For many, Mother’s Day is a day filled with fun memories, thoughtful gestures and hopefully a lie in! However for some women, it can be a difficult day filled with anxiety and depression.
Around 1 in 5 women will struggle with some form of perinatal mental illness. A large number of these women will see Mother’s Day not as a celebration, but as a time to reflect on their challenging journey that has been motherhood.
My first Mother’s Day was filled with tears and heartache. My daughter was 5 months old, I was in the throes of postnatal depression, anxiety and Maternal OCD. I still had
no idea what was wrong with me at this point so I had come to the (incorrect!) conclusion that I must be a terrible mother and a failure. Now I can look back and see that I was severely unwell and needed help, but at the time, and having no knowledge of maternal mental illness I felt completely lost.
Instead of celebrating the amazing achievement that is being a mum, I was looking at the last five months with despair. I’d gone from being a confident, happy, sociable person, to an anxious, frightened, depressed one; and someone who could barely leave her own house. I was a shell of my former self and had no idea what was wrong with me, or how to fix it.
I saw countless images on social media of happy, smiling families, enjoying their day together. I scrolled through the images and wondered why I didn’t feel that way. I loved my daughter, she was my world but I was so unhappy. What was wrong with me that I wasn’t having the time of my life? I felt a failure.
What can you do to get through the day?
So, if you’re a parent feeling this way, firstly let me tell you, that you are not a failure. You are a good person, this illness is not, and never has been or will be, your fault. Depression loves to tell us we aren’t good enough, that no one loves us, and that we don’t deserve love. This is not true. You do deserve love, you deserve happiness, and you will get there. (Please speak to your heath care professional for advice, support and guidance)
If you’re struggling with Mother’s Day, up your self care. And before PND can tell you otherwise – Yes you do deserve it!
Whatever makes you happy, or brings you some joy, do that. It can be small things like painting your nails or taking five minutes for a sit down and cuppa. Maybe you want to make a date to see friends or buy yourself some flowers. Just make sure it’s things which make you feel good.
Take a social media break
Take a break from the online highlight reel that is social media. Remember that what we see isn’t a reflection of real life. I posted many photos during my illness, lots of happy, smiling children and myself (mostly because I didn’t want anyone realising I was unwell) when I eventually opened up about my illness, many people couldn’t believe it because it always seemed like I had a perfectly happy life. You never know what the true story is behind that camera lens!
Don’t compare yourself to others
Following on from social media, don’t compare yourself, or your Mother’s Day to others. It’s hard when your partner doesn’t make the effort to show they appreciate you, and you see others being showered with thoughtful gestures, but that isn’t a reflection on you. Maybe you haven’t got a partner or someone to acknowledge this day, and again
that isn’t a reflection on you. I know it will feel hurtful, and you may feel unappreciated but try to do something nice for yourself. Have some cuddles with your children, watch a movie together, play or go for a walk. Those children love you, and that’s the most important thing to remember.
Be kind to yourself
It’s so easy to let that negative voice take over. “Well I don’t deserve to have a nice Mother’s Day” …. “I’m obviously not good enough” … “I’m a bad mum” .. “my kids deserve better” …. before these thoughts get out of control, stop and remind yourself that this is the depression talking and it’s not true! Be kind to yourself, if you wouldn’t say it to a friend don’t say it to yourself. You are a good mum.
No matter how your Mother’s Day goes, you are good enough. The most important thing to remember is that your children love you. Everyday you battle through your illness, you take care of those babies, and they love you for that – that makes you an incredible mum. So I wish you all love this Mother’s Day, from one mother to another, you’re amazing, you are worthy of love and you are important.