This Time Last Year

I remember the way I felt this time last year. The way the air felt, the white noise of something mechanical humming at night (I still can’t figure out what it is), the way the lights across the city seemed crisper… It all reminds me, like the most wonderfully enchanting memory. There is no doubt in my mind that I’m remembering with rose-tinted glasses. But I know for a fact, also, that I remember that the person I was before Reuben was born felt a kind of excitement, naivety and apprehension that I’m scared I will never feel again.

The selfie I took before heading to the hospital to be induced.

I remember feeling dreadfully uncomfortable, completely DONE with being pregnant and massive. And moreover, I was done being told how massive I was. As if I couldn’t tell!? I was sick of the sickness, the acid reflux, the endless peeing, the pain I was feeling around my ribs, the ridiculous amounts of discharge and the sweating. You know, I was still trying my best to cherish my pregnancy but I think I spent more time trying to film baby kicks than I did actually appreciating the moments (something I will remember if I’m lucky enough to have a second). I would rest my hands on my bump, take endless photos, but by 37 weeks I was done. So when I was offered an induction days before my due date, I leapt at the chance.

I’d seen a lot of inductions on One Born Every Minute and I’d read the leaflet but nothing could have prepared me for the days that followed. I felt like I’d been in hospital for a week before I was actually induced – in a different hospital – on my due date.

But my mind seems to have fixated on the little details of the hospital I was supposed to give birth in, when I was waiting to be taken to delivery suite to have my waters broken. In all honesty, it was quite lovely but I was so impatient and being in a hospital bay all day waiting around was driving me a bit nuts. I wasn’t very well prepared, I hadn’t brought much to entertain myself – which is probably why I remember the space around me in vivid detail. From the way the light hit the blue flooring during the day, to the way the overhead lamp created a calming ambience at night. I remember bouncing on that big purple gym ball for hours hoping labour would come on spontaneously but I now realise, it was doing very little for me, and it was probably making me all the more impatient.

I was offered a transfer to the other hospital where I had a bed on delivery suite waiting for me on my due date, a few hours after my mucus plug went, and I jumped at the chance. I now wonder if my experience might have been different if I’d have stayed at the hospital that I wanted to give birth in. But nevermind, what good are what ifs? No good at all.

So there I was, in the delivery suite of this other hospital, taking a quick video of the room for my Instagram. I was telling people I’d no longer be replying. Although I did later on, at some point, I can’t remember when. And I had no idea what was coming as far as the syntocin drip was concerned.

I love that before they broke my waters and put me on that drip, I was blissfully unaware saying “whatever happens I’ll deal with it, as long as baby is okay”. I mean, that wasn’t a bad mindset to have but… Yeah… the girl on the ball in her nightie who just had her waters broken, and the girl on the bed who just got given the epidural were a couple of hours apart, and I can assure you the girl on the bed felt like she’s been through a kind of hell that she knew had changed her forever. The rest of it was a breeze though, if that’s any consolation – it was to me!

I gave birth to Reuben just over 12 hours after they’d broken my waters, and it was incredible. I felt the love instantly – it was euphoric! I felt the rush of love which I’d heard people say is indescribable and I was so relieved. I was so, so happy. When I had been waiting to push, I remember thinking “this is it, my dream is about to come true, I’m gonna meet my baby!” and that was an unforgettable moment too.

So is it any wonder that I feel this way now that Reuben’s 1st birthday is a day away? It’s so bittersweet. I feel happy and sad at the same time. I feel my heart aching so badly when I think back to it. I know this is common in mothers but I never really hear or read anyone talking about it.

Maybe it’s because I feel cheated out of enjoying those newborn days, maybe it’s because I had a vision of how I wanted things to be during pregnancy and it wasn’t like that. It’s not like my expectations were high but when you’re poor and feeling unsupported through both pregnancy and your newly made mother days, it’s very hard to feel like I got anything right at all back then… I don’t know. I guess I am overly critical but when I think back, I have regrets and I find myself saying “here’s what I’d do differently”.

Anyway, it’s hard to believe Reuben’s been on this earth for a year now. He’s turned into my little best friend & he makes me smile all the time. Even though we have been poorly recently, there’s still been smiles. And I’m far from perfect but I know I’m a good Mama.

I’m feeling very nostalgic and wistful about this time last year but don’t worry, I’m also concentrating on making this year’s memories count! Reuben’s presents are ready for Thursday, the flat is looking nicer than it ever has done (apart from the kitchen right now) & I’ve even put the Christmas tree up!

I love motherhood, it puts a kind of joy and resilience in my soul that nothing else can. I mean, there’s obviously sadness and mum guilt in there too BUT! Let’s focus on the good!

Thank you for reading,

With love, Rebecca ♡

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So you’re in a rut? Now what!?

Note to reader: I’m not a therapist, and I’ve barely begun my degree in psychology but this is what I have learnt through my own mental health journey. I just hope it can help you too!

Most of us can say we’ve been there; depressed, unmotivated, feeling like you’re on the conveyor belt of life, experiencing anhedonia (disinterest in activities usually enjoyed) and reaching out to those around you can often prove to be a complete waste of energy. And energy, when you’re feeling like this, is not in abundance! You don’t want to waste it on someone who’ll say “drink more water!”, “change your diet!” or worse still, “exercise!”, because whilst these things are good for you, it’s NOT the first step in climbing out of this rut. Before you jump down my throat, let me explain…

The first step is ACKNOWLEDGEMENT.
Half the battle, and I mean this with sincerity and experience, is acknowledging that you’re not doing so well. You have to be honest with yourself.

You could be saying to yourself “I absolutely hate myself right now why can’t I just get a grip I feel so pathetic!” which is very common in this situation and especially in those with mental health problems, but as I learnt in therapy, it is an abhorrent way to speak to yourself. Would you speak to someone you love like that? (You shouldn’t be!) Well, you shouldn’t speak to yourself like that either.

Instead, be kinder to yourself and say something along the lines of “I’m struggling right now and that’s okay”. The truth is, everyone struggles sometimes and sometimes there’s no reason we can point a finger to and announce as the problem. The brain is a complicated city and sometimes there are traffic jams, redevelopments and unforeseen closures. There’s not always a reason why things don’t work like clockwork. And I promise you that patience and kindness is always more helpful than anger in both your brain and general life.

The second step is to TAKE POSITIVE STEPS.

  • Consider developing routines that will give your day more structure and will provide you with a sense of control in your life. Even if it’s just a morning routine and/or a bedtime routine. This will take a lot of energy out of you so it might be a good idea to write a list/step-by-step guide of everything you need to do in order. Reward yourself when you complete a list!
  • Practice self-care aka taking care of yourself! From simply washing your face in the morning to making sure you brush your teeth twice a day… being able to take care of yourself will help boost your self-esteem. Sometimes basic hygiene is a struggle when you’re depressed and that’s nothing to be ashamed of, but it will benefit you to push yourself to at least do the basics.
  • Clear out social media. If it’s affecting you negatively, you don’t need it! These pages on Facebook that only spout misery and woe about how terrible life and people are? Get shut! That random person on Instagram who insists on posting about how nobody loves them? Get shut! Those blogs that basically promote the message “I will be sad forever, nobody understands me, nobody cares”? Definitely get rid of that! You take in everything you read, hear and see. Replace that stuff with positivity and healing, encouragement and I don’t know… pages, blogs and accounts that post only the cutest of kittens or puppies! At the end of the day, you need to control the content you see. Which reminds me…
  • Don’t be afraid to switch your phone off and go tech free for a while. You’ll be amazed at how much you get done and how much quieter your life feels when the silent noise that is your phone isn’t interrupting your day. I mean how often do you find yourself mindlessly scrolling online? How often do you feel like making a hot drink and getting into your PJs would help but instead, you’re looking at endless tweets that have been posted on Instagram? It’s really not good for us.
  • Surround yourself with music, content and people who make you feel good about yourself.
  • Develop your interests. You may not be good at drawing, but if you enjoy it, do it. You may not know anything about sewing and the perfectionist in you is scared to try, but you should do it anyway if you want to. This goes for sports, writing, photography and basically any other activity you enjoy (within reason, humans!). You don’t have to be good at something in order to do it and enjoy it. Not everything needs to be posted online – but do that too, if that’s what you like to do!
  • Find a way to dump your thoughts. I mean you can buy a fancy journal (that never seems to open properly in the middle???) or write everything online hoping for some validation, but something I’ve found helpful is to just write my incoherent babble into a notebook. It’s written scruffy, probably doesn’t make sense, but it’s out of my mind and it stops you from making a mountain out of a molehill in your head.
  • Talk. There’s always someone out there who you can talk to. It’s just finding a person who will not invalidate or belittle your struggles. You may want advice, you may not. But it helps to specify; “I need to talk to someone who will listen” or “could you give me advice?”. And if you get advice you don’t think will work for you, you can always say “sure, I will try that”. It’s far easier than disagreeing. A bit like when someone gives me unsolicited parenting advice, you just nod and smile, and get on with your day. There’s a difference between someone genuinely trying to help you and someone who just is trying to get you to shut up.
  • And remember, it’s okay to have a bad day. You don’t have to do that day again. Tomorrow will be better!

The third step is to FORGIVE YOURSELF.

Letting go, forgiving people? That takes time and there’s no quick fix for it. You can swear you’re over something til you’re blue in the face, hoping that saying it will make it so, but it doesn’t work like that. Maybe there are big things in your life that you’re not ready to let go of, to forgive, and things you can’t truly accept yet. But you will get there. Wanting to is half the battle. I have written a post on letting go of trauma if you would like to read it. But forgiving yourself is quintessentially the most important part of healing.

That kind of forgiveness comes from accepting yourself and what once was or what is. It’s about being patient and kind and learning to take care of yourself. It’s about feeling worthless but deciding you still care enough to eat, wash and have hope that tomorrow will be better. It’s in the way you decide that bad times will pass and good times will return. It’s about saying to yourself “I may not be perfect but I deserve love and respect” and that should come from you first!

I really hope that helps you!

Where this advice stems from (tw; suicide)
My journey of recovery begun the day after I made an attempt on my life when I realised I almost made a horrible decision that would have hurt so many people. I decided I would get better from there on out. It hasn’t been plain sailing. I have experienced trauma and grief and heartbreak along the way. I have felt suicidal many times since. I make no secret of the fact I was frightening close to making a second attempt just before I found out I was pregnant.

The therapy I had this year, the second round since recovery began, worked very well because I accepted myself for all my flaws and I was prepared to feel the pain of reliving trauma, heartbreak and baring all my wounds. It meant tearing off the scabs of badly healed scars so they could be dealt with properly. It meant sinking into misery and worthlessness for days or even weeks after a session, knowing I could deal with the anguish, because I needed to.

I wanted to be a really, really good mother and that was my initial motivation. But in the last few weeks I decided it was for me as well. You really can’t pour from an empty cup! It’s been over four years now.

My life has changed drastically with every year that’s passed but when I lay in bed now, I sleep instead of being an insomniac. I can go outside without feeling like I will have a heart attack. I can talk on the phone (not often by choice) and I smile. I really genuinely smile with light in my eyes again. I don’t feel like I’m going insane when the voice in my head (a manifestation of what abuse and trauma has told me subliminally) returns because I understand why it’s there and I know how to handle it. I still have bad days and days when I struggle with negative feelings and disassociation but it’s the exception not the rule and I know how to manage it now. I have depression, anxiety and PTSD but that is not all I am or who I am. I have strength I didn’t used to have. I am not ashamed of my story. And I can say I deserve good things and really, truly mean it in my heart.

I will help you if you need it too.

Thank you for reading this, please take care!
Love Rebecca xo

if you need to get in touch or have any queries, contact me at:
rebeccasellers77@gmail.com

“We accept the love we think we deserve.”
– The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt