Parenting Through Adversity
Welcome to my new guest series – Parenting Through Adversity. I have asked some fellow bloggers to share their stories and activities to help create a bank of ideas for those days when you can barely adult, let alone parent. Since starting my blog, I have been overwhelmed by the supportive community to that has sprung up around me. Knowing that I am not alone in my struggles has been incredibly powerful. I have been inundated with emails/DMs/messages etc from women who get it. Parenting is hard. And sometimes, when you are struggling, parenting feels impossible. So for all of you having one of those days/weeks/months/lifetimes, I hope you will feel supported through common experience and helped with some simple ideas to get you through the day.
Today’s post comes from someone that I first knew as @Candid_Katy – we first got chatting over on instagram. She shared one of my posts and I knew that we understood each other. There is nothing that will make you feel more lifted than feeling less alone in how you feel. She is the perfect person to start the series. Over to Katy…
Hello! Can you tell us a little about you?
I’m Katy, a 27 year old Mum, to nearly 2 year old Isaac. I live in Tasmania, the smallest state of Australia with my husband and lots of family and friends close by. I work in the Disability Employment Services sector but would love to do a counselling course soon and eventually work for a mental health service. I love to read, play the piano, write and spend time at the beach. I have struggled with anxiety my whole life and am incredibly passionate about starting the conversation and ending the stigma attached to mental health issues.
In what ways have you found parenting hard?
I was diagnosed with postnatal depression and anxiety when my son was just three weeks old. I had a traumatic labour and delivery, a negative hospital experience and felt overwhelmed and incredibly distressed from the minute my baby (Isaac) was placed on my chest. I didn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep (despite being exhausted) and if anybody other than my husband, Mum or sister wanted to see me, I would have extreme panic attacks. I spoke up about how I was feeling (thank goodness) and I was admitted to a Mother Baby Unit, where I spent 6 weeks fighting tooth and nail to be able to function. I honestly felt like I had made a huge mistake. I had ALWAYS wanted to be a Mum, I was so excited about the whole journey, but I felt nothing but fear, regret and overwhelming guilt when Isaac was born; I just wanted to go back in time and take it all back. I felt like Isaac deserved a different mother, that I just couldn’t bond with him the way I expected to and so desperately wanted to. After a lot of medication tweaking, continued therapy from my psychiatrist and a psychologist, I slowly fought these illnesses and slowly but surely, fell completely in love with my beautiful baby boy. Parenting is nothing like I expected it to be. I don’t think anything can prepare you for the life-changing, at times heart-breaking, but joy-filled rollercoaster that being a parent is. Connecting with other Mums online and in my community along with seeking professional help has helped me so much. Feeling alone in these struggles was so hard for me; speaking up and realising that there are a lot of other people who have shared similar experiences was comforting and so healing for me. Never keep things to yourself if you are struggling. If things aren’t right – seek help, please talk to someone and don’t suffer in silence.
What tips do you have to cope with parenting in adversity?
It took me a long time to come to terms with the guilt I was feeling that is generally a part of postnatal depression and anxiety. I felt like I didn’t have a “mother’s instinct” and I just couldn’t “trust my gut”. I felt judged not only by those close to me (not intentionally) but by everyone around me. One day it hit me: hang on, I’m not a bad Mum, PND/anxiety is something I have not something I am. People had no more right to judge me for having these conditions, than if I was trying to look after a baby with a broken leg. I started to speak out. I began to write honest, raw blog posts about how I was feeling and what I was going through. I started filtering out “perfect parenting” messages on social media, unfollowing numerous accounts that did nothing but feed my anxiety and sense of self-worth and I sought support from anywhere possible. I attended a PND recovery group (which was incredibly difficult for me thanks to anxiety), I started volunteering for the Australian PND support organisation (PANDA) and really just tried to start the conversation that no matter what is going on, we are trying our best to love and raise our little people in the very best way we know how, and that’s really all that should matter to us and to them.
Do you have an activity you want to share?
I wouldn’t call this an activity as such, but as the weather is warming up here in Australia, Isaac LOVES to be outside. If I am having a bad day and it’s warm enough, I sit outside and turn the hose on, grab some bowls and paintbrushes and let Isaac go to town. It gives me a minute to take some breaths of fresh air myself and being outside seems to calm Isaac as well, running around and splashing and getting completely saturated is totally worth it – a calm toddler makes for a much happier day!
Where can people connect with you online?
My blog: Candid Katy
Follow me on Instagram candid_katy
“Like” my Facebook page “Candid Katy”