“Hey there! I’m Becki and I’m a Brummie living in Northampton with my husband and 3 year old son – X. I started The Mum From Brum to share our experiences and adventures as a family, and I’ve found the blogging community an amazing safe place to share our trials and tribulations. I also run a blog series called #bottlefeedingstories where parents discuss their experiences of bottle feeding young children.
I’m pretty sure I’ve struggled with anxiety most of my life. I was labeled “shy” as a child, but that doesn’t even remotely cover it. I once had a nose bleed in class, aged about 5, and I was too scared to put my hand up to tell the teacher – I can remember it vividly! I remember my first panic attack too – I was around 12 years old and I could not catch my breath. One second I was in my kitchen – I can’t remember what triggered it – the next I was scrambling for cool air at the back door. It was terrifying.
I was diagnosed with Depression and Anxiety in the middle of my A Levels. I’d already dropped out of 6th Form thanks to bullying, and then being dumped by my awful college boyfriend tipped me over the edge. Somehow I fudged my way through the exams, but the coming off the medication ruined my chances of studying what I wanted at University.
Oddly, despite struggling through college, I found something that made the world of difference to me – Performing Arts.
I’d hated Drama lessons at school – it was always a show off session for the popular, confident kids. But I had one lesson towards the end of my GCSEs where I threw myself so into a character I didn’t care what anyone thought – and I got a laugh out of the class. It ignited something in me, so when I went off to college I actively auditioned for Theatre Studies.
Life’s been a series of ups and downs since then – each time I felt like I was taking a step forwards in my self confidence, something would happen that would shatter it again. When I was made redundant I felt like I hit rock bottom, and I haven’t worked full time since as shortly afterwards I became pregnant with my son. I’ve been a SAHM for 3 and a half years now.
Being pregnant scared me – I was desperately afraid of developing PND thanks to my history with Depression. However, when my son was born, instead of depression I became crippled with post natal anxiety – I rarely left the house, I couldn’t leave him alone for a second as I was scared something would happen to him. I had horrific images of being hit by cars and him being left alone. I was also struggling with a lot of guilt as breastfeeding had failed rather
spectacularly. There was a throwaway suggestion from a Mum on Facebook that I was suffering from PTSD – X’s birth had been traumatic, and I’d been treated awfully on the maternity ward, not to mention the breastfeeding disaster. I was never formally diagnosed, but looking back now, I think it was likely I was suffering from some element of post traumatic stress.
The thought of baby groups made me nauseous. The only time we got out anywhere was for Health Visitor weigh-ins. I once mentioned to the HV that I was worried that I was depressed, but other than telling me that I had a happy baby and I looked well, I didn’t get any further suggestions of help. I didn’t mention it after that.
The dangerous thing about my anxiety is how, outwardly, I’m absolutely calm. My history with performing arts has taught me how to put on a confident happy face. My son is 3 and a half now, we’ve moved house to a whole new town and I’ve had a bit of a chance to reinvent myself. And the best thing is, I’m back involved with performing arts again – I joined my local am dram group. I’m far from the only person there struggling with anxiety issues – the difference is we can all talk about it, and the support I get from them is amazing.
I will always struggle with anxiety – it’s part of my personality. But as I get older I’m realising that it doesn’t have to hold me back. It’s a case of finding ways to manage it. I am no longer on any medication, and I’ve started to find some joy in exercise – it helps to get rid of a lot of that nervous energy!
Mental Health issues are hard to comprehend when it’s not something you’ve felt.
I’m lucky that my husband understands my need to be alone, my need for space when things become overwhelming, and he gives me enough of a push to help me when I need it. I’ve not always had that sort of reaction, even from family, but now I’m surrounded by people who can empathise and support me my anxiety is under control.
If you’re out there feeling similar, I’m always here to listen or even to talk about my own coping mechanisms, so please feel free to get in touch 🙂
If you want to get involved in this series, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org*