I’ve been battling my anxiety for a long while now, and it’s worsened since I became a mum. I’m not only battling the anxieties I had before, but I’m also battling the anxieties that come with being a mum. I’ve always had some sort of social anxiety and it had got to the point where I wouldn’t leave my house or answer the door. Frequently some days I wouldn’t even get dressed and I’d stay in my PJ’s all day. Well now that I’m a mum I can’t exactly stay in bed all day as I have a little one that relies on me.
When my son, Oliver, was born, to begin with I never wanted my husband, Nathan, to leave my side. The first few weeks must have been rather tough on him, as he had to help me with everything. To be honest I think this is completely normal for any mother to feel this way the first few weeks after giving birth – it’s an incredibly emotional and tiring time. It got to the point where my husband had to go back to work so I had no other alternative but to pluck up the courage to spend a day with just Oliver and if I’m honest it was perfectly fine.
The next couple of months became easier. Oliver was sleeping through the night so we were getting enough sleep to function the next day. We’re very lucky as my husbands job sometimes involves him working from home, so that was helpful some of the time. I plodded along being the best mum I could be, but I never left the house alone with Oliver. It took me a while to make it to the local shops alone, I’d always beg my husband to come with me but I eventually did it on my own. After a while I had it down to a T. We could get into the car together and pop to the shops or to his Grandparents with no problem.
Now Oliver is older he’s more interested in the world around him. He wants to explore and crawl (nearly walk!) everywhere. This is where I had hit a brick wall. I still could only walk to the shops with Oliver. I couldn’t go to the park, into town or anywhere else alone with Oliver. I blamed myself for this. I felt like such a horrible mother – I was keeping my son locked in our house or would just pop to the shops.
One evening I turned to Nathan and blurted out ‘I’m going to go to the Zoo with Oliver tomorrow.’. It was out of no where, I don’t know what came over me! Nathan seemed over the moon that I was going to get out of the house with Oliver. He’s always wants the best for me, so he knew this was a step in the right direction. The next morning I packed our bags with huge waves of anxiety; what happens if Oliver won’t stop crying? What do I do if Oliver won’t eat his lunch? So many worries were shooting through me, but Nathan was by my side and told me everything would be okay. We got Oliver in the car, Nathan kissed me goodbye and then I was on the road, just myself and Oliver.
Once we arrived at the zoo a wave of relief came over me, I was actually outside with Oliver! It felt so good! I popped him in his pram and then off we went! We had such a good day. Yes, at some points I did feel like I just wanted to go straight home and hide where I felt safe, but I didn’t let that happen, I kept going, I did it for Oliver. I had no idea how good it would feel to be out of the house with Oliver. It made me realise that the worst part of my anxiety was thinking about how the day was going to go, but once I was out of the house it all seemed better!
Whilst walking around the zoo I kept on reminding myself that I was strong for doing this. The old me would have never left the house alone. This may sound quite big headed, but if I’m perfectly honest I think I’m allowed to be at this point, I felt like such a good mum this day. This is what I had dreamed about in months.
I now can’t stop here. I need to make sure I do this again soon. I have another zoo day planned with Helen (The Hels Project) and her son, Dougie, in August which I am so excited for. I may start to feel anxious again closer to the date (and I apologise if I’m a mumbling mess Helen!) but I won’t let it stop me.
I’m not that great with giving out tips but if I was to say one tip it would be; Think about how good you’ll feel after you’ve overcome your anxieties. Don’t think about what could happen, just concentrate on how good you’ll feel afterwards.
I’ve still got many anxieties, but I’m so proud I’m overcoming this one.