It’s no lie that I have been struggling with depression and anxiety for quite some time now. I believe in some ways I have always struggled with mental health and it’s an issue which has been passed through my family.

At the age of 17, when I gave birth to my first child Alfie, I was struck with post-natal depression very soon after. I was in a continuous battle with myself of wanting to be this amazing, perfect mother. But in reality, I was far from it. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t able to be the mother I had hoped to be for my baby boy.

depression

Fast forward a few years, I began feeling like myself again. I believe I struggled with postnatal depression for around 2 years, before something just clicked and I began actually enjoying motherhood.

As Alfie grew, so did our relationship. We had (and still do have) this bond which was so precious and comforting, as if we were making up for lost time.

Here and there, I would feel bouts of sadness and I was fearful that I had inherited mental health issues, like depression, from my parents. But depression to me just sounded so overdramatic. I never realised I had postnatal depression with Alfie until he was around 5 years old. All them years I believed I was just a bit sad, moody and felt like I was missing out living my life as a teen.

When I fell pregnant with Holly, I had the constant fear that I would get postnatal depression again. I’d heard that if you have had it in the past, you’re at a higher chance of having it a second time round.

I was determined I wasn’t going to let it happen, I trusted my parenting, I didn’t listen to anyone else’s judgements and I made sure I looked after myself better.

Baby blues hit me when Holly was around a week old, but baby blues are very different to postnatal depression. I was confident that I was hormonal, tired and sore from breastfeeding so I was bound to feel a little upset and moody.

Months go by, and yes, as any parent I would have my down days, but nowhere near how bad they were when Alfie was a baby.

Lots of things happened in Holly’s first year of life. I began contemplating suicide, I would lock myself in the bathroom, cry and scream for hours on end and I wouldn’t eat for days.

The depression was back.

This hit me like a ton of bricks, unexpectedly and it hurt like hell. I was completely failing as a parent by being so depressed and anxious that I wouldn’t leave the house for weeks unless it was for work or the school run. I completely isolated myself.

It was this time, I was determined not to let depression and anxiety just eat me up inside, so I sought help. I was very honest when I was at my doctors appointment, telling her that I didn’t want to live anymore, that some days I didn’t want to be around my children and that all I wanted was to sleep.

She wasn’t much help, but she did prescribe me medication which at first I felt a bit defeated by; I didn’t want to have to rely on medication to make me less of an arsehole to my kids. But I was thankful that this was the first step in feeling myself again – being a better mother.

It’s now been little under a year since I sought help. And despite being hesitant to take medication, I truly believe it saved my life. I appreciate my life every day and although it’s a long road to recovery, I haven’t felt this good in a long time.

Having depression and anxiety when you’re a single parent, does not mean you have failed, or you don’t love or care for them enough. It means you’re trying your hardest, you burn out and feel trapped with nowhere to turn.

I am thankful that I had to go through that dark time to make me remember and realise just how precious life really is. Especially when I have two beautiful children looking up to me, and without them, I wouldn’t be here today.

 

As some of you may know, my son Alfie is 8 years old – which means he is very much into his video games, YouTube and anything technology based.

Just very recently I have noticed his mood change dramatically when he is told to get off the XBOX, go outside or get on with his homework. What once was a bit of fun, has now turned into an issue which I’m not quite sure how to resolve.

He didn’t have a great year last year, he went through many changes, had to say goodbye to people he shouldn’t have had to and, for a while, gaming was some kind of escape mechanism he would use to not only take his mind off things, but to also block out his ‘really annoying’ little sister, too.

technology

So for a while I let him spend a lot of time playing video games, I wanted him to be happy, content and I didn’t want to set any restrictions because his life, at that point, had been restricted enough.

I wasn’t even sure if video games could become addictive, until I tuned into This Morning the other day, and saw other parents, not just me, complaining about their children and the ongoing battle of how much technology time they have. Before then, although I knew Alfie spent a lot of his time playing video games, it hadn’t once crossed my mind that this is a major issue for mums, like myself, all over the country.

In some ways, it made me feel better to know I wasn’t alone. My child wasn’t the only child kicking and screaming whenever I told him to turn his XBOX off, or ask him to do simple tasks which meant he would have to look away from a glowing screen. Although it gave me a sense of relief knowing that; it also terrified me to think it was an addiction; it can’t be… Can it?

I’m all for embracing modern day technology, especially as that’s what our children are growing up with. Rather than turning their heads from every TV or computer screen, I let them explore this world of technology and not prevent them from having fun or learning.

We’re no longer living in the stone ages – and the more people begin realise that, the better the world will be.

But when is enough, enough? How can you tell a child that enjoys technology so much, to take a break? I’m talking waking up in the morning and asking to play Fortnite, rushing home from school and turning on the laptop to watch YouTube videos.

Don’t get me wrong, Alfie is very lucky that he has the option to play outside with his friends, where we live is very child friendly and I am able to watch him outside with his friends from practically every window in the house.

Is this becoming a serious issue? I would love to know your thoughts.

My issue has never been with video games, or YouTube videos, or any kind of technology that my son has access too. It’s how his mood changes entirely when he has to remove himself from his XBOX or laptop, step out of the virtual world and step back into the real one.

I definitely think I will start being more stern on how much screen time he is allowed, at the moment there are no boundaries and I definitely feel that is a fail on my part.

Is your child addicted to technology?

 

03/02/2018

Thought of the day: motherhood

 

With the beast from the east upon us, it’s meant the kids and I have been home bound. Living in a village, the roads are ridiculously dangerous and unfortunately for us, driving to and from places is our only option, or so it was.

That’s probably the biggest downfall for living where we do – you have to drive to get anywhere you need to because everything is so far away.

With the weather being how it is at the moment, we’ve spent the majority of the time indoors. Trying to entertain them as much as I can before we all go stir crazy is proving difficult. Alfie has spent some of his time outside playing with his friends, but within half an hour he’s back –

“Let me in, my toes are frozen!” 

And if he isn’t complaining about the cold; he’s inside glued to his XBOX (don’t judge me).

Holly on the other hand, is spending most of her time amusing herself with her toys, or watching YouTube unboxing videos. But being stuck indoors means she has every reason to be stuck to my chest like a fly on… You get the picture.

Yes, I’m talking about breastfeeding. Holly is 2 in April and I still breastfeed on demand when we’re at home. Venturing off in the car to different places gives me a break and spares me a few hours of untouched bliss.

So as you can imagine, we’re definitely feeling the cabin fever over here. Being stuck indoors with an active 8 year old and a *cough* inquisitive 23 month old, has meant my parenting has been tested immensely; which has made me question, am I failing in motherhood?

I try my best as a mother to take a ‘gentle parenting’ route.

Gentle parenting: Gentle Parenting is a scientific, evidence based, approach to raising confident and happy children. It is a parenting ethos characterised by the following four tenets: Empathy, Respect, Understanding, Boundaries. Gentle Parents are ‘mind minded’, that is they raise their children in a manner that they are aware and considerate of the child’s feelings.

I have tried to understand their frustration of being stuck indoors, be empathetic that they’re upset our plans to go to the farm this Sunday were cancelled, and respect their feelings of complete cabin fever in the hope they’ll respect mine.

But the past couple of days, I have gone completely against my parenting ethos. I have shouted probably more than I ever have, I’ve become frustrated with their frustration and I’ve become agitated if they begin getting upset over plans we can’t do.

Am I failing at this motherhood thing? Or perhaps I set myself for failure by trying to be the best mum I can be, all of the time. Their isn’t a worse feeling than when you’re sat in the bathroom sobbing because you snapped at your child for no reason whatsoever.

It’s very easy to compare yourself and your parenting with other parents. You know, the ones you see on Instagram playing in the snow with their children, flat laying their children’s ridiculously healthy lunch time meals and there is nothing but laughter and smiles throughout their entire Instagram feed.

Where is the TANTRUMS?

The TEARS?

The MESS?

That is the power of social media. I am too guilty of portraying our lives to be picture perfect and #parentingonpoint, and I do wonder if anyone ever glimpses at my Instagram feed and thinks the same as I do.

Patience has been tested, parenting doubted and my mental state questioned. Am I failing in motherhood? Probably. Will I always fail in motherhood? Most definitely. But I know for sure my kids think I’m acing this entire parenting thing, and they adore me, no matter what.