In my original post (for those who are following!), I mentioned that I suffer from anxiety. It’s a strange thing, as I have never got to the bottom of whether it has come as a result of certain things that have happened in my life, or whether I have always been susceptible to these mental health issues. All I know is that I feel it when life gets a little hard to handle.
Now, I know we all have it. It’s life, right? We have to deal with such tough things and, it’s true, they do make us stronger. But, as I have always said, there has to be a crack somewhere. If you’re strong for too long, the weakness will come. And, sometimes, it’s overwhelmingly shit. Not only are you weak, you’re incapable of coping with anything remotely tough.
In my case, I have suffered from anxiety a few times in my adult life, all at a time after having to be strong and hold things together because I didn’t want to admit to how crap my life was underneath my happy armour. I have been surprisingly good at holding things together and putting on a front, but then I just have a mental and physical crash, and I am unable to cope. With anything.
Becoming a mum was one of the toughest challenges I have ever faced. Perhaps I wasn’t ready, but I never felt the way I should have. I didn’t have that instant bond with my first born son, and it took me at least a year to feel like his mum. Does that make sense? I actually felt as if he was someone else’s child for that first year, and it was just my job to look after him. The breastfeeding never worked out, sadly, so that didn’t help. But, I kept it together. I remember the day we were doing some filming for my grandparents’ TV show (They invited us to be a part of the filming when Khaya was 6 months old). I spent the whole taxi ride there thinking ‘I don’t want Khaya anymore’. I was in a very bad place at that time. And there was no real reason for it. Khaya was, and still is, an angel. He wasn’t hard to look after. He was completely gorgeous. I just wasn’t feeling it. At all. I didn’t feel like his mum.
Now, with Khaya and with Nathi, I am totally there. I feel very close to both of them. Along with their wonderful Baba, we are a very close family who show love for each other all the time. The boys have everything they need, and I have a lot of support from my partner and our families.
It is only now, or from soon after my second son’s birth, that the anxiety is making itself known, and I feel constantly on the verge of an attack. My chest is tight most of the day, I get pains in my chest, and feel exhausted and stressed a lot of the time. But, I amaze myself at how I can stay calm through the harder times, like when my toddler was sick in the car a couple of weeks ago, or when I am alone looking after one son with a tummy bug and one son who is teething and won’t let me put him down anywhere except my lap.
It’s important to note that I have been to see my GP, who referred me to a local psychology service, and prescribed me some beta blockers, which seem to be doing some good. I actually think they numb the stress and emotion, as I’m less able to cry now when things get hard.
That is until I have a proper meltdown.
Something will trigger it. Two simultaneously screaming children, perhaps. Or something really small like spilling something on the floor, or biting the inside of my lip. And it’ll be just the icing on the cake. There may have been about 15 other small things that have accumulated over the course of a day, which just add up to make something larger.
I might shout, or cry, or both. Khaya has this sweet thing where he just calmly keeps saying ‘Hi’ to me over and over to stop me from crying (He repeatedly says words until you repeat them back to him). The worst thing I do is shout around the kids. Or cry in front of them. I hate it, and always feel so guilty afterwards. I don’t want them to be sad. I don’t want them to see Mama like that. I don’t want them to grow up like me. But, I have nowhere else to facilitate these meltdowns. I am with the children 24 hours a day.
Another symptom of my problem is not having any enthusiasm to do anything except veg out on the sofa and watch TV or check my social media feeds. I sometimes just switch off from engaging with reality. I know I keep saying ‘sometimes’ because, on some days, I am totally on the ball and organised. I can even get us out of the house before midday on some (rare) occasions!
Now, I am sure there are plenty of parents who feel the same stresses, and I fully commend all single parents for doing this without someone else being at home when you get in from a trip to the shops or the park. I have been alone with the children for 4 weeks now while my partner is away, and I am counting down the minutes until he returns. I can’t imagine what it is like to not have that to look forward to. I also commend working parents. Especially if you’re in a job you hate, and all you want to do is spend time with your babies. I realise how lucky I am to be in this position as a stay-at-home mum, and I just so want to feel 100% happy in my role as a mother to my two beautiful and sweet boys, and to see the positives instead of the negatives. I just need to get some help to deal with the anxiety, and to be able to manage my anger and stress levels. Maybe, then, I will enjoy life as a mum a little more, and be able to breathe properly again.
Or, there’s always yoga… #andstretch
(Photo credit: Gabriel Matula at Unsplash.com)