Since it’s Mental Health Week, I thought it was only fitting that I shared my story of the first time I went to ‘Mammy & Me’.
If you don’t already know me, I’m Chloe and I have a daughter Elsie-Rose who will be 2 in January. She has literally been the light of my life since she was born!
Before having Elsie I suffered awful with anxiety and panic attacks! I wasn’t able to be in big crowds, and I was getting depressed because of my own thoughts. It even got to the point where my hands would stiffen up and I couldn’t move them due to my anxiety, and there were times in work where I literally couldn’t even hear people’s food orders because the sounds just became muffled to me!
When Elsie was born she made me feel a lot better, I was having smaller panic attacks and my anxiety was getting better but was still clinically severe.
I never thought in my mind that I’d be able to go to a mother and baby group. To tell you the truth I used to lie and say I’d been to one to anyone who asked me, just so I didn’t look like a ‘selfish mother’ for putting my baby at a disadvantage by not allowing her to make friends because of MY anxiety.
It wasn’t until Elsie was around 5 months old that I plucked up the courage to go out and take her to a baby group. The only reason I did was because my friend Becky started ‘Mammy and Me’ and I wanted to support her by going.
At the time ‘Mammy and Me’ was in Porth, which wasn’t far from me, close enough to get to but far enough to have a mini panic attack and have about 1 million bad thoughts!
We set off to go and my heart raced from the moment I got in the car to the moment we got to the door of the Church. I had already had a mini panic attack in the car on the way and all I could think was “Who will I talk to?”, “What if they don’t like me?”, “What if I look stupid?”
I almost turned the car around at Porth bridge roundabout because I was that scared!
Looking back now I think I was being an idiot. Do mothers really judge if you haven’t got makeup on or if you have a ‘mam bun?’ HECK NO!
But at the time it was so daunting!!
I can remember going into the church breathless. Telling people that I was out of breath from walking, when really I just couldn’t catch my breath because that’s how scared I was!
I can remember sitting down with Elsie and the most kindest looking woman (one of the Aunties) came over and asked my name and Elsie’s and if I wanted a cup of tea! Which I said yes to without hesitating!! Cup of tea in hand I felt a bit less nervous and a lot less anxious. I calmed myself down and played with Elsie.
I have never been good at making conversations with people, I don’t know why, but literally I am the worst!!
But I pushed myself, I said hello to a group of girls I’d never met before who were there with their babies. And believe it or not, that same group of girls are now some of my closest friends!
I think as a mother ‘pushing yourself’ is something we have to do a lot!
Pushing yourself to get up at 2am for a night feed. Pushing yourself to take a bath when the dry shampoo just isn’t cutting it. Pushing yourself to go out and make new friends!
I found mother hood so lonely at first, but once I went to ‘Mammy & Me’ I realised I wasn’t alone!! All of these feelings I bottled up I was finally talking to other people who felt the exact same way!
It was so nice to have a bit of adult conversation other than raspberry blowing and ‘Peppa Pig’ and these girls made me feel so welcome that I kept going back! It was my new favourite day!
Me and Elsie got to get out of the house and go to ‘Mammy & Me’ where she could play, and I could talk. I could express how hard my week was, or how happy I was, and there were people who would just listen and do the same.
A year later the girls I met the first day are now girls I talk to daily. We tell each other what’s going on with us, how we are, ask advice, ask if they could help one another!
They have been the best support system through this rocky ride of motherhood and I think on times I would have been lost without them!
Which really makes me think of the people who still haven’t pushed themselves to go out with their baby yet, or try a baby group. (Preferably ‘Mammy & Me’ haha!!)
You should never feel guilty when you can’t quite pluck up the courage that week. But just keep pushing!! Because one week you will!! And the day you go is the day you’ll never look back! You’ll have adult conversation, 5 minutes from a nagging baby and some tea. Which is always a bonus.
I see people going to ‘Mammy & Me’ now with babies 5 months old and it brings so much lovely memories back of the hard times I went through to get to where I am now. The memories of the friends I have made for life and how happy it all made me.
I am so glad I did it! I think if I didn’t, I still could have been the same person I once was, the person who was scared to meet new people and had anxiety of big crowds, suffering in silence pretty much!
But I’m not that person anymore!! I have been free of panic attacks for about a year! Free of anxiety to the point it was interfering with my day to day life.
I’m surrounded with amazing, supportive women who I call friends all because I plucked up the courage to go to ‘Mammy & Me’ on that one rainy morning.
I’d just like to thank Becky, the Aunties and the Church, for the absolutely amazing effort they put into ‘Mammy & Me’. If it wasn’t for them I worry I wouldn’t have overcome my worst fears.
I’d also like to thank the girls who I met that day, and the days after for always being there when I need someone.
And most importantly. Elsie for making me a mammy to begin with, for pushing me to have the courage.
If anyone reads this and feels the same way I will always be happy to talk and help.
But please PUSH YOURSELF
It makes them rainy days brighter..