How my mental health has changed since becoming a parent.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always felt not quite right. When I was very young I was a very angry child, when I was a bit older I became very nervous and then I hit high school and puberty. I became even more angry, and those nerves became anxiety, and then I also began to experience extremely low moods which resulted in a lot of different things that I’m not proud of.

Thankfully when college came, the anger in me had died down significantly but the anxiety and the depression remained. However, I absolutely loved college and so I felt better for quite a while. It was when I started at my first job that it all got bad again. I’d had counselling at school and pretty much been told it was just puberty, but here I was, well past puberty and why wasn’t I better?

So I finally explained every thought and feeling to an amazing doctor who signed me off work, gave me a higher dose of anti depressants and referred me for CBT. This all helped, and along with finding myself an incredible therapist I genuinely started to feel better. However, after the breakdown of a relationship I did hit a wall for a while but since then I only have the occasional depressive episode and my anxiety tucks itself neatly at the back of my brain trying to get out as and when it can (which would happen a lot).

Then I found out I was pregnant, and I was so happy and excited to be a mum. Then the doubt and the overwhelming terror started creeping in… I couldn’t be a parent, I’m not mentally well enough, I don’t want my child to hate me, I can’t go through labour, I don’t know how I’ll cope. The anxiety was just too much to handle on some days, I would just lay on the floor and stare at the ceiling, wondering how the hell I was going to do this.

But I did, it wasn’t easy and it still isn’t easy. But since having Grayson it’s like something in me has clicked, I still have a lot of off days but he needs me and he loves me and I need to be the best version of myself for him. I’m not saying it’s as easy as just flipping a switch and going “oh, I’m happy now” because it definitely isn’t and I also know that not everyone will feel like this when they have kids. This is just how it’s worked for me personally, because it’s almost like my brain goes “Ashleigh, I know you’re anxious and I know you feel like shit and you just want to get into bed and never get out. But Grayson needs you right now”.

I feel like becoming a parent has helped my mental health massively, because although I feel shit someday I try my hardest to push past those feelings for Grayson. It isn’t easy, but I have to try.

I do plan on going back to therapy, but that’s more as a self care tool than anything. I want Grayson to grow up remembering me being happy and care free, I don’t want him remembering me being too anxious or too depressed to do things. I know I’ll probably live with my mental health issues for the rest of my life, but I plan to fight them as much as I can for my baby.