Mental health is getting a lot of attention these days. People are talking about it and there doesn’t seem to be the same stigma around admitting you suffer from a mental health condition, to a lesser or more serious degree.
Keeping your mind and soul healthy is an every day battle for some people. For most people I assume. Including me.
It took me a long time to realise that I suffered from anxiety and I have some issues with OCD/ controlling situations. I think both of these things, for me, go hand in hand. Where possible I try and control everything to a meticulous level of detail, in order to keep my anxiety under control. When I can’t control a situation I can often feel incredibly anxious, tense and let’s say a little bit antsy.
Having a baby has intensified and heightened this feeling of anxiousness, purely because I can’t control everything to do with Annie. Babies are unpredictable and incredibly inconsistent. I struggled so much with Annie in the early days because there was no routine or consistency and I felt on edge all the time. I kept trying and failing to find patterns of behaviour, things changed every day, and I found it against my nature to just “go with the flow” and relax into it.
Over time it has got easier but to keep anxiety at bay I’ve had to find new ways to cope. There’s nothing groundbreaking here but I’ve found three things work: letting go, letting it out and getting out.
Letting go: I’m learning to let go of the small OCD stuff. It’s a part and parcel of motherhood that you never feel on top of things and you have to accept that you’ll never feel completely in control again. For example plans get cancelled because baby is in a mood or your babysitter cancels, the kitchen will always be a mess, there will always be piles of washing everywhere and don’t even mention the dirty nappies lingering around the house.
Letting it out: I’ve found that talking about things and letting my emotions out helps my anxiety. I don’t let things manifest as much anymore inside my head anymore; I speak to friends about how I’m feeling, I cry and I let those emotions out. I’ve learned it’s not healthy to keep things contained, for me or Annie.
Getting out: the simplest one of all is I find time in every day to get out of the house and get fresh air, exercise and clear my head. I find that often when I’m feeling anxiety building up inside me just getting out of the house helps blow the mental cobwebs away. I come back feeling less tense, have a clearer head and a healthier state of mind.
Realistically I don’t think anyone can say they’re 100% mentally well all of the time. Of course there are various forms and degrees of mental illness and some people are just better at masking it/ dealing with it than others.
As it was world mental health day this week I guess I just wanted to acknowledge my version of crazy to the world and share my coping mechanisms. I wonder how many other mums can relate?