When I became a mum, the first few days or weeks were not exciting at all, it was the combination of just having major surgery, the shock of being a new mum, sleeplessness, tension between my husband and I and my mother-in-law helping me and at the same time making me sad.
The culture of omugwu is a thing that for it to be effective, it has to be done properly but I digress. I would say this before I continue, in hindsight, I know my MIL didn’t mean any harm or just wanted to make me sad, it all just came down to misunderstanding and doing the wrong things from a good place (if that makes sense).

Right from when I got out of the theatre till she left I was so unhappy. Different things she said, did or insinuated by her words hurt me deeply and at some point, it escalated that my own mum had to come, talk to me and then I apologised to her which sank me further the hole of the feeling of depression. I didn’t have anyone to talk to, I felt so alone and none of my friends at the time was checking on me. It was a really really lonely road and the fact that it felt that no one was hearing me or taking my feelings into consideration was another blow.
I just lived through each day and reminded myself that the time will be over soon. I appreciate my MIL for everything she did, I mean she was so helpful, cooking for me and taking care of the baby but I was suffering mentally.

So, I found an outlet. This blog.

It started with me sharing posts on my personal Instagram page at the time but since what I talked about there wasn’t related to motherhood I decided to open another page and blog. It was a huge breath of fresh air as I saw that all the things I felt and couldn’t accurately express were not peculiar to me and most mothers at different times have felt the same way. While I felt a relief, I still wasn’t doing okay mentally but I was better.

When my son was about 4 months+ we moved houses and looking back that contributed to how I felt, there were so many things I didn’t like about the move and the house we moved to compared to our old house and that was another trigger. I was so exhausted because I didn’t have help at the time (just got one before the move) and my routine included taking care of a baby, working my part-time job, working on my youtube channel, reading for school work. It was A LOT! Somehow, I made it work but my priority was getting help and I did and did and did and did. In the last 3 years, I can’t even tell you the number of domestic help I have had, in the space of a few months I had like 5 at one time. It’s ridiculous, but today is not about domestic help.

When we moved, I was on the verge and hanging to a thin thread of sanity. You see I have slipped into depression in the past and I know how dark it can get because I had suicidal thoughts and I didn’t ever want to get back there so I will scrape whatever it is to help me barely not go down the dark hole. Once I notice I am slipping, I will take a day off my schedule and just be but still not addressing the issues, so I will feel better enough to continue on my quest of life till I notice I am slipping and the cycle goes on and on.

When we moved, I left my part-time job because I knew if I continued the job it was only a matter of time before I lose my mind, to say I was struggling mentally is putting it mildly, so, I am suddenly not having any income to myself, losing my self-esteem and lost my identity then I started hanging out with Dr Anne and I know on many occasions I must have cried as she was talking or I was talking to her or after I got back home because she had been exactly where I was and I felt a lot better knowing that she SAW me!

It was the beginning of me getting back to myself, it’s been almost 2 years now (if not more) and it’s still been a yo-yo journey, simple things still trigger my and push me to the edge but I am beginning to own my journey and do things that will benefit my mental health.
The recent happenings all over the world have been a huge trigger for me, the pandemic, the police brutality, rape, racism, spiritual abuse and other personal stuff has pushed me to the edge and while I am still trying to find a balance, I am reminded that it’s okay for me to recognise this as a trigger and be okay with myself to take a step back.

Your mental health as a woman when you become a mum is so different than when you didn’t have kids. When you don’t have kids, you can be in your funk for as long as you want and there might or might not be any extra pressure to deal with things. When you become a mum, asides the things you are dealing with as a person, there is the extra pressure to show up for your child(ren) in ways you might not even have the capacity to in that given moment.
Here is what I have been doing over the 3 years of fighting for stable mental health (in no particular order),

  1. Knowing that I won’t win all the battles all the time: The journey to stable mental health is not a sprint. There are days you will win the battle and other days, the battle will win you. On those days sit in your feels and ride the wave, just don’t fall off the cliff. 
  2. Taking it one day at a time but also one feeling at a time: As much as I take everything one day at a time, there is also the place of taking one feeling at a time. It takes you identifying and labelling what you feel per time and dealing with them one at a time. Like I said above, it’s not a sprint. Deal with each feeling instead of being overwhelmed by the weight of all your feeling all at once. 
  3. Unplug: This one has been a huge lifesaver. I’m grateful that I have my mum in the same city and I can ask for a few days when things are going haywire on my end and I need time to unplug. Unplug for all the “roles” you occupy as much as you can afford. Only the healthy can make money, only the healthy can take care of children. Give yourself permission to not follow the newest trend or skip social media for a few days.
  4. Get (professional) help: Let’s face it, therapy can be is expensive. While you may be able to afford your first 2 sessions, the real help comes in your consistency and the therapist getting to know you more and we can both agree that won’t happen in one one-hour session. Therapy is something I am looking forward to being able to afford but in the meantime, if you have a trusted friend, talk to them - they may not be able to give you professional advice but they weight of carrying the burden alone can be lifted. If you can afford therapy please do. There is no shame in seeking the help that will help you be a better person and deal with everything you are going through. I know about this because I have few friends and family who have gone through therapy and I see how much it helps them. 
  5. Having a sense of purpose: Looking at my life and having a sense of purpose from my walk with God helps me deal with the feeling of despair, worry and hopelessness. I get fuel from that and see a reason to not sink further into the hole and to be honest sometimes you just won’t care but I found also that saying a prayer and being honest with my feelings through journaling “Dear God” letters have helped put things into perspective, get clarity and sometimes just vent everything out. 
  6. Do something that is YOU centred: I’ve read in so many places that exercise is good, it gives you the feel-good hormones and all but it is hardddddddd but recently I needed to do something for me and I chose to exercise and while it is very hard, I do it anyway because it is for me! It is something I am doing for me to be better because I know if I can achieve a flatter belly than I currently have, I will feel better about myself. So, find something that will make you feel better about yourself at the end of the day and do it. The process might will be hard but you’d be doing it for the joy that is set before you. 
  7. Focus on short term mental goals: Instead of focusing on “I want to be happy” find short term goals that will bring you to that place that will take you to the place you need to be. Don’t compare your journey with anyone else’s and focus on you. 

While I am still struggling to stay balanced and focused mentally, I keep doing all these things to help me stay sane through it all and gradually I am getting myself back together and I hope if this is something you are struggling with you can get help and start your journey to a better mental state.