‘And how are you feeling Jemma?’ the kindly health visitor asked, looking directly at me. Questions about my daughter I was happy to answer, yes she was feeding well, having lots of wet nappies, alert between feeds. But me? Please don’t ask about me.
I shifted uncomfortably in my seat.
‘I’m fine! I feel really good actually, I’m just so happy she’s here,’ I forced with a bright smile.
I was happy my daughter had arrived safely.
But I wasn’t fine.
I was overwhelmed and anxious. A handful of miscarriages then a traumatic labour followed by an infection and a colicky baby can do that to a person.
But I was scared to admit how I was feeling. After all, the other mums I knew were holding it together, staying strong.
I went back to work full-time when my eldest daughter was just 3 months old. It was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made and I slowly burnt out, crippled by those old familiar feelings of anxiety, now intensified by the pressures of juggling a legal career with having a family.
Finally, after the birth of our third child, I plucked up the courage to speak to my GP. My husband had watched me worry myself away to a shadow for years and encouraged me to seek out help. The GP didn’t laugh, she didn’t say I was insane, she didn’t say I wasn’t a good mum. She listened and said, with a resolve I will always remember, that I didn’t have to go on feeling this way.
I’ve never looked back.
The whole experience made me feel very brave, like I’m in charge of life now after all those years spent worrying, apologising, agonising over the smallest of things.
I no longer feel the need to cling on to things that don’t make me happy. I no longer feel the need to make people like me. Life is simpler and better now without those storm clouds hanging overhead.
If you are feeling down or anxious please, please talk to someone. You are not ‘crazy.’ You are not weak. You are not inferior.
Most importantly, you are not alone.