Having considered myself a “normal" person until my 20s gave me an idea of how life should be and how I should feel.
Well… all that changed when at that time I started dealing with eating disorders. From that experience, I’ve learnt that for some things you need to take things one day at the time and every day is different.
I became a mother in my mid-30s, and by the time my little girl was about 7 months I was facing postnatal depression. Later on its cousin (how I like to call it), anxiety came along as well.
I’ve always thought of myself as someone who’s bubbly and full of energy. Always active but when I found myself immersed in depression, it was like I didn’t know myself anymore. I had a beautiful, healthy, happy baby girl; a great and super supportive partner, I had bounced back to my pre-baby body. So, what could be making me feel this way?
It took me some time to see it, even though it was always in front of me. I felt as if I was losing myself. That my light was going off. That the bubble bottle felt almost empty.
Even though I didn’t go to proper therapy, I wasn’t as ready then as I am now to deal with certain things, I suppose. I found my own ways to make my every-day life a little bit easier.
One in five expecting or new mums struggles with perinatal depression or anxiety in Australia. We need to open the conversation about these matters, they are more common than we think. Social media plays a big part in our daily routine, showing us filtered, photoshopped, non-realistic body images. This creates unrealistic expectations and pressures mums to feel the need to “get their body back” now more than ten years ago.
When dealing with depression and anxiety on a daily basis, I find there’s not much difference between them, to be honest.
So, here goes my top 5 strategies that help me when I’m having rough times.
1- Admitting to yourself that this is one of “those" times.
It took me a while to understand that I’m not defined by my depression nor my anxiety. So if I’m having an episode, I know at some point I will calm down and say to my self that this is not permanent and I will get through this. Practice makes perfect, so the more I practice this the better I get at it and the episodes become shorter.
2- Scan the situation:
Once I admit this is not ok, I start to scan the situation and ask myself some questions. Such as:
Why did I get to the point of feeling how I’m feeling right now?
Was it something that I’ve said or done?
Something that I haven’t done or said?
I go through those questions in my head and start scanning my current feelings and mindset to see if I can immediately change them. This takes time, in most situations. But if I can acknowledge why am I feeling this way, it takes me one step closer to change my behavioural patterns.
3- Do something to clear your mind
Most times, I find it’s really hard to find the time to do something by yourself when you are a mum. Also, those few moments often take you by surprise. So, for example, if I’m with my little girl, I’d make myself a cup of my favourite herbal tea. Or putting lavender essential oil in my diffuser and just two drops in my palms. Even playing easy listening music, or why not, all of the above! Meditation is a good idea too, and it doesn’t have to be a long one. Ten or even five minutes will help you feel better.
it is proven that physical exercise helps us improve our mood and reduces anxiety and depression. So a good old walk or a run can help me clear my mind and feel re-energised afterwards. A workout is one of my favourite options. Having all those endorphins running through our body and triggering a positive feeling is hard to beat. Even better if I can do it with a friend, this being my top choice by far.
5- Talk about it
Opening to someone we trust can make a massive difference to our state of mind. Sharing how I’m feeling not only opens a door for getting help from a friend but it’s also an opportunity to let other people know that they are not alone.
I also noticed that since I started talking about it, I feel it takes pressure off my shoulders and I feel much lighter. Sharing with your partner how you are feeling is fundamental. We need to be able to let them know how we are feeling since they can help in ways no one else can.
6- Seek help
If you feel like life is too much and your mind is flooded by negative thoughts, ask for help. Your GP will be able to give you different options based on your situation. We have multiple organisations in Australia that take care of these matters, places like COPE and PANDA. Please do seek help if you need it.