Motherhood, Mental Health, and Self-Care: Part 2
If you haven’t read part 1, you can find it here.
Now, without further ado, back to Rose…
I have another story for you because it happened only last night and it shows what I was saying about mental health and parenting.
Last night I decided to do something for me. Something good for mind, body and soul and I went out to my first divine light yoga session in months. Being out of the house made a difference and I was able to transcend into a blissful state of mindfulness and relaxation.
I came home and my husband had already put our youngest to bed with little fuss. I had a chai tea and we watched half a rom-com before deciding to have an early night at 10pm, seeing as I was totally relaxed and ready for a good night’s sleep. After all, sleep is one of the biggies when it comes to mental health - it's important to get enough.
Just as I put my foot on the first step of the stairs, our youngest woke up. Suddenly he was wide awake and definitely not wanting to go back to sleep. We kept everything calm, quiet and dark, but nothing worked. He continued thrashing around, climbing over us, pinching my arm skin, and playing with the nerve in my elbow, literally getting in my nerves (it's a comfort thing of his) for another 2-hours, by which time I was just about ready to lose the plot. I got angry, I shouted, I tried deep breathing, I sobbed my heart out. I went through the whole range of emotions. I tried to go for some alone time in the bathroom to have a cry and a wee, but our youngest followed me screaming his head off. My husband tried consoling him, but he wasn't having any of it.
I then began to feel incredibly resigned, helpless, and bitter. I ended up lying in bed, just putting up with it until he finally settled at around 1am. During the night, every time I moved or went to the toilet, he woke up and screamed. He was up for the day at 7am, climbing all over us again.
Anyway, what I am trying to say is that I feel like I set myself up for failure. I tried my best to prioritise my mental state and it backfired. In fact, I feel it actually made it worse for me, because I managed to lure myself into a false sense of security that I was going to get some much needed sleep, and then reality slapped me hard in the face!
The experience has made me not even want to try and relax in future for fear of being so sorely disappointed again.
All the advice out there regarding eating right, sleeping enough, meditation, mindfulness, gratitude, and drinking plenty of water seems almost impossible as a parent. There doesn't seem to be any advice on how to meditate with children around! The days when our youngest is at his most clingy are when my most basic human needs aren't being met. I can't even walk freely around my own home at times without having a screaming toddler clung to my legs. Things like getting a drink, making food, going to the toilet, getting some sleep, or washing myself become incredibly difficult to do, so as you can imagine, anything more ambitious just seems impossible.
I would really like to know if there are any specialists out there that deal in mental health and parenting and if they have any other suggestions.
There can be no denying that (in Britain, at least) we’re finally beginning to see mental health getting the attention it so desperately needs. The conversation is starting to permeate from social media to the mainstream, while even our government is just about beginning to acknowledge that they may need to spend some money on service provision (whereas the experts and advocates quite rightfully point out that this is too little, too late).
And while it’s great that there’s now a wealth of information on mindfulness, yoga, and the benefits of slathering yourself in coconut oil to be found at the click of a button, I can’t help but feel that much of this particular branch of self-care is just paying lip-service to the need for *actual* mental health support: a sticking plaster on an open wound. I’m not arguing that 10-minutes of mindfulness can’t do wonders for some, but as Rose says: just you try it with a screaming toddler attached to your leg!
My hope is that by sharing Rose’s experiences, other parents finding themselves in a similar situation might:
Resonate with her story and take comfort in the fact that they’re not alone; and
Have some advice or resources that they can share.
If you have any ideas you’d like to share (or if you’d even just like to send Rose a message), please reply in the comments, or you can message me on Twitter @sarahbradnum.
Article by VERVE "She Said" Contributor Sarah Bradnum