If you’ve been anywhere near a mum blogger’s Instagram over the past few weeks you will have noticed a trend. Not the yellow dress from M&S, not flamingos, not even empowering slogan tees. No the trend that is filling all of our timelines is one that will hopefully be a bit more resilient than some fad – body positivity.
[Trigger warning for suicidal thoughts]
If, like me, your social media feeds have been full of ‘shouty selfies’ (my opinion on selfies for ‘awareness’ is for another post, another day) and incredible stories of brave women overcoming PND you’ll be aware that this week is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week. Something that I (obviously) feel very strongly about and am 100% behind.
However when it came to sitting down and thinking about my own input into the conversation I found myself a bit lost. I didn’t know at all where to start.
Some of you might have the pleasure of watching me talk shite on Instagram stories on a regular basis, others of you might believe you have more important things to do with your lives (you’re wrong). Those of you that do may have seen my little rant about creams and oils aimed at pregnant bellies, and the negative marketing that they use. Well I’m still going on about it because, honestly, it really got me fired up.
I am not good at celebrating myself. At all.
The idea of throwing a party in the name of me fills me with absolute dread. Because surely nobody else really gives a shit?!
Birthdays come down to ‘I’m going to this pub, come if you want, or don’t, whatever’ and I don’t think I could so much as dream of actually throwing a wedding and I definitely couldn’t have a hen.
Yet I love, love, love organising this stuff for other people! Give me half a chance to organise your hen party, birthday, or even just work’s leaving drinks and I will be snapping at you ankles like a Chihuahua on heat.
If you’ve ever been pregnant, looked at a parenting blog, read anything, anywhere about growing and pushing out a baby, or just paid attention to the press surrounding childbirth and postnatal experiences you’ll have heard about postnatal depression (PND) or postpartum depression (PPD). It’s discussed a lot. As it should be! Awareness and understanding are essential for people to feel safe discussing their own experience with mental illness and seek help. There’s been another big push on PND awareness recently, with Chrissy Teigen’s amazing open letter about her experiences (which is incredible and spot on and so honest and everybody really should read it) to the recent surge in reporting of the 1 in 10 statistic. PND is having a moment, a moment I wish had happened before the birth of my daughter, it would have made things much easier and I would have gotten help much sooner than 12 months postpartum.
That statistic, however, is the same during pregnancy. 1 in 10 pregnant women will experience depression during their pregnancy. The same amount of women and yet we’re still not talking about it.
Today has been a really shit day.
It’s been one of those days where my child has been an arsehole at every turn and I’ve run out of ways to try and discipline her. It’s been one of those days where I’ve totally questioned my ability to parent and therefore have been sent into a spiral of self-hate and my little ball of anxiety has burst.
Crying on her bedroom floor while trying to change her bedding was probably the lowest point.
It’s one of those days that no Instagram filter could fit and there’s no way of trying to make it look perfect, but also why should I? Why do we feel the need to hide the bits of parenting that hurt and are exhausting and leave you feeling like a shit? It’s the reality. We share everything else so why not this? So I am sharing it, lucky you, you get to read my woes.
Each body is different.
Each body is a map of where the owner has been. Routes taken. Shortcuts gone wrong.
Each body is a book. Chapter after chapter of tales of life.
My body is no different.
My body tells a story.
Of highs and lows.
Of ups and downs.
Of good and bad.
Of pleasure and pain.
Of life. In all its real, awful, hideous, beautiful forms.
Each inch a different chapter, marked and scarred and freckled with life.
2016 is the year of body confidence. Every other Buzzfeed post is celebrating bodies, no matter what shape or size and parenting blogs everywhere are giving thousands of words to the Amazonian power that giving birth to a child makes you feel. Stretch marks are tiger stripes. The loose skin on your stomach is just proof of what your body can do. Ruined boobs mean you gave your assets to feed your child. Flaws are no longer flaws, they’re something to celebrate and be proud of.
Except I can’t do that.
It’s been five years since I gave birth and I can’t look at the flaws on my body as something to be proud of. I look in the mirror and see a body that I don’t recognise, a body that I don’t want.