Many of us understand as mums and as people, we tend to put others needs above our own. We care about our loved ones and how they are coping and this last week I hit a point where I realised I needed to take care of me. I had put myself last and to continue, I needed to start putting myself as a priority.
The circumstances around what places stress in people’s lives and how difficult things can be sometimes are varying and completely up to the person. We all have different reasons for what upsets us, makes us happy or sad and we have varying degrees of what pushes us to our limits. The last few weeks have been some of the toughest I have come across in a while and I found myself suffering from anxiety and stress on a level I had never felt before. It was consuming, I was a different person and I found it hard to break out of. I became aware that it was vital that I started looking after me and stepping back a notch if that was at all possible. I have had anxious moments but not chunks of time where I have constantly felt like that.
We have been talking about making changes in our family and our lifestyle for years and this week that change happened. We have talked about it, dreamt about it, imagined it so I thought I was as ready for it as I could be. I had focused on the kids and made sure that they were okay with it. If you talk about something for long enough then you are surely ready for the change right? I have talked about feeling down before but this was something I hadn’t experienced before.
The weekend we moved ended up with loads of surprises and it wasn’t as smooth as we thought. My mother was also in the hospital and sick and I wanted to visit with the children as much as we could and make sure she was okay. I wanted to make sure that while my beautiful husband kept our business going, I had the house under control, the move would be seamless, the kids would settle easily and everything would be smooth. It was incredibly stressful and it wasn’t smooth at all, no matter how ready we were. A series of events meant that the weekend was all over the place and an endless amount of obstacles popped up along the way. Together we tackled each obstacle as best we could and kept plugging away.
By early the following week we had moved and it hit me. We have moved to a different way of life. We are on 5 acres and in a rural setting. I don’t know how anything works in the house. We have a dam that needs attention and maintenance and there are things around the property and in the house that need fixing. Nothing familiar is around me. The last 8 years of comfort and routine have disappeared out the window. I was trying to get to the hospital to visit my mother and I found myself stressing about things that probably other people don’t worry about but they were niggling at me more than they should have. Fears were developing about trivial and small things.
Our second morning in the house, I woke up with an idea of how it was all going to go that morning. First morning back at school and an agenda for the day. I had everything organised in my mind and woke and had a coffee with the husband before he jetted off to work. I had a huge list of things on my to-do list and they were swimming around in my brain at a million miles an hour.
I started getting my son ready for school and I started having this weird deja vu experience. I thought I had been here before. This overwhelming feeling came over me that felt like a drug was taking over my body. I needed to breathe quite deeply as the feeling was quite overwhelming and even my son asked if I was okay. It was taking over me and consuming me physically and mentally.
I took a moment and left the room and became quite disoriented in the house and found it hard to piece things together. I had never felt like this before and wondered if I was losing my mind. Events over the last few days were entering my mind and I couldn’t work out if they had happened or if I had dreamt it. I was completely overwhelmed and I needed to sit for a minute and take a breath. I texted my husband and he called me straight away. He was so understanding and told me to breathe and said that I was probably having some sort of anxiety and stress-related attack.
I think I had been so busy focusing on how everyone else was going to cope with the move and holding the front at home while my husband held the business together that I forgot about how I was feeling about uprooting our lives and moving to a completely different way of life as well as all the other things going on in our life too. Don’t get me wrong, I am in love with where we are and don’t regret it for a second but I was completely and utterly overwhelmed. And then I felt silly. There are people in the world with real problems! Real issues and I felt like my problems or issues were not valid or worthy of being so stressed. But stress and anxiety do not discriminate. They can hit anyone at any time, even people who think they are mentally tough and can cope with anything.
Throughout this week I have had some more of these moments as well as many little ones and I realised that I needed to step back and take care of myself in what is a huge emotional upheaval. I found in these moments that I became completely and utterly overwhelmed with everything the first thing to do was to breathe. Slow down and breathe. I also needed to step back and stop allowing all the millions of thoughts racing through my brain continue. I needed to remove myself and concentrate on something out the window, or a random thought that would bring me out of the overwhelming thoughts and feelings.
I found writing a list of the things swimming around in my head helped as well. I wrote down all the things that I was overwhelmed by and got them all onto paper. That way I knew that I would be able to work through the list, not in any particular order at this stage but they were all doable and achievable things.
I also found realising that I had to take one day at a time and sometimes one hour at a time and just take baby steps through each moment so that I just focused on the task at hand and not allow too much to enter my mind. Focusing on just one task made it easier and the anxiety wasn’t as overwhelming.
I found moving and doing something helpful too. I wasn’t in a place to go and exercise to clear my mind as I had to get the kids to school but I did two walks around the property using my breathing to help get the oxygen through me and it did make me feel better.
Some moments I found I could not let it go and just had to ride it out. I had to just feel tense, stressed and anxious all day and just get on with it but I can’t be like that always. That is no good for anyone.
It made me realise that no matter what is in our lives or how simple we think something is that feeling of stress and anxiety can be very real for many people and can hit you like a tonne of bricks at any moment during the day. It is important that as our lives get busier and busier and are filled with more and more children, friends, work commitments, financial commitments and all the other things that pop up in our lives, that we take time to think about our own mental and physical well-being and for some people it also means getting more help than just a walk around the block. It has really knocked me around and I still feel slightly consumed by these feelings. I have been different with the kids, not laughing as much and being more serious and more concerned. I need to find ways to manage how I am feeling and start looking after myself because otherwise, I am no good to anyone. And talking about it helps.
For the mums out there that feel these feelings regularly and feel weighed down with fear, anxiety and stress look after yourself and take care of you. We are all balancing everything and sometimes the string is finer than we realise. I’ve got this and I know that you do too xxxx