It's no secret that I have a lot of feelings and I share them openly. I know that's not everyone's cup of tea and I respect that. All that mushy stuff I say and feel and discuss makes some people uncomfortable, makes them roll their eyes and hopefully hit the "unfollow" button from any of my social media accounts - and that's totally OK. But I am not going to stop sharing. I have received so many messages, emails and texts from people I know, and also people from all over the world who have read a blog post or seen something that resonated with them on my Instagram or Facebook page - and while I by no means have a significant "following", I will continue to share as I see fit. Because it is my blog/Facebook/Instagram after all. I absolutely understand and agree that everyone has a right to their opinion, but for any negativity that might crop up there is a lot more positivity in response to what I write and share, and that is what I care about. Helping other people not to feel alone in their battles with mental health issues is so important to me. Showing other Mums that we don't have to be happy and full of joy all the time and that's it's OK to talk about that is a good thing. Discussing important topics like postnatal depression and severe anxiety/agoraphobia in the hopes that someone might come across it and find some comfort is something I will never stop. Nothing I share ever has the intention to be interpreted as malicious, selfish or otherwise - let that just be known to be a constant undercurrent of everything I write. I write not only to try to help others but because it helps me - and sharing in a public way has proven to be therapeutic and connect me to a lot of other like-minded people and for that I am truly grateful.
I am feeling even more emotional than usual as I enter my last week of maternity leave. The last seventeen months feel like a blur at times, and then a memory can hit so hard and fast I am left reeling at how it seems "just like yesterday". Most of the time has been spent at home, comforted by the four walls and the endless desire to avoid the "what if'" situations that might arise if I was to leave. This has become harder and harder as our energetic boy grows and is more difficult to entertain. His love of the outdoors is like some strange irony - he forces me out of my comfort zone in order to make him happy, because that is what holds everything together. Making my son feel as safe, happy and loved as humanly possible.
That constant feeling of guilt has been rearing its ugly head more and more of late. Both because I am needing/wanting to go back to work and also for things that are long over but sometimes come crashing back into my head and knock the wind out of me. I shared a while ago that we hired a sleep consultant to help us with Isaac's consistent wakefulness that was absolutely detrimental to all of our lives - and all of a sudden I have felt like this was such a selfish thing to do. My brain tells me that Isaac needed me, that I should never have tried to get more sleep for myself even though I was barely holding things together. The fact that his sleep has gone a bit backwards at the minute for a number of reasons has contributed to this as I think back more and more on the strategies we implemented and how I don't know if I can do it again (side note: the way we did this was in no way cruel, but my brain plays tricks on me and makes me think that maybe I could have tried harder somehow to sort the sleep issues out myself). I know it's ridiculous. I know we needed help not just for myself and Reid but for Isaac. He was SO tired. SO unsettled. All our efforts were doing nothing but hindering any sleep progress and when my brain is kind enough to be rational, I can see that clearly - but when my brain is being an asshole (sorry for swearing Mum), I feel like what sort of mother am I if I can't even get my baby to sleep? What sort of mother doesn't just let her baby sleep with them if that's what he wants, even if it means I don't sleep? It's just a vicious cycle of self-hatred and unnecessary guilt that I know is useless. The bottom line is, I was falling apart. I was so tired I couldn't function. I wasn't enjoying Isaac at all, my meds weren't working so I was depressed, anxious and absolutely miserable. I cried all the time. I dreaded night time. I slipped further and further backwards until we were able to get this sorted. I applaud mothers who are able to cater to their babies needs and cope with the sleep deprivation both physically and mentally; I am just not one of those people. I can't do it. I needed help, and while I might sometimes feel a stab of guilt and uncertainty about it, deep down, I know it was the right thing to do. It was the only thing to do to avoid another hospitalisation and to make me feel like a half-normal human being again. Not to mention the change in Isaac once he actually started to rest.
I am currently deep into organisation mode. I return to work in seven days and that means a whole lot about the next few months is unknown. I have done food prep, written lists, mentally prepared outfits, run through a daily timetable in my head and I know things still won't go to plan, because that's life and I have to let go sometimes. I don't know how I'll cope with wearing both the Mum and employee hats, but I can only try. I don't want to fail in either area (hello, perfectionist personality) and I know I am going to put a lot of pressure on myself that is probably unnecessary and not going to end well at times. But I am prepared for this. I know things won't be perfect and I will be tired and emotional and occasionally angry. But I also know I will be strong enough to ask for help if I need it and will not bottle up how I'm feeling to have it explode in people's faces (the people I love particularly). I will do my best to practice what I have learned from my psychiatrist and my psychologist. I will take it one day at a time (that might be a lie... I will TRY to take it one day at a time) and I will continue to be honest and share the imperfections of a seemingly "ordinary" life. Because to me, how far I have come since Isaac was born is extraordinary. The glimmer of excitement I feel about going back to work is extraordinary. The occasional positive light that shines at the end of a very long tunnel of negativity is beyond extraordinary. My fight and my persistence and my desperation to beat this thing is extraordinary (same goes to everyone who is in the same or a similar boat), and I won't let anyone take that feeling of accomplishment away from me.