Checking out my webstats this week – someone arrived at my page with the search terms ‘Overcoming PND Guilt’. Interesting – what is it we should guilty about?
You see – in my experience of supporting mums via NurtureMe, via support groups I run for twins club and Juno Edinburgh, via the twitter family/FB groups – all the mums and dads there – they all care. I feel so strongly that many parents that are overcome with PND are those that have fought too long to be perfect parents, that have cared too much, that have tried to be more than their best and that haven’t taken the easy options. They are high achievers. These aren’t parents who haven’t cared about their children which is why we feel so emotionally guilty about any harm we have done through the illness.
So what is it we feel guilty about? For me, I feel guilty for such a long time I couldn’t be the mum I knew I could be – I was overwhelmed, exhausted and frazzled. I often shouted over little things, I got cross, I had no energy to do anything and often lay in bed – not being able to move or wanting to move, and I feel I missed out – really missed out. A whole lot of a year is a complete haze as I spent so much time trying to get better.
However, throughout the WHOLE of that time, I was a constant for our boys – I was there, I picked them up from playgroup/nursery, I tried hard to do things with them, I spent a lot of time cuddling up in bed with them or on the sofa when it was too much, I did as much as I could to get better and I didn’t stop loving them.
Looking back, I believe the reason I got ill was I never took any time for me – I was with my children constantly – day and night – between feeding, dressing, transporting, entertaining (home baking, arts, crafts, trips out), looking after them during the night – I was there like some sort of supermum. But in hindsight, I really did need that time to self-care and look after myself and have some space so that I could nurture myself and thereby have the capacity to care for my babies. And I also really needed to give myself a break for not being ‘perfect’. So what if tonight we have frozen pizza/beans on toast? Does that make me a bad mum?
So what is it I should feel guilty about? I think I should feel guilty about not looking after myself and investing in myself. If I had, for me, in my own PND Journey, it’s likely I would have stayed well and thereby would have been able to be the mum I knew I could be and am now.
And I’m so glad to say, I don’t really believe my kids have been damaged by anything that’s happened. They are three of the most loveable, cheeky, cuddly boys you will ever meet. They are kind, empathetic, gentle and compassionate. Yes they have moments of craziness, jumping and scooting round the house like a herd of elephants (“this house is not soft play!”) but overall, they are amazing and very much loved by both Al and me and our whole family.
For me, throughout this journey, I have learned to love myself, become a whole lot stronger, been a little bit kinder to me and I take time to self-care – I still need to do more of it – but I’m getting there.
Much love, Tricia xxxx