I felt like I was going to slip in to the role of motherhood so easily and that every moment would be filled with fulfilment and love for what I was doing. I thought that I was going to be this ‘earth mother’ where everything would come so naturally to me. Before I had children, I would look at mothers in the shopping centre carpark screaming at their kids and I’d think, I will never do that.
It wasn’t long, however, before all the expectations that I’d set up for myself were shattered to a degree I’d never imagined. What I thought would be an incredibly joyful time in my life turned in to one of the darkest. I was punching my brick walls with anger as I went up the stairs of our home to settle my baby after trying to get her to sleep. I’ll never forget seeing my oldest daughter’s face looking at me in terror as I was screaming in a fit of rage. I would look down, out the window from my bedroom, and think about throwing my baby out when she wouldn’t stop crying. I had a daily voice in my head saying, “I’m going to kill myself, I’m going to kill myself…”
Photo cred: Tanya Lake
I was so ashamed at myself and so alone. I knew I should be so grateful for all that I had. I felt like if I admitted something was really wrong, if I allowed myself to be real with my friends, family and fellow mothers, that they would tell me that I had nothing to complain about and think I was a selfish, terrible mother.
When I finally went to see my doctor, I expected her to tell me this was all in my head and I needed to get over it (what I had been telling myself). Instead she gave me treatment options for post-natal depression and before I left, put her hand on mine and said, “You know how when you get on the plane and they tell you to put on your oxygen mask first before assisting others? That’s what you have to do.”
Arriving back to an empty house, knowing I only had a few minutes until my family charged in the door, I sat on the end of my bed and it hit me that I had been so focused on making sure that everyone else’s needs were taken care of that I’d forgotten to take care of myself. But what could I do? I had no time, energy or spare cash. What could my version of an oxygen mask be?…
Part 2 to follow…