffocating feeling of panic. I still had the same thoughts, I still felt the same feelings, but I was slightly more in control. 

I've been back to see the doctor twice since, and due to go back again in the next few weeks. Just speaking to someone who is understanding, and outlining my small achievements each time feels very empowering, and they are hoping that in the next few months I will be back in control and have enough coping strategies to come off the medication and continue to improve and build my life.

Thankfully my story is one of a relatively mild mental health condition, but I hope it shows anyone out there who thinks they don't feel "bad enough" to get help, or there are others who need it more, that they will be believed, and they are important too. I wish I had got help sooner. I'm sad for the months that my son missed out on new experiences and that precious time I will never get back with him, but I'm proud of myself for stepping up and getting help to stop it from becoming a bigger problem.

To anyone who is experiencing anything similar - please do go and speak to someone about it. Your doctor, health visitor, a friend or family member, or you are always welcome to contact me if you need some reassurance or just someone to talk to."



Check out The Improving Mum via her Blog | Twitter | Facebook

*If you want to take part in this series, please contact me at mumconventional.gmail.com*

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