05/09/2018 by Emily Tredget
My hope – to live in a world where maternal mental health issues (and all mental health issues for that matter) are understood and not stigmatised. Where all mums and dads are valued for the work they do looking after their kids. And where parenting isn’t judged. We are all just muddling through, doing the best we can, and some days that means a TV day and fishfingers for tea.
When I became a mum three and a half years ago my world changed. But to start with, not for the better. I was thrown into a world of sleep deprivation, crying and survival. Not my son’s lack of sleep, crying, or survival – but mine.
I had lost all hope. I was surviving on 1 hours sleep a night due to insomnia, either ate tons of rubbish or nothing at all, and never wanted to be left alone with my son, or to leave the house due to anxiety. And this made me depressed. Because I used to be able to do what I wanted, and now I couldn’t. Anxiety made even the most simple tasks impossible. I got to the point where I wanted to run away or end it all.
But with the right support – from family, friends and my local mental health service I started to see the hope again. I lost sight of the hope many times, but it would always come back, and stronger than before.
When I look back on those days now it makes me sad. Sad that I lost two years of my sons life to anxiety and depression. Some days or weeks my brain has completely forgotten. But it also makes me proud. Proud to see how far I have come. That those days don’t define me.
I now love my son to bits and we have a great bond. I took him to a local theme park a few months ago – something that I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do as crowds, queues and motion had been too much for me for so many years. Not to mention crowds, queues and motions – on my own – with him.
I posted about that day on my social media, because it came a week or so after I launched a free app called MummyLinks (now Happity) to help mums (and now stay at home dads!) beat loneliness through safe and local playdates. But I wanted to tell the world how I was infinitely more proud of taking my son to that theme park, than I was of launching an app. On the outside, launching an app might seem more impressive – but that’s something I’ve been working on for many months and years in the comfort and security of my own home, and in my own time. Taking him out confronted all the fears I had one had.
So this Pandas Awareness Week I wanted to share my story to give hope to all those mums and dads struggling at the moment. Whether it’s physically, mentally or emotionally. You have got this. Yes it is tough. And yes you do need help (go get it if you haven’t already – we weren’t meant to do this life on our own like we so often believe nowadays). But yes you will come out the other side.
What really helped me – but you have to find your own thing as we are all different – was setting up that app. It gave me a focus outside myself. A focus helping other mums struggling. This gave me a sense of purpose that I had lost (and now have that purpose as well as purpose as a mum but that took me longer to find).
If I can go from wanting to check out – truly believing that my family would be better off if I wasn’t around – to helping thousands of parents to beat loneliness through technology and marketing (which I have no background in!), just think what you could do in the next few years.
But whilst you are struggling, don’t focus on what you aren’t doing. Truly accept who you are now, get the help you need, and take one day at a time. It wasn’t until I accepted that I wasn’t going to be the supermum I wanted to be, that my anxiety lifted, my depression reduced, and I finally started to recover.
I got my hope back piece by piece by working on MummyLinks to help others. And my hope today is that I can help give hope to the many mums and dads struggling out there right now by helping them create their local support community; to know that it will be ok, but that for now it is ok not to be ok.