I spent the whole of my pregnancy doubting myself. I was constantly worrying I would crumble under the pressure of motherhood. I was the kind of girl who got her Mum to ring the doctors or her husband to ask a question in a shop. I may have appeared confident but I was the complete opposite. I shied away from hundreds of situations and after reading Laura’s blog post Anxiety & Me recently it suddenly hit me, I definitely had social anxiety. I read Laura’s blog and nodded the whole way through it whilst feeling totally relieved I wasn’t the only one who felt this way! I was the girl who would never get up in a room full of people to go to over to the bin in fear of what could happen, what if I tripped over? What if I missed the bin? Would everyone look and laugh? Would someone make a comment? (writing this down is making it sound so stupid but these were the actual thoughts going through my head). I never realised at the time that I had social anxiety I just assumed this was my crazy brain? I didn’t think this was a ‘thing’ or that other people suffered with it because everyone else always looked so confident?! It’s only now I realise that we’re all kinda faking it till we make it.
My anxiety hit sky high in the run up to our wedding and I continually suffered from panic attacks (I even had one on my hen do). At the time I didn’t really think about it too much but I was stressing and putting way too much pressure on myself mentally and psychically. You pin this total ‘ideal’ on your wedding day and I suppose you feel like if it’s not totally ‘perfect’ then it’s wrong. Or at least that’s how I felt before my wedding, now I would tell you it will be one of the best days ever no matter what and the best way to handle it is with a chilled out attitude of what will be will be. Because I don’t know if anyone ever told you this but you can’t manipulate the weather (why do we worry about things we can’t control!?!). We had the most amazingly perfect wedding day and yes things did go wrong but none of that mattered! By this stage things had got so bad that I had to take beta blockers on the morning of our wedding to stop me basically internally combusting (Beta blockers work by blocking the effects of norepinephrine, a stress hormone involved in the fight-or-flight response. This helps control the physical symptoms of anxiety such as rapid heart rate, a trembling voice, sweating, dizziness, and shaky hands). That was the first and last time I ever took medication for anxiety. I just knew I needed something to get me through that day, the one day I’d spent years planning, paying for, dieting for, stressing over, I just needed to enjoy the day. Looking back now I realise it wasn’t just the wedding contributing to my heightened anxiety it was a number of other things, some which are too private or too upsetting to discuss, but the stress of planning and organising combined with the pressure I had put on myself was definitely a huge trigger. I pin pointed my triggers; putting too my pressure on myself, caffeine (a HUGE trigger) social media and sometimes alcohol and I worked on each one at a time. If I felt myself getting overly anxious then I would think back to a what could have triggered it (possibly 2 litres of Pepsi max plus a wedding table plan. EURGH) and that way I could talk to myself and reason with myself that there was an explanation for feeling the way I did.
It’s crazy to think that I haven’t had a panic attack since the day I got married and I feel like this blog post sounds like I’m blaming the wedding, but really this was just me not knowing how to cope with these situations. Since having Evie, apart from suffering from postpartum anxiety in the early days (you can read that post here), I can honestly say I have become the most chilled out I’ve ever been in my life (which is still probably level 10 stress head Sal for some people, but for me this is chilled as it gets) Which surprises me more than you’ll ever know! I thought having a baby would heighten my anxiety and make me constantly worry. Don’t get me wrong, I’m always worrying about her like any Mother would, but it’s in a totally different way; it’s a natural worry. I have confidence in myself since becoming a mother, a confidence that I’ve never had before and I think this might be the third time I have used this quote on my blog because it is so bloody accurate but “Before I was constantly looking for happiness within other people, places, things or whenever I could find it. Motherhood has helped me to love myself through loving you. I no longer wonder what the world holds for me because I am already holding my whole world in my arms.” I can’t even tell you how much this quote sums up my entire existence. I was always looking for other people and places and things to find happiness when really happiness can only lie within yourself. I didn’t have a hobby, I didn’t have a passion, I didn’t know where I was going in life and I always viewed myself as a lesser person, it sounds crazy but I always thought everyone else was better than me. Everyone else was always more intelligent than me, more ambitious than me, more confident than me and I spent so long being negative towards myself it quite clearly seeped into my brain. However since having Evie motherhood has taught me to trust myself, believe in myself and have confidence in myself.
Don’t get me wrong I still suffer from anxiety especially when I have to get a train (I will be there half an hour before it leaves), or when I have to make an important phone call I still get sweaty palms and I still tell Danny we need to ring 111 immediately when Evie is upset because my brain literally goes 800 miles an hour (turns out she just needed a huge shit). But this is so much more manageable than it used to be! I used to hate answering the phone FULL STOP (awks when you work in accounts payable) or I would absolutely detest getting up in a room full of people (nearly pissed myself in meetings more times than I’d like to admit). Now I’m just that tiny little bit (and I mean teeny tiny) more sure of myself which helps me to be less anxious and not question myself as much. I’m not saying motherhood cures anxiety (no no no motherhood makes you think crazy shiz you never thought was possible) but what I am saying is is believing in yourself a little bit more, loving yourself a little bit more and surrounding yourself with positive people a LOT more can do nothing but help your mental health.