The best journeys answer questions that in the beginning you didn’t think to ask.
I have been sat pondering for a while on how to write my first blog post. Where do you start? How do you get across years of experiences, emotions, feelings and knowledge? How do you decide what to write about first? How can you transfer your personality through words on a page?
I probably over thought the whole thing like much of the things I do in life, I like to have a plan and I like to tick off lists. I am a slight perfectionist and I am happy with this. So for me perhaps my first blog post should start at the beginning.
One of my biggest struggles in life is being a Mum. The quest to be the ‘perfect’ Mum. For me though, it took a long time to become a Mum and even longer to begin to feel like a Mum – I mean how do you define being a Mum?
In 2012 after a year of being married and several years of talking about children we decided to venture down the path of adoption. The process was long, self exposing and an emotional rollercoaster. We had to try and absorb so much knowledge in such a short space of time it was incredibly overwhelming.
Then in 2013 we had our son placed with us at the age of 10 months. He was a gorgeous, happy and content baby. He had a few wobbles as was expected – waking at night crying even though he had slept through at the foster carers. Went off of his food even though he was a good eater. All the usual expectations of a child being placed in a new environment. We felt prepared for this though and had tools for coping. As time went on the stranger we had brought home began to become more familiar. Then my husband went back to work…
I found it incredibly hard to transition to being a Mum. I was a very sociable person and had worked in a very busy environment. I was at home alone. I had not had an opportunity to meet other parents with children/babies of a similar age. I had friends in fellow prospective adopters that we had met at different courses but they had either not yet had children placed or had children placed at different ages with different needs.
I began to become isolated in my own home. I started to clean – in a bid to break up the day or keep me busy whilst my son napped. However this soon became obsessive and I began to be ritualistic in my routine. We went out twice a day – to walk the dog and to go to the park. I didn’t talk to anyone there for fear of questioning. I had been advised by my Health Visitor to go to groups and meet other Mums. I went to a few, feeling like a complete outsider. Not yet feeling like a Mum defined.
I felt tired and exhausted all of the time. Tearful for no reason – crying for hours when my son was in bed at the end of the day. I felt like not only a failure to myself but a failure to my family, my son and social services. I had been selected for this job and I had failed. I had no idea why I felt like this as surely we had what we had strived and worked so hard for?
In January 2014 I eventually went to seek help from the GP and was diagnosed with depression. A few weeks later I was diagnosed with high levels of anxiety and depression and commenced counselling. Several months later I was diagnosed with Post Adoption Depression – something I didn’t even know existed. I had no knowledge of this prior – no mention of it in any of the prospective adopters courses we went on. No one stressed the importance of self care or feeling like your world has not only been flipped upside down but also put through a blender.
Now in 2018 I look back on those days and feel residual shame and embarrassment and this makes me angry.
Angry that I should still feel like this.
Angry that it could have been prevented.
Angry that there are still so many adoptive families being failed and parents suffering with PAD’s.
So now I am on a mission.
To raise awareness in the adoption community.
To raise awareness and understanding in professionals that surround adoptive families.
To reduce the stigma around Post Adoption Depression and feeling like a failure.
I feel like I am beginning to own my past and shaking the shame and the colour Blue that washes over me when I talk about it to others. This shame I will always take with me and instead of holding me down it makes me stronger – it makes we want to push harder to ensure other families receive better services, particularly in those first few weeks and months of placement.
Hoping that with each day I become more Mum Defined.