"My mother suffered terrible post-natal depression (PND). She finally shot herself in front of me and my sister one day in our home. I was three and a half, my sister a baby."
My mother suffered terrible post-natal depression (PND). She finally shot herself in front of me and my sister one day in our home. I was three and a half, my sister a baby.
This incident became a major part of my identity growing up. Yet, despite being acutely aware of how PND had effected my own mother, I didn’t realise I was suffering post-natal depression myself after the birth of my son. It crept up on me. I had also been involved in a serious car accident a few years earlier, a car had slammed into my stationary car at full speed and completely spun my car in the other direction into oncoming traffic. Thankfully no one was seriously hurt, however the post trauma of this event now came back to exacerbate the situation.
I wasn’t myself. I would have panic attacks over near misses while driving, where I couldn’t breathe or concentrate. I started having panic attacks just leaving the house, so I wouldn’t want to leave or see anyone. I just felt safer with my new baby boy in my own home.
As a way of trying to remain in a positive headspace, I started designing and writing inspiring quotes and sharing them online. I had always felt that my calling on this earth, my purpose, was to help others, to inspire and lead to wellbeing and life fulfilment. Designing these messages, which would evolve into the network of women Inspiring Mums, was a way of maintaining a creative outlet. Sharing these messages with this growing online community kept that feeling of purpose flickering alive, whilst in every other regard, I was feeling lost. I felt overwhelmed but still wanted to stay connected with likeminded people, especially mums, even if that was simply online.
My partner felt helpless and encouraged me to seek help. I saw a psychologist who encouraged me to leave the house for a short time each week. We then increased the outings to twice a week for longer each time. I would go to the shops, parks, beach and play centres to meet other mums. Soon I didn’t feel so alone. This was very helpful and I soon, slowly, started leaving the house more, meeting friends to the point where I was able to get back into life again. Still… something was missing. I still felt I had lost the woman I once was.
"I made the decision that I no longer want to be married to my partner of 16 years."
It was at this point, 2015, that my marriage really started to deteriorate. For a long time I wanted to lay blame and point the finger over whose fault this was, however, I’ve come appreciate that there is more than one person in a relationship. It takes two people to make a marriage work and, to be honest, neither of us did a great job at it. I’m a vivacious extrovert, a socialite who likes people, who will go on an adventure at the drop of a hat, try something new, be daring and risk taking. My partner? He’s very quiet and private, the complete opposite of me.
There was a lack of communication. Lack of emotional connection. Lack of physical connection. Lack of everything really. Then add alcohol and anger to the home and it changes your world in more ways than one… When I was excited about sharing my successes with what I did, I felt I was met with disapproval, debate or simply shunned. I craved affection. My apparently flourishing and thriving outside and online social world was in stark contrast to my home life, where I closed up and let myself become a puppet.
2016 commenced and our amazing son, who is now 5, was diagnosed with Autism. He’s very funny, cheeky and loving. The diagnosis was a relief. I felt validated after so many years knowing there was something different about his behaviours, social interaction, learning and emotional wellbeing, but being told I was over parenting him. I had being caring for him, and loving him, just as he needed to be loved and cared for.
That year, I made the decision that I no longer want to be married to my partner of 16 years. I will not profess to be the perfect wife, mother or person. I’m flawed and have insecurities. I can be emotional and I know I’ve made a million stupid decisions and mistakes. But I’m not a bad person either, I would never do anything intentionally hurt someone physically or emotionally. At the end of the day, we were not right for each other, and we weren’t able to make it work.
I felt validated after so many years knowing there was something different about his behaviours, social interaction, learning and emotional wellbeing, but being told I was over parenting him.
After the kids and I moved away, I embarked on a journey to reveal the woman I really am, with all my bells, whistles. The woman I had kept suppressed for many years.
I wanted to find a new avenue to explore, something that would help with my wellbeing. I chose bodybuilding. Within a few months, I competed in my first bodybuilding fitness competition, taking 3rd place in over 35’s Swimsuit model division. Training for that competition gave me a goal to reach for and to focus on whilst going through the separation. Standing proudly on stage was a physical and metaphorical baring all to the world. I was out of my cocoon, raw and real with nothing hidden. I literally stripped to the bare minimum and revealed what I was capable of. I came out of that competition empowered and in better mental health than I had been in for years.
In stepping up, I have faced fears, naysayers, obstacles and bared all. Peers and loved ones have bared witness to who I had been hiding for so long. Who I had almost forgotten I was. I am truly happy to have found myself again, to be authentically, unashamedly me.
The last 18 months have been the most challenging of my life, but I am proud of myself and us as a separated family. We have peace. We co-parent as amicably as possible, and the kids are happy.
Before I am a Mother, Wife, Partner, Carer, Employee or Business Person…
With my own hope and dreams…
With my own needs and desires…
With my own friends and family…
With my own ideas and creativity…
With my own interests and hobbies...
I am a woman.