Guest Blog By ‘L’ – Writer wishes to remain anonymous. This post is to reach out to any mums who have experienced motherhood triggers.
Before I begin my story….
This was supposed to be a blog post about having my daughter at the age of 20, but without explaining the deeper background it’s going to be almost null and void. My daughter was born when I was 20, this was 2011. Facebook was pretty much the only social media around.
I felt alone and one of a kind. The birth of my daughter was a huge trigger event, unresolved trauma resurfaced from my teen years. Looking back I’m really not surprised as it was only a few years prior I’d had a life changing period of time. Sadly, I was terrified to take her outside. Or let her be around other people. Let me take you back, and explain why.
This is scary for me now to write, it’s something that I’ve buried for a long time and most of my closest friends have no idea. It’s something my parents never talked about with me, my school never offered additional support and really, I suppose I was encouraged to act like it never happened so really it was a recipe for disaster and inevitably was going to surface.
Let me take you back to 2007. I was 15 years old.
I’d always known I’d had some form of mental health condition, my brain segregated me in social situations, I’d always felt this emptiness and loneliness. I’d always felt my sexuality was a darker place for exploration and I’d never understood the taboo and shame that came with sex and sexuality.
Boredom as a teenager was dangerous for me, longing for a sense of importance, attention and adulthood. I registered myself on an escorting website and met with men for sex, pretending to be an 18-year-old university student.
There, I said it for what it was. I’m ready for the judgement. I met a few gross men but I really just wanted someone to see regularly. Someone I could see for companionship, somebody who understood me and respected me but most of all, accepted all the quirks of my personality.
I certainly found that soon enough. He was in his 40’s at the time. Let’s call him Rob. He was married, he understood that there was a part of me that wanted to explore sex and sexuality further. I told him my true age; he didn’t mind.
I thought I was lucky. He understood me. I felt blessed he didn’t mind. So it continued. For a long time. His house, hotels, and other people were introduced to our sexual relationship (male and female) and eventually my parents twigged something wasn’t right.
When it all started unravelling I didn’t know how to approach, deal or live with the situation…
I took an overdose to cover up telling my parents what had been happening. Eventually I told the one person who I’d felt understood my emotions on some level, my nan.
After speaking to her, the next stage was inevitable; Police, hospital and time off school. I felt like I should be ashamed of what had happened. To this day I still maintain that all that happened is my fault.
Times were different then, I got the choice of pressing charges or not, obviously being absolutely infatuated with Rob I decided not to press charges. I couldn’t do that to him when he had done nothing wrong. It was all my fault.
Nobody thought to offer me therapy or counselling during this time. Well, maybe they did and my parents had decided I didn’t need it? I’m not sure. But I often wonder if I’d have had this sort of treatment at the time, the specialists may have found out sooner that my strong, rapid emotional fluctuations and feelings were down to Borderline Personality Disorder.
Rob got back in touch with me regularly. To this day he still manages to get back in touch, in some way or another when I think has gone.
Fast Forward to 2011…
My beautiful baby daughter was born. I’d put all that had happened behind me and to me, it was the past. Except it very much consumed me. I thought keeping my house immaculate and chores always completed made me a good mum.
I struggled to leave the house, to be in public, to be outside and around people, particularly men. I didn’t want any older men looking at my daughter, being near her etc.
Their potential thoughts scared me so much. Smells, like the smell of red wine caused me to have panic attacks – sweaty, tight chested and heart palpitations. Sheer panic of my baby girl being in danger around dangerous men would be a very common occurrence.
To this day, Annie Lennox is a trigger for me as Rob always played Annie Lennox. In fact, I listened to Annie Lennox writing this to feel and live it.
What I did to try and overcome these intrusive thoughts….
I tried ‘safer’ spaces such as mother and baby groups but I found that being the youngest mum in a room was not easy. I felt like taking her into a shop with the buggy was a burden as it took up space, navigating the buggy in small spaces made me feel that we were in the way. It was easier to stay home. I’d felt judged for being 20, for not having my own career first, for not doing what everyone else my age was doing.
One time I visited the hospital with my daughter for a hearing test and it was hammering rain. I’d planned every minute detail before leaving to ease my anxiety but when we got there I realised I’d forgotten the rain cover! I felt like the worst mum and cried throughout her whole hearing test.
I felt like I couldn’t be her mum, when I could barely keep it together myself. Nobody stopped to tell me it was okay to forget things, or that it was okay to cry or worry when you’re a mum. Nobody told me that every new mum has these feelings. Nobody was there, period. I just wanted someone to just be with me. But they weren’t. Now I’m crying while writing this.
It took 6 years to finally get the right help I needed for my mental health…
When I visited the doctors they instantly gave me anti-depressants; Sertraline, Citalopram, Mirtazapine and it took so long to get the therapy I needed also. It was all so confusing.
It took 6 years of medication, trying therapy, CBT, anxiety, major depressive disorder diagnosis to feel like I still had something else wrong. That empty, loneliness still burned and I still felt different from everybody else. My emotions processed differently.
Finally, I decided to visit a private psychiatrist who diagnosed me with borderline personality disorder. This then meant that I would be given a mood stabiliser and a change in antidepressant to Venlafaxine. He told me to have patience and to give them time.
My life now, in 2021…
Two years and with another baby and one kitten later, I can say that I finally feel stable-ish. The most stable I’ve felt my whole life. But with this new stabilisation, comes self care and I’m at a point in my life where I am done pretending like any of the above didn’t happen and writing this guest blog is the first step of many that I am wishing to make in doing this. Small steps lead to bigger leaps.
My advice to anyone in a similar situation…
My point is, it’s so scary for younger parents – just asking for help or understanding how to begin looking after their own mental wellbeing or bodies, let alone looking after a small person. In my honest opinion, love, your attention and cuddles are all your children really need.
Anything that makes you feel alone or not welcome is not worth your time and energy. I’ve written this guest blog post in the hope that if anybody has experienced motherhood triggers or any of the issues I’ve mentioned above and needs a friend, they can find me via Lynne, The Swan Effect Mum’s blog owner. She knows who I am and will pass on any messages, so please reach out if any of what I have written resonates with you on any level. I’m here. Motherhood is hard. Well, actually it’s another level of hard, but you are not alone.
Please get in touch…
If you would like to speak to ‘L’ about any of the issues raised in this post or if you have experienced motherhood triggers then please message Lynne ‘The Swan Effect Mum’ via email: firstname.lastname@example.org /, directly via this website or her Instagram, Twitter or Facebook accounts. As ‘L’ says, you are not alone and there will never be any judgement from me so if you too would like to write a guest post for this blog then please do get in touch. You never know who is reading and how many others you may help today, just by sharing your story.