On a bleak Tuesday afternoon as my baby napped, I screwed myself up on the sofa with my laptop, deciding for a change not to hurl myself around frantically catching up on housework because I felt like crap. In the doldrums, feeling like a bad mum, a rubbish wife, and beating myself up for not living up to the image that I wanted to portray of an easy, breezy super-mum.
That's when I first came across mum vloggers. For those of you that don't know, it's basically mothers opening up their lives and sharing their experiences of the various aspects of motherhood on camera. Some of them were showing a day in their lives and others were more factual or ideas led. Some were slick and well-produced and others were simply a mum talking to her iPhone in her bedroom.
I was hooked.
Now I would like to add at this point that I am not a weirdo. But I have to say that these women started to feel like friends, not because I live in a delusional world where I believe that the people I watch on TV are my friends, but in a eureka, I'm-not-the-only-one, kind of way.
I didn't want to go to mum and baby groups to talk 'baby shop' or connect with other mums. Even if I wasn't feeling the way I was, they still wouldn't have been my thing. The trouble was, this meant that other than my very close girlfriends, I wasn't in contact with many other mums. So for someone so private and insular, combined with the fact that at the time, without yet knowing it, I was in the midst of a slippery decline into the grips of anxiety and maternal OCD, these videos offered a little chink of light in my long, exhausting day.
One of these mums who quickly became a favourite of mine, was Natasha Bailie.
This first time mum to toddler Max is whip-smart, but at the same time with just enough dizzy to make her totally endearing to mums.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Natasha recently and I asked her what drove her to open up in such a public way.
" We are constantly thrown images of the 'perfect mother' who can blog, wear white jeans and be a size zero 3 weeks after labour and I was as shocked as anyone when these things did not happen to me! I wanted to show that there is a plan B and that is what drives me to show all the highs and lows of my personal struggles in my weekly vlogs. Plan B is pretty awesome."
Another favourite of mine is Jules from The Giggles Family. I remember the relief it gave me to see her vlog about the reoccurrence of her anxiety and panic attacks. I spoke to Jules about her choice to speak so candidly when she could have just kept it to herself.
"Anxiety can be a scary and lonely feeling.
Since I posted my video on feeling anxious the first night away from my son, I've had comments and emails from viewers saying they have been through the same thing. It seemed to make a difference to people. When I had a panic attack just before we moved to our new military posting, I knew I wanted to talk about it as it could help others again. To see these things can happen in life, to get across how it feels, and hopefully give reassurance that you can get through it".
You wouldn't know it to watch her, but Alex's anxiety makes it difficult for her to be confident in front of others.
" I understand that whilst some people may not understand when I talk about my anxiety, there will be others watching who can really relate. I hope that those people are reminded that they're not alone when it comes to feeling anxious about things.
We're all human at the end of the day".
So hats off to you Natasha Bailie, because when you struggled to leave your son at nursery (hiding in a bush whilst anxiously waiting to go back to him) I felt so much happier in the knowledge that it's ok for me to struggle like that too.
I salute you Giggles Family, for sharing such a personal experience with anxiety and panic attacks with others. You're making it easier for others to find the words to express how they are feeling too.
And bloody good on you Alex Gladwin, for turning something that could so easily hold you back into something that is helping yourself and many others.
I wish I could give a shout out to all the mum vloggers. But I would like to say to all of you, bravo. For having the guts to pick up a camera and offer advice and inspiration to other mums by sharing the good, the bad and the downright ugly of this crazy ride that is parenting. Regardless of whether you have thousands of subscribers to your YouTube channels or are inundated with likes, retweets and follows, you are helping us all to challenge this ridiculous image of what being a mum should be or feel like. It's the honesty and the openness that will show that this image that we're all striving for is nothing but a fairytale.
My battle with anxiety and maternal OCD has so far, been a private one. But I will remember that when I speak the truth, it makes it easier for the next person to speak, which I know all too well, can mean the difference between a pretty unhappy time and the start of things getting better. So I go on in this new vlogging endeavour with this in mind. I will be turning the camera on myself and sharing my journey. My hope is that one day on some bleak Tuesday afternoon someone will see what I've shared and it might make them feel better too.
Charlotte Peach's YouTube Channel