The Words We Struggle to Say
I caught up with a friend recently, and after greeting each other, she asked how I was.
“I’m good,” I said, “how are you?”
I knew it was a lie, but it was easy, and what a kill-joy I’d have been to start our catch up on a low. We started chatting and ordered coffees.
“Are you ok?” my friend asked, “you don’t seem yourself.”
“Actually,” I admitted, “I’m not that great.”
They were the words we all struggle to say, and I finally said them to someone.
I’m not ok.
I’m having a sh*t week.
Maybe it’s more than just a bad week, though.
Maybe you’ve felt crap for longer. Maybe you’ve had a hard time, or maybe something just feels…off… and you can’t quite shake the heavy feelings.
The fact is, all mamas go through times where being a mama is just all crap and no glory. Sure, there are the precious moments and your heart is constantly bursting with love, but that doesn’t mean you don’t still consider putting your kid up for sale on ebay. Just as a joke…right…
And maybe, just maybe, there aren’t the feelings of bursting love or the precious moments you want to treasure forever.
Because there’s also this other fact out there that one in seven mamas experience Post Natal Depression (to varying extents). That means most of us will know one or more mamas struggling with PND - or might even be the one experiencing it ourselves. If you don’t think your mama friends have it, that doesn’t mean you’ve just got a really positive group of friends. It probably means your friend is very good at hiding it.
Thing is, it’s pretty hard to tell who is struggling. Because when we see each other, the hardest thing to say is the truth about how we’re feeling.
I’ve tried to think about why this might be. Maybe it’s because we don’t want to be judged or misunderstood. Maybe it’s the fact no one really asks how we’re doing. Maybe it’s because we don’t want to dwell in it or be the ‘downer’ in the group. Maybe we’re afraid of being a burden, or even of feeling like we’re letting someone down. Maybe it's because we think we should be happy and grateful all the time. But I think maybe it also comes down to just not knowing how to say it.
How do you put words to the feelings and thoughts?
How do you stop smiling and putting on a good face when the moment you do so, all that’s inside might rush out and overtake you?
How do you say the things that might once and for all label you as what you’re afraid in your heart could be true - that you’re a bad mum? (Not true, by the way.)
Mamas, it might not seem like it, in this success-driven, photo-happy world, but we all struggle and we all have thoughts and feelings we’re afraid to share.
Thing is, the best (and arguably, the only) way to get through is by telling someone - a friend, a family member, your doctor.
It’s quite simple, really. All you have to do is begin. And if that’s all you can do, that will be enough.
“Actually, I’m not that great.”