I've realised how important self-care is since having a child and dealing with a mental illness. I was so exhausted from the trauma. Dealing with the aftermath and being diagnosed with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and PND , I generally felt like a completely different person.
Feeling low and lost
Flashbacks and nightmares
Crying and crying, it never stopped
Wanting to run away
Feeling like I couldn't go on. I couldn't deal with the pain and the confusion of what happened. I felt like a broken puzzle and I felt like I was lost in a maze trying to put the pieces together.
My counsellor was blunt with me and I thank her everyday for it. She said if you don't change and take some time to switch off and relax you will have a break down. So I went on some antidepressants to take me from rock bottom and I took her advice. It was so hard as who has the time when they have a newborn?
I took it step by step. I had a cuppa when she napped and I turned the tv off to read a magazine. I mainly flicked through the pictures because I couldn't focus. I found it so hard to focus on something. I'd fight so much I couldn't sit without looking round the room to see what needed to be done, looking to see what was out-of-place. I was trying and it took months and months before I could just sit and relax.
Self care is so important. I would not wish how I felt about myself and how I felt physically on my worst enemy.
Here's a few tips that helped me:
1. Sit and have a cuppa.
Flick through a magazine, or if you can, watch a box set.
2. Have a bath and pop baby in their Moses basket in the bathroom with you. Or pop them in their cot and take the monitor in with you. Even if you only manage 5 min, a bath will freshen you up and make you feel clean.
3. If you can prepare a salad or sandwiches the night before. If you have time a meal that you can heat up in a few minutes so you can grab it, sit, eat and still have time to relax. I found by the time I'd made something, sat down and eaten it she was awake.
4.Write down what you are feeling. You don't have to be a writer, just write down words. It really helped me. It was like I was getting all the anger out onto paper. I sometimes let my husband read so he knew how I was feeling. Most the time I bit his head off and didn't want to communicate with him because I was mentally and physically exhausted. So I'd give him my diary and say here have a read if I was really struggling. I did this with my counsellor too.
5. Get some of your favourite snacks in so you have something to look forward to eating later when baby has a nap. Mine was chocolate or cheesecake.
6. Take a walk even if it is with baby in their buggy, the fresh air will just wake you up a little and get some colour in your cheeks. I'd had enough of people telling me to get out as I look pale. Basically they wanted to say I looked like shit but were being polite.
7. I read a chapter or two of my book before bed as my mind went elsewhere.
8. I watched a box set with hubby when she settled and got into a routine so we had something to talk about, as I found it hard to have anything to talk about with him other than how sh*t I felt.
9. Getting out the house was an effort, trying to remember everything. I wrote a checklist down and just went through that every time so I was semi relaxed when leaving the house as I was anxious as it was.
I wrote down what times she had her bottles as I was forgetting things a lot.
10. If you can have someone look after your baby then try a yoga or pilates class. Even zumba if you have the energy. Anything to take your mind off of everything else for a while.
Just remember to look after you too. Be kind to yourself, don't feel guilty for taking time out. You will be better off for it.
Most importantly remember you are doing the best you can, having a break does not make you a bad parent.
I guess it's finding what works for you as an individual and if people give you advice, try it out. If it doesn't work for you try something else.
Do not feel like a failure