What is the cause of your anxiety and depression? – The question everyone asks, yet the only question you can’t answer no matter how hard you try.
I’ve always been an anxious kid, I loved the sense of routine, knowing what was going on and everything I owned had to have its place. Although, I never realised that it was the beginning of my anxiety. I grew up with this, part of my everyday life. Then I got older and at the age of 19 I left home and moved away to attend Southampton University – That lasted a year and due to some major personal issues I dropped out of university and moved back home. This left me feeling like I was a failure and that I wasn’t good enough to succeed at anything like all my friends and family had done before me. BUT – I picked myself up, pretended that everything was A OK and I moved on.
Fast forward a year and my beautiful little girl was born – Miss Lillie Ava. And I don’t know if it was the hormones or me feeling overwhelmed that this tiny baby depended on me for everything, but the anxiety and depression came back with a vengeance. If anyone were to ask me if I has post-natal depression I would have straight up said NO – Midwifes and social workers asked and the answer was the same ‘I’m fine, everything is fine’. I mean it’s not like I didn’t bond with Lillie, I wasn’t afraid of being alone with her and I enjoyed being a mum. It was more the worry of not being the perfect mother and not doing the right things or the right way. For some strange reason I thought that they would think I was a bad mum if I said any of this to anyone, coupled with the fact I was only 21, so I kept my mouth shut. I thought they’d take her away because I wasn’t competent to look after her – Yes when I look back it was a bloody ridiculous thought! I guess in an attempt to make myself be okay I enrolled in university and took on a full time 3 year degree with a 3 month old baby. It was hard, but my mind set was ‘It’s all for Lillie and she will be proud of me’. This meant that I missed out on some major things in the first three years of her life and it makes me feel awful thinking about it. That I wasn’t that stay at home mum that made everything from scratch and went to all the baby groups like you’re supposed to do. Lillie was obviously oblivious to it all and enjoyed her time in crèche with the other children, and my family were amazing in helping out too. I kept telling myself that without this degree no one would be proud of me and I wouldn’t get that job I needed in order to support myself and Lillie, so I knuckled down and got it done!
Degree completed and certificate gained – New job and everything was peachy! No major bouts of anxiety or depression, I thought I’d cracked it. That’s it, it won’t come back, why would it? Now, the one thing that triggers my anxiety is the fact that I feel the need to control and feel secure. Call me a control freak, that’s fine. In a sense I am! The sense of being in control makes me feel safe, if I can control things, I can control the outcome. If I know the outcome, I know exactly what is coming. This affected me majorly in work – I would take on so many things and try and complete them all. In doing this I would run myself into the ground and my ability to say no to people took its toll. The sense of being the strong one took over, I can’t have time off and I can’t have a bad day because people will think I’m weak and I can’t cope. This was the same at home, I find it hard to let people in because I’m used to being the strong independent woman who can and will do everything – Again its part of the control complex I have, oh and the ‘Be Perfect’ complex too!
Six months ago, I couldn’t manage it anymore. There were days where I wanted to stay in bed and I wanted the ground to swallow me up and other days my anxiety was so bad my heart would race and I’d get that wound up feeling I couldn’t breathe. I bit the bullet and asked the doctor for help, a long discussion later I was put onto Citalopram. I’d refused previously as I didn’t want to be that mother that popped pills just to get through the day – We all know that stereotype. I’m not ashamed to be on medication and it’s what I need in order to keep everything under control and to be the best person I can for Lillie. Maybe one day I’ll get to grips with the be perfect complex and the being in control all of the time, but until then I’ll continue to keep working on my self-care and mindfulness.
Just remember its perfectly acceptable to have bad days and you have to talk about it! No-one will judge you, we all need to be there for eachother in order to get through it.