I have worked in the ‘jungle’ with 300 crew at 3am making live television surrounded by snakes, spiders and critters, but that was easy in comparison to going through postnatal anxiety.
My second beautiful baby was only 5 months old when I had my first panic attack.
I had been happy and tired up until that day, a little stressed perhaps at trying to be everything to everyone but it wasn’t bad, well I thought. Until that afternoon, when while taking a break from watching kids television and cleaning, I suddenly felt a tightness in my chest, my hands were sweaty, and my breathing became shallow. I thought I was dying. That was my greatest fear, having something happen to me and leaving my children stranded. I rang my husband and my mum and she knew instantly what was happening, she saw it coming.
I have always been a workhorse, plundering through shows and thriving on achieving, I assumed I’d sail through motherhood, I had the multi- tasking down pat and I thought I was good at negotiating but alas no.
This was a different game, this was personal and it was hard. My husband couldn’t be more supportive, but it’s difficult when the woman you married who was all together and laughing and happy, suddenly gets sad and anxious and worried all the time.
After that first panic attack, the anxiety filled whatever mind gap I had left.
I didn’t want to leave the house, I was worried something would happen to my kids and I worried I would collapse or worse.
My family were amazing, they did everything they could, but the one thing that got me through the darkness was realising I wasn’t sick, I wasn’t dying, I was just living in my head too much.
I began learning about mindfulness and how we create and therefore control our reality. Because you see, when you are anxious, you feel isolated and scared and anything new can spark a panic attack, so I didn’t want to do anything new, just stay in my four walls and wait for my husband every night so I could quite literally rest easy.
It’s very soul destroying when you have been an energetic, happy, driven, independent and adventurous person to within months the light dims.
I felt I had lost myself as a person and I wanted to find me again.
I realise now, that with great hardship, comes great metamorphosis. Through my learnings as a mindfulness teacher and a light seeker, I knew I had to stop trying to be the mother I thought everyone wanted me to be and just be the woman my children needed me to be.
Being mindful every moment, I mean every moment (especially in the beginning), allowed me to slowly regain my identity back.
I remembered that my life is not one dimensional, I’m not just a mum, I don’t have to be a yummy mummy and I don’t need to bounce back to pre-baby body to be happy or acceptable.
I counted as I was, because the universe had gifted me two souls to guide and love. Simply love. If I loved myself and let me be, then they would be happy.
If my cup was empty then the bowl was dry for them. Self-care is super important and it’s not given enough emphasis after giving birth.
I also came to understand that we are primarily souls having a human existence. Therefore the less we worry about material things, social media, status or other people beliefs of ourselves, then we are able to live an authentic and guided life.
‘You are not alone’, that’s what my mum always told me and another mum told me one afternoon on a playdate. She had gone through post-natal anxiety and recognised in my eyes the same look. And it was so nice to know I wasn’t the only one, because we don’t talk about the negatives of becoming someone’s mother, we only see the glossy happy pics and get told over and over how lucky we should feel. We do feel lucky, we are happy to be mums, we just want to not constantly feel the pressure of what society says is a good mum.
But only we can control what we let in, so for me it was a daily practice of asking for help, making time for me – usually meditation – even just 10 minutes can make a difference and running my own race. Being the mother and woman that I was meant to be.
There are no mistakes on the universal factory floor so my children and I were meant to help each other and grow together.
Becoming a mum is a huge deal. You ARE allowed time to recalibrate as a woman and soul.
You are not alone, if not family or friends, there are great support systems out there, like the Gidget Foundation.
Our job as a parent is to raise kind and loving children, and as children learn more from what they see, then let’s show them that their mums and dads are people, with hearts and souls and dreams. Compassion and empathy can change the world, so why not try some for yourself first. They always say put the oxygen mask on yourself then the children and others, so it’s no longer a shameful thing to talk about, anxiety is a feeling and like a wave if you let it rush over you and stand strong, it will pass.
Little by little, with kindness and understanding, listen to your inner voice and know you are loved and not alone.
You are a beautiful soul and this is still your life.
Hold yourself lightly, everything will be ok.