As I edge ever closer to when we start trying for a baby I started thinking more about mindset and being mentally prepared for trying to conceive, pregnancy and motherhood. Having a baby is a pretty big event in someone's life. After all, it is a huge responsibility and commitment. A child changes your life, not for the bad, your life isn't coming to an end, but it makes things different. Instead of being just the two of you suddenly you become 3 or 4 or even 5. Even if you aren't preparing for your first child, adding another child to your family is also different and changes the dynamic.
It's important to not only ensure that you have the finances sorted, the nursery set up and that you are taking care of your physical health, it is also important that you make sure that your mental health is in the best shape that it can be.
Whether you have existing mental health issues, or that you are prone to stress in times of extra pressure, or perhaps in general, you find that other than normal low mood at tough periods of time, a life change as big as creating a new life can be hard to handle. At a time when you should be most happy lots of things such as hormones, sleep deprivation, leaving work and being home alone all day, can be a trigger and often it's the hard bits that no one ever tells you about.
Up until 18 months ago, I'll be honest and say that I didn't really understand depression and anxiety, what it was and the impact it can have on your life and those who love you. I am an emotional person and definitely a worrier, but always managed to get through tough times relatively unscathed. 18 months ago I fractured my hand and tore the ligaments in my arm (alcohol may have been involved!) and I had 12 weeks of not being able to drive, having to work from home and my partner, (now husband) is a farmer and was working long hours for the harvest, so I had to fend for myself. My friends and family were busy or too far away, so I felt pretty isolated. Then after booking our wedding for June 2016, we were suddenly faced with a series stressful events moving home, which was extremely stressful and costly, a car accident and then the organising of our wedding, plus, I was far from happy in my job. I was extremely stressed and anxious throughout and spent a lot of time crying, tired and not wanting to get out of bed and face the world. Even on our wedding day, I was struggling a bit and although it was an amazing day, I can see the sadness behind my eyes in our photos.
After the wedding, things didn't ease and my anxiety didn't improve in the way I thought it would. My job was getting worse and not better and I was sick of burdening family and friends with my problems. No one could really help me, even though they were very supportive, so I decided to go to counseling. I did a 6-week face to face programme of CBT and it is the best thing I ever did. I am in a much better place and now, 4 months on I have the tools to cope with stress and pressure situations. There are still moments of anxiety and I think there always will be, but I feel happy again. There is no way I could have considered going through TTC, pregnancy and early motherhood through that time. I do worry that I could suffer from post-natal depression too. Before I thought that depression would never happen to me, but looking back, I think there were times even before that, that I was going through depression, but never really identified it and got the help and support. I believe that CBT and counseling are beneficial to everyone and the tools that they teach you should really be offered to everyone to help deal with things in everyday life. I know that I would definitely seek help again if I wasn't able to get myself back on track again. I only wish I had asked for help sooner, but so many people suffer in silence because they are worried people will judge them.
The techniques I learned will really help me through motherhood and I hope I can pass those techniques onto my child/children when they are older, to help better equip them for life. The skills are so invaluable, I really think they should be shared as part of the curriculum for children and inadvertently it would begin to instill in the younger generation that depression and anxiety are normal and not a taboo subject, therefore beginning to change peoples mindsets. There are so many pressures that young people face and more and more are suffering from depression and anxiety. It is a time that all children got the support, even if they aren't showing signs of depression, they are skills that can help us cope in all areas of life no matter where we are on the scale. If the techniques were also offered to families and new Mums and Dads as standard, it could also improve pregnancy and those first few months with a newborn and family life for everyone.
If you are thinking of starting a family and suffer from depression or are just wanting to ensure your mental health is in good shape ready for your next chapter. Or perhaps you are a new mum and are finding things tough, here are some great resources to help you. If you need further support, the NHS offers a brilliant service called "Time to Talk", which you can attend via self-referral. There is no judgment and they will discuss your problems and work out a plan of support tailored to your own situation. If you search for "Time to Talk" in your area online, your local service details should come up, or the receptionist at your doctor's surgery will be able to provide the contact number.
Enjoy Your Baby - A 14-week guide to helping you feel better
Kindle - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01JA2WA1K
Book - http://shop.llttf.com/enjoy-your-baby-second-edition?keyword=enj
NetMums - Helping with Depression Course-
Anxiety Guide for Women-
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Your route out of perfectionism, self-sabotage and other everyday habits
Book - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B006YW680Y/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1