Thursday 16 April 2015

Inside the Head of this Stay-At-Home-Mum

Recently, I've been feeling extremely hormonal and just 'not quite right': ever have those times when you feel ever so slightly detached from reality? A little bit on auto-pilot? Have that underlying nervous feeling that won't go away? That's been me the past week and it is a familiar feeling I've had to watch out for over the years.

I've suffered on and off with bouts of depression and bad anxiety for about ten years now. Thankfully, I've finally gotten to the point where I can see the warning signs coming from a mile off and can take quick action to stop it in its tracks. In the past I've taken medication to help, but for the past four years I've managed without and continue to do so.

More often that not these days the bad feelings are solely due to hormones and I have learnt to accept how I feel in the moment, with the mantra "this too shall pass" in my head; and it always does. After a day or two I feel as right as rain and I wonder why I was ever fretting in the first place. For me, it's the fretting and the worrying that always sets off the vicious cycle from depression into anxiety: I'd feel low and depressed which would cause me to worry, I'd then worry so much that my anxiety would build and build until I had a full on panic attack: not nice! I'm pleased to say I feel much more in control of all that now and usually get to the root of the issue pretty quickly. I try to iron out the reasons I'm feeling low as soon as I identify them, which then helps me to feel calmer and more balanced. 

This week the heavy, sad feeling I'm carrying around is, I'm pretty sure, down to a culmination of things hitting me at once. My hormones are ALL OVER THE PLACE at the moment due to my contraceptive implant (I cannot WAIT to have it taken out soon - it's been nothing but trouble!). I'm also just feeling generally tired/run down/out of sorts and wondering whether that's being caused by a little virus perhaps? I also usually feel a bit rotten after a particularly busy social time: over Easter I had my mum, stepdad and sister all staying here - we had a week of great fun, I was busy looking after them all, cooking for them and playing the hostess (in my element!)...when they all went home, I felt a bit bereft, the sudden lack of adult company day to day felt really apparent, I felt lonely and if i'm honest, a little bit bored (there is only so much Peppa Pig this Mumma can take!) I know that after a week or so of it being Bert and I again, I'll be loving it, so for now I need to ride it out. 

I'm a natural born worrier, and so, our financial situation is always something that plays on my mind, particularly recently. Living on one wage is no easy feat, especially when that wage isn't huge and we have previously been used to living on two incomes. Like many families all over the UK, since I left my full time job to be a stay at home mum, we've had to majorly tighten our belts and continue to do so on what feels like a daily basis. 

I'm eBaying anything I can get my hands on, am shopping almost exclusively at Aldi for our groceries (which is saving us a fortune and is a really great shop), we buy our nappies/wipes in bulk on Amazon which also saves us money and I walk absolutely everywhere which means I never spend a single penny on public transport, which I'm pretty sure saves us hundreds of pounds a year! I try really hard to be sensible with my purchases, I try to re-coup money I spend on myself (such as craft supplies, clothes etc) by selling old things on eBay, and we don't plan on going on holiday this year as we just can't afford it. 

We're doing our best to be sensible with the money we have, we are not frivolous, and so we aren't in any debt except our mortgage and use of our overdraft, its not dire straights, and I have to keep telling myself that: we are luckier than lots of people financially, and I know that it would do me good to not concentrate on what we haven't got, but be thankful for what we have. As my mum always says 'things will work themselves out in the wash'...I'm trying to mostly just see everything in perspective, and not let the worry run away with me. We will be okay and I will find some way of bringing a regular income in soon, I'm sure. 

Part of me is so mad with 'the system' that I can't "just" stay at home and be a mum while my children are small, it is such a small number of years out of work in the grand scheme of things, I'm gutted that instead of completely immersing myself in my lovely family, I find myself constantly worrying about finances. I hate that we're having to be crazily careful with our money and go without the luxuries we had become used to, and that I'm always on the look out for a way of earning that will mean I can be at home with Bert each day. I genuinely wouldn't want to be anywhere else, and I will not compromise on this vital time with my little boy. Perhaps that makes me a dreamer, or an idealist, but I know I will never ever get this time back, and I also know that on my death-bed I will never be saying "I wish I'd worked more when my kids were small".

I am now searching for evening/night shift work, hoping I can find something for 2-3 nights a week, to supplement our income. In truth, I'm cross/sad/annoyed that I need to even think about this: the thought of looking after Bert all day, followed by a night of working fills me with dread, but if that's what I need to do, then I will. I might be bloody exhausted in the process, but as I said earlier "this too shall pass" and it won't be forever. 

Conversely, I don't want to wish away a single second of the time when my child(ren) are small, I want to enjoy every second of it, not battle through it. I know that burying my head in the sand and wishing for a lottery win, or that my husband earned more, really won't help or change anything: so, instead I need to be proactive, pragmatic and realistic (and try not to worry myself silly in the process!)

One of the hardest things to get used to as a stay at home mum for me has been the guilt I feel for not earning, but still spending. My sensible, balanced side tells me not to be stupid, that I do a vital job in our house by looking after Bert full time, doing the majority of the running of the house (housework, washing, food shopping, cooking, organising etc) and that I shouldn't feel remotely guilty about the money I spend. The anxious, less confident side of myself feels constantly guilty, I feel I have to explain every single purchase and then make the money back on any 'treat spends' either through eBaying stuff, or through my blog etc. My husband doesn't ever say a word to make me feel like this, it is all internal and honestly, I'm driving myself round the bend! 

I guess this latest bout of worry has been spurred on by our recent decision to try for a second baby soon. We decided that money shouldn't be a reason not to expand our family, that we'd 'manage' somehow because we really, really want another baby. I know deep down that we absolutely will manage, but it doesn't stop me worrying about it in the meantime. 

I'm pretty sure I'm not the only SAHM out there feeling like this? And I'm trying very hard to be thankful for all the amazing and wonderful things in my life, as there are so many. Today, I am infinitely happier than I have ever been, despite this undercurrent of worry. I have never loved a job more than being Bert's mummy and I see it as a testament to how wonderful he is how determined I am to stay at home full time until he's at school. I will make sacrifices and will try not to moan about them (I promise!), we will continue to be very careful with what money we do have and all will be well. We're sensible people, Liam and I, our heads aren't in the clouds and we generally live within our means, we will continue to make wise choices, and hope for the best. 

What I now need to get in check is not letting this undercurrent of worry take over my head space and affect my mood as badly as it has been this week. I need to get on top of it, before it gets on top of me. I need some perspective. I need to remind myself of how lucky I am, try hard not to look too far ahead (as thats when I start to blind panic!) and just take each day as it comes. We never know what's around the next corner, and I want to continue to be the ultimately positive, uplifting, glass-half-full woman that I think I am most of the time. This tired, worn down, grumpy Mumma, is NOT who I want to be. It's only been a week of feeling like this, and I can feel the downward spiral lurking already - I MUST put a stop to it here and now. 

I'm very much hoping that the removal of my implant (soon) will have a big affect on how I feel day to day, and will get my body and cycle back to normal as it really has been all over the place since I had it fitted. 

The things us women have to deal with hey! 

Onwards, and upwards. 

And I promise to bring you a much happier, less moany Mrs B in my next post! 

Mrs B