As mums we tend to put the needs of everybody else before ourselves. But sometimes, we NEED to put ourselves on top of the list for once.
In light of R U OK Day today, which is an annual day dedicated to remind people to ask family, friends and colleagues ‘R U OK?’, we’ve reached out to four brave mums from our Healthy Mummy community.
These mums have all not been feeling there best at some point and have kindly shared with what helped them stay connected, supported and in control.
Here’s what they had to say…
1. Brittany Carter used breathing techniques to help calm her thoughts
Brittany suffered heavily from postnatal depression after the birth of her now two year old.
“At first it was really hard to admit because nobody wants to say they cant bond properly with their child or that they don’t want to be in that situation anymore and my biggest thing I tell people looking back is that it isn’t as uncommon as we think,” she says.
“There are millions of mums with the same struggles so talk up and ask for help because there is so much love and support.”
On her worst days, Brittany says her brain would “play tricks on her”, until one day she woke up feeling totally “possessed” by horrible thoughts about herself and no longer felt like her.
What Brittany didn’t realise at the time was that she wasn’t the only person to feel these thoughts. When she found the courage to open up and talk about her feelings, that’s when she realised…she does in fact have the strength to change these negative thoughts.
“I never knew how common this was either until I talked about it. Breathing techniques and yoga really helped centre myself here,” she adds.
“I had no care for my appearance, no self care or self worth and that was the biggest thing I needed to retrain myself to do. To take time for me. Paint my nails, dye my hair, do my makeup and to take care of me.
“Ultimately, I am still medicated but with healthy eating and weight loss i’ve really been able to turn my thought process around to become a better mum and person.”
Brittany says she’s learning about herself as a person and doesn’t beat herself up for feeling how she did.
“I now love learning about myself as a mum, it brings me so much joy. It just took extra time,” she says.
“There’s definitely a great big sparkling light at the end of a very dark tunnel but just know you aren’t alone and that there is so much help around!”
They are designed to help reduce stress and improve mood among pregnant women and early mums, enhance your connection with self-care practices and really thrive through the transformation of motherhood.
2. Christie Plumridge credits eating well and exercising
Christie reveals she knew something wasn’t right when she struggled to bond with her girls.
“At 21 after I had my first baby girl nothing felt like I thought it would, people told me to expect this overwhelming love at first sight for this tiny human but I felt nothing at all,” she says.
Sadly, Christie was eventually diagnosed with severe postnatal depression which would later be diagnosed as bipolar disorder.
“I was placed on medication and both my pregnancies afterwards I had an amazing support network and a complete mental health care plan but still just felt like something wasn’t right. I struggled to bond with my girls and didn’t want to spend time with them.”
Christie says it wasn’t until her fourth daughter that she realised she needed to make a lifestyle change.
“I was on medication until I had my fourth daughter at age 32 and although I had had mental health care and medication I really didn’t know how to look after myself as well as my children,” she says.
“I didn’t eat well and hated exercise so I just put everything in to looking after my girls and always put me last.
“I started searching for ways to help mental health issues and diet and exercise kept popping up. I was already feeling so down and out about my weight and mental health so when The Healthy Mummy popped up I just knew this was going to be a lifestyle change for the better.”
Christie says she started with following the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge meal plan. She incorporated the Challenge exercises into her daily routine later on.
Following the Challenge, Christie lost 17 kilograms in 5 months. What’s more, she says she started to feel well enough to come off her medication, under her doctors supervision.
She was medication-free from November 2015 to January 2017.
“I stopped following the plans after a family tragedy and my mental health was really affected, so once again I started following the Challenge meal plans and exercises, and once again I came off the medication.
“I have learnt so much about my physical and mental health and not only do I benefit but my family and my girls do too!”
3. Laura Flanagan went straight to her health care professional for help
Laura says mums who are feeling down shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help.
“The biggest tip to looking after yourself when struggling with any form of mental illness is to go talk to a gp, don’t be afraid to ask for help,” she says.
“Don’t feel like a failure if exercise or healthy eating doesn’t ‘fix’ you. Going on medication helped me through postnatal depression and anxiety.”
Laura reveals the concept of medication terrified but it helped her feel better.
“Exercise and healthy eating play a great role in staying mentally strong when you’re not broken to begin with, it also plays a great role when you are getting proper help,” she says.
“It isn’t always a magic fix though and sometimes you need medical help and there is no shame in that at all.”
4. Rebecca Garofoletti leaned on The Healthy Mummy community for support
Rebecca says after giving birth to her daughter she suffered post natal anxiety and it effected every aspect of her life.
“I refused to leave the house, I literally felt trapped by my emotions,” she admits.
“It was only when my child health nurse asked me how I was going finally one day I decided to open up about my struggle with anxiety which was a flow of effect from a difficult journey to conceive through IVF and a traumatic birth.”
Rebecca received help and they taught me methods for de-stressing.
“When I again suffered anxiety, perinatal anxiety through out my second pregnancy, I saw the signs straight away that I was going down the rabbit hole,” she says.
“Deep meditative music and concentrating on the healthy baby in my belly and the positive things happening in my life and simply breathing grounded me and pulled the reigns back in. During my postnatal period in the last 10 months since the birth of my son I am pleased to say I haven’t had a resurgence of my postnatal anxiety.”
Rebecca reveals she relied on the support from The Healthy Mummy community to get her through.
“The difference for me this time was that I had The Healthy Mummy community on my side and the right tools,” she says.
“The 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge took away the stress of meal planning and eating healthy which was a major trigger for me and exercising has kept my head clear and focused.
“It’s so important to find a small amount of time for yourself every day to find your centre and keep yourself grounded. If you do not look after yourself, it’s impossible to look after those around you.“
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us ladies. We’re glad you’ve all reached out for help and are feeling better within yourselves.
If you feel depressed or are suffering from depression and or anxiety, we advise you to seek help from your GP or call Lifeline 13 11 14, Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia [PANDA] 1300 726 306 or Beyond Blue 1300 22 46 36.
If you are looking for extra support – join The Healthy Mummy’s New Mum Support Group
When women support each other incredible things happen. With over 600,000 like-minded mums who can offer daily support to the Healthy Mummy members our social foot print is LARGE! All our private groups are moderated every hour by our professional staff, to ensure a safe and non-judgemental environment.
Becoming a mum – especially of the first time – can be an exciting, daunting, confusing and interesting experience. You certainly step into a whole new world – that often feels a whole lot unfamiliar.
Breastfeeding, formula, dummies, cots, postnatal depression, mastitis, baby health and development – there are so many things to know and understand.
If you are a new mum wanting to connect with other new mums, ask questions and share your own experiences – you should join The Healthy Mummy’s New Mum’s Facebook Private Support Group.
For more on our community, click here.