If you asked me a few years ago what my thoughts were about awareness days, I probably would have told you that they were a waste of time. And if I’m honest, some of them still are. I mean I don’t think we really need a Richter Scale Day. Perhaps I’m missing something on that one, but some of these days have gotten a little silly. But right now there’s a very important one going on, and that’s World Maternal Mental Health Week.
Why Maternal Mental Health Week is So Important
For me, Maternal Mental Health week is vital for those who have yet to say anything about their mental health condition. It’s not a week designed to help someone like myself, who’s already talked quite a lot about postnatal depression. But it’s for those who have felt, for whatever reason, that they don’t want to say anything. For those who have been silently suffering.
I’ve been there. I’ve been the person who hasn’t wanted to say anything. Not in person, not online, not anywhere. The only person who knew about my depression was my wife. I could never hide it from her even if I wanted to. But it’s a terrible idea anyway. Keeping everything shut in makes it all so much worse. It took me around seven years before I finally went to the doctor about depression. And that was only because my wife made me. If I had my time back again I would’ve spoken out so much sooner.
Keeping Things Shut In
I understand why people do it. For me I didn’t want people knowing what was going on with me on that much of a personal level. Which might be quite surprising considering what I’ve covered on this blog. And coming out and talking about depression is about as personal as it can get. I didn’t want anyone’s help. And I guess I just thought it wasn’t something anyone wanted to hear.
Telling people you’ve sat there crying for days, you’ve hated yourself, or that you’ve had moments where you haven’t even wanted to exist are extremely hard things to say. There’s a lot of stigma to saying things like that. There’s the idea that you’ll be judged. And when it comes to mental health as a parent, it’s all so much worse.
Painting the Perfect Picture as a Parent
I think now more than ever parents are under so much pressure to be the best parent humanly possible. There are so many people telling you the best way to raise children, what you should be doing and how you should be doing it.
In all honesty, I do like to read a lot of parenting books. I always want to consume as many perspectives and as much research as I can when it comes to raising children, and just for life in general. I think I do it because I took psychology and sociology in college and since then have had a big interest in social experiments and research. To me, it’s just fascinating. But that doesn’t mean I have to follow it all. Sometimes I’m happy just being there for Isabelle. For a lot of my early days with her that was enough on its own.
It’s incredibly hard being a parent as it is, without having to make everything look like it’s going perfectly. I hope that with this blog I’ve shown that sometimes being a parent is pretty shit. You have moments where you just think your baby is a bit of a dick. I’m perfectly fine with showing that I’m not always a good dad. Because I’m not.
I’m equally happy saying I’m not always a good husband. I think that’s just life. No one is perfect, and I don’t think anyone should pretend that they are.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with striving to be better. I want to be the best dad I can be to Isabelle. But I’m ok with accepting that sometimes I’m not having a great day and I just have to get through it and be better another time.
Get Involved with Maternal Mental Health Week
You don’t have to have suffered with any mental health condition in order to get involved with this years Maternal Mental Health Awareness week. People are doing a #ShoutieSelfie with the idea that they’re shouting for those mothers (and perhaps fathers) who can’t be heard. My guess is that people are actually just opening their mouths and taking a photo. I’m not sure they’re actually shouting, but that’s just me being mildly facetious. I haven’t actually done one of these myself, but I did get Isabelle to do one:
So she suddenly decided she’d give it her best shot. Not a bad effort!
This type of thing used to flare up my #PND – now I like to see the funny side.
I love this girl! pic.twitter.com/zKfQQ0dAHp
— Ross (@isablogUK) April 30, 2018
Ok you caught me. She’s totally unaware that I’m taking a photo for #ShoutieSelfie. But there’s no denying the fact that she’s shouting!
But this photo is a great example of my journey as a parent. Something like this moment would’ve stressed me out in the past. Isabelle throwing a tantrum and screaming would lead to a massive headache and had me annoyed for several hours.
These days? Well I just try and embrace it and enjoy the moment in some weird way. I just have to do whatever I can to help her out and find the funny side. I really do try to absorb myself in all the moments you get as a parent. Whether that’s the annoying screaming fits whilst doing the shopping or the loving moments where you get a beaming smile at 5:30 in the morning. Obviously I would prefer all good moments, but I know that’s never going to happen.
Hopefully This Week Can Help a Few People
I guess we have to accept the fact that life is always full of ups and downs. To me this week is about giving people a voice when they’re in the down part of that journey. It’s about giving them somewhere to turn to when things are bad and they need a lift. Everyone has a different thing that helps them out of a bad place. But opening up and talking about what’s going on is usually the best place to start. If this week can do that for a few more people then that’s an amazing thing!