I felt completely overwhelmed. The appointments, the follow-ups, the forms. I felt that the colour was starting to drain out of life and everything was in black and white. It was an odd feeling, and one which I knew wasn’t right.
The appointments and meetings, especially with nursery, were so negative. Always focusing on what Anna couldn’t do. I wanted to shout all the things that are so wonderful about Anna, but I was drowning in worry and trying to decipher jargon, whilst trying to carry on as normal.
I would lay awake in bed every night fretting and running round in circles in my head everything that could or would happen. When I woke up in the morning, ridiculously early and unable to get back to sleep I felt exhausted, but there would be a few seconds before I remembered and I’d suddenly get a lurching feeling of dread when reality kicked in.
I looked like an extra from the Walking Dead and I started to feel like I was losing my grip on rational thought. So I booked an appointment to go and see my doctor; she was very understanding and offered something to help me sleep. There was, if I felt I needed it, something to boost me up. For me I felt if I crossed that line, I’d have difficulty coming back from it. So instead, I decided to give myself two weeks, to do what I could to bring myself out of the black hole I’d started to fall in to.
If you’ve ever experienced the black dog then you’ll know what I mean; it started by just sort of being in the same room as me. Then it started weaving in and out of my legs like a cat does, except it’s a lot heavier and bigger than a cat. Sometimes it would lean against me and other days it would sit across my shoulders and make getting out of bed harder than I could’ve ever imagined.
You see, in the days we live in now, and especially with the advent of social media, everyone appears to live in a near perfect world and because of the constant advice, the truth is, these days, I don’t necessarily think mothers are encouraged to follow their gut instinct. We’re bombarded by what should be happening at what time and when to panic if it isn’t from before our babies are even born and I believe that social media has a huge part to play in this.
When I look at some of the posts on social media, they paint the most amazing picture of a perfect family life, with perfect children, but I don’t think most people’s lives are like that. Maybe I should break that trend and post things how they actually are; ‘I’ve just changed my third pooey nappy of the day and a bit went on the carpet because I couldn’t find the changing mat. I also can’t find the door key either, so effectively we’re locked in right now and I had to shout through the letterbox to the postman to leave the package he was trying to deliver in the recycling bin. We’ve got ants in the kitchen and as it’s been such a bonkers day the children are eating fromage frais that went out of date yesterday as I haven’t been able to make it to the shops because I can’t find the keys. Or my sanity’.
So you see sometimes I feel we’ve lost all sense of reality, we’re comparing ourselves to these ridiculous profiles of perfect, unrealistic, lives and so when things aren’t going as we’d planned we’re less likely to seek help as we’d don’t want to be the one who feels like they’re failing, when in reality we’re not, we just need a bit of encouragement.
So I was on a mission to find a way to shake off the negativity that had started to shroud me and find the positivity, enthusiasm and determination that I have lived by. And then suddenly I remembered … a few weeks before, whilst watching the London Marathon, a ticker tape across the bottom of the screen said ‘best wishes to all our runners today, from Run Mummy Run’. I googled it and found the group on Facebook. It’s like a virtual running group of 28,000 women, and there was some great advice for beginners. I read some great tips that people had posted, set my alarm for 6am the following day, found my trainers (I say find, I did almost have to get a search party out to locate them) and downloaded the C25K app on my phone (Couch to 5K) in 8 weeks.
The following morning, I was up before everybody else and creeping about like Father Christmas. That first run almost killed me. I mean literally speaking, my legs were tingling and I was convinced an alien would burst out my chest any moment; my heart was beating so fast. But I did it. I completed the first run, I say run, you walk for most of it, but that is the beauty of the C25K app; you’re covering a fair amount of ground and don’t even realise it.
I couldn’t believe that, I, someone who never does any exercise was actually able to run and it felt great. It clears my head, makes me focus on what’s important and it’s better than a bottle of wine a night and costs nothing. It’s actually addictive and completely alters my mind set. It’s definitely helped me shake of the black dog. But the girls spur me on, even on the hardest and darkest of days, because I know they are watching me and are very in tune with how I feel, so I keep going, no matter how tired I am, I know a run will lift my spirits.
My body ached and for that first month I hurt in places I didn’t even know you could hurt. But bit by bit, the colour started to appear in the world again. I started to notice the small things again and I felt good.
I realised that for the previous 6 weeks I had felt like I was under attack. My whole way of life was being threatened and the worry compounded to create one big head mess. Running helps me compartmentalise all the thoughts in my head, so my brain goes from being like a mushroom cloud to a neat little filing cabinet where I can open the drawers when I want to, or shut them and lock them when I don’t.
Whilst the challenging days, and the worry and the what ifs haven’t gone away, they’re certainly much easier to deal with now and a run really does make me feel free, confident and able to accomplish anything.
Now I’m running, I feel like I’m chasing the black dog, it’s not chasing me and it certainly doesn’t get the opportunity to sit on my shoulders anymore, it falls off when I’m running anyway.
I guess I feel a bit like Dory, except I’m running, not swimming.
Photo source: Pixabay