Has parenting affected your mental health?

(1000 Posts)
NutsinMay Sun 26-May-13 15:13:52

There seems to be a lot of links about Mental Health affecting your ability to parent but nothing about parenting affecting your mental health(beyond post natal depression).

Yet although there have been times in my life when I've felt low, anxious, possibly more than that, I've never felt as anxious, stressed, neurotic, controlling, irritable, occasionally close to the edge as I have had since having children. I have no desire to have a relationship or go out (beyond doing stuff with the children as they are always much easier when out).

I do work part-time and that provides some relief but I wish weekends were something to look forward to like they used to be pre-children. Now they are the most tiring shifts of the week.

Having one was fine and didn't change me or my life that much (and I had a high needs baby) but having two for me is a whole another level.

I am tired very tired. I've not had an uninterupted night's sleep for about 5 years so I think that might be a major contributor but I find the fighting between siblings, the noise, the whining, the whinging- the demands of "mummy" shrieked in stereo are occasionally just too much to bear. I sobbed in front of them this morning because I just wanted them to leave each other alone. I sometimes fear picking up by daughter from school as I just don't the energy to cope with the afterschool grumpiness/meltdown/rudeness.

I know parenting isn't easy and I'm full of admiration for those who have more than two, do it alone or unsupported or have children with complex needs.

I do hear stories of women locking themselves in the bathroom to escape their kids and I know a lot of women got by on valium in the 70s and laudenum in the 1870s(or earlier) so I know it's not uncommon.

But I'm wondering why there isn't more written about this? Is the stress etc actually doing damage to my physical health? Is it normal? Does anyone else think they are going mad?

Thankfully, they are out with DP this afternoon as I've been on the go since 6.

mercury7 Mon 27-May-13 01:39:01

yes I found it very hard, I felt as if I had 2 millstones around my neck I felt panicky pretty much the whole time, the constant bickering was especially wearing.
They are grown up now and we all appear to have survived my woefully inadequate parenting.

From my current vantage point, if I could have my time again I'd not choose to be a parent, I'm dreading the possibility of grandchildren

mercury7 Mon 27-May-13 01:45:12

oh, I absolutely do love my children, i did my best for them but mostly it was pretty rubbish

MaMattoo Mon 27-May-13 05:42:51

Thanks for starting this one..
It has not just impacted my mental health, there is an impact on my relationship with DH, family, friends, career, how I view issues of health, patenting, diet, education. How I see myself, view my parents, fellow parents etc. we know that anxiety, tiredness and a complete lack of time have a roll on effect. But very few us have the mental bandwidth to remember it when we are in the middle of if. It's the relentlessness that gets me, when it does.
When we argue, DH tends to repeat that I am a 'different person' since baby. A pity that there is little I can show him to read/see that I am not alone. This thread might help..do thank you!

Emsmaman Mon 27-May-13 08:10:58

Thank you to everyone sharing their stories. I could write paragraphs but most has already been said. I have never been closer to depression than in the first year of dds life. I don't think I was, it was (is) sleep deprivation.

It is also massively upsetting when the one person you think you can rely on (dh) doesn't recognize what you need when you're at the lowest points.

I think there should be more discussion about effects of breastfeeding such as the lack of sex drive and what that does to a relationship, the utter utter dependency on the mum in the case of babies that don't take the bottle or dummy, the hideous sleeplessness of it all (I know that is not exclusive to breastfeeding but at least bottle can be shared between carers). I have never felt lonelier in my life than in the middle of the night feeding dd with dh snoring oblivious next to me.

LuubyLuu Mon 27-May-13 09:14:04

I share your pain, and have been where you are now.

I'd like to add that appearances can be deceptive.

The lowest I've ever been was when my 6 month old baby stopped sleeping, waking every 45 mins during the night, then up for the day at 5am every single night for 12 months, and then didn't sleep through the night til he was 4. I had no family, and had recently moved, so no friends either.

I don't need much sleep, but thought I was going to collapse with exhaustion. In fact I wished I could collapse somewhere, so that at least I could lie in a hospital bed and just sleep. I did start to go crazy and lost all perspective on things, with anger and irritation never far from the surface, with my boys and husband bearing the brunt of this. I went from being bright and confident to a lonely shell of a person.

However, when I left the house, I always dressed well, tried to look stylish, and wore make-up including lipstick. The outward appearance in hindsight was a control thing - I had zero control of what was happening at home, but could control my appearance (apart from the bags under my eyes!). I probably came across as calm and confident, lightheartly laughing off the tiredness and how I felt, because to be honest if I didn't laugh I would have cried and cried and cried.

I think for me personally, whilst I felt 1000x better when my DS did eventually start sleeping a bit, my mental state only got back to normal when I went back to work.

I think it's a massive shock for a lot of women to go from a busy buzzy work environment, working with mixed ages and sexes, having control of your workload, using your intellect and years of training to then being at home, mainly interacting with women from the same age as you in M&B groups, with the drudgery of endless meal preparation and clearing up to do and not much chance to use your brain. You get no praise for a job well done as a SAHP, no ticked off To Do list setting out your achievements when you finish your day at 5.30, and you have no control of how your day will evolve as it will be completely driven by small people and their moods, their teething, their lack of sleep.

But for me it did get better, 6 years on I am often knackered, have little time for myself, but am completely myself mentally. I'm sure, without sounding at all dismissive, that things will get better for you, and that 'this too shall pass'.

GhostOfTheRobot Mon 27-May-13 09:17:31

I have never felt lonelier in my life than in the middle of the night feeding dd with dh snoring oblivious next to me
^
This is the worst part for me. Sleep used to be about recharging my batteries & getting a break from my worries but this is when they come out with a vengeance. I now make sure I have my smartphone when I go to bed so I can read Mumsnet to distract myself.
This thread in particular has been so moving & kept me in mind of the fact I'm not the only one up in the night stressing.
I have such I cycle of guilt about so many things (anger at dh "cushy" part in this child raising lark, how his life hasn't changed & mine is unrecognisable, begrudging his freedom, having to live with the constant fecking mess in the house that I never get sorted, shouting at the kids) I sometimes do feel that I could pack a bag and run away. I just feel so inadequate but this is my issue...cue more guilt.
Where does it end? How people work full time and do this I don't know, I really don't, but like a lot of these situations you simply have to as there's no one else.

Wibblypiglikesbananas Mon 27-May-13 09:29:35

I've been thinking about this thread since I first posted last night.

There are so many low lying factors that annoy me at the moment, eg this morning, DH went in the shower and assumed that I would watch DD. Then I went in the shower, and he still assumed that I would watch DD. Cue DD trying to climb through the shower screen, nearly trapping her fingers - blah, blah, blah. All I wanted was 5 mins of peace, but no. It's tricky as DD is going through a clingy stage at the moment and sometimes just wants me - but sometimes I don't want to be wanted!!! Especially when DH gets in from work and I need a few mins to myself to regroup and she still wants me!!!

Sorry to moan - but another thing - why am I suddenly the responsible one when it comes to DD? Why am I the one responsible for where nappies are, if we've packed enough food for her, if her favourite teddy is in its rightful spot? Why do I have to remember friends' children's birthdays, sort family birthday presents and cards, remember injections, organise the Dr's and dentists' appointments? Since when did me giving birth simultaneously turn me into the family PA??

It is also massively upsetting when the one person you think you can rely on (dh) doesn't recognize what you need when you're at the lowest points

^

This is so true! DH and I generally have a good relationship, but why can't he see that no one can function on so little sleep?! There have been days when I've been ill, or up all night and barely able to function and I've begged him to take a day off work to help out. But no - I'll manage, apparently. And I agree, his job is important. But he can't seem to distinguish between the days when I'm tired in a normal sense, versus about to drop dead from freaking exhaustion. I'm only talking probably a maximum of three times in 18 months, but each incident has made me feel just that little bit less me and that little bit less respectful of him. It scares me that if I was at work, I could call in sick if I needed to. Now, I just have to keep on going - and going - and going.

Dozer Mon 27-May-13 09:30:06

IMO another problem that causes mental distress when DC arrive can be men who don't pull their weight with childcare and domestic work, who work all the time (when there're other options), have time-consuming hobbies, don't compromise their social lives and so on. I know several women with MH difficulties with partners like this, they are doing the lion's share of the hard work and have no time for themselves except late at night, which exacerbates sleep deprivation.

These friends, when struggling, berate themselves for "not coping" when (IMO) their situation is unequal and the problem is that their partners are not doing enough or supporting them sad.

I feel like you OP in that "everyone else" looks to be coping better, but suspect that feeling that way is a symptom of poor MH IYSWIM?

I can relate to so much of what was said on this thread. I was lucky enough to have great support and 2 sleepers but to say having DC exacerbated my anxiety is to understate.
I always worked part time and ended up having a total nervous breakdown trying to look as if it was all effortless hmm
Thankfully they grew up happy and healthy and since they turned 16 fairly self sufficient. I enjoy them now more than I ever did and am gutted that DD will be off in September.
My MH has improved accordingly and lie ins are a very regular feature of our lives grin

unapologetic Mon 27-May-13 09:36:24

I was thinking only this morning that I never felt anger or rage until I had children. I don't know where it comes from sometimes. Today it was simply the nagging for a certain kind of breakfast - why would that irritate me so much? I think it's the unrelentlessness of it all.

I find going to work really helps. Last week I didn't know how I was going to get there one day - my head was all over the place & I didn't think I could do it. At the end of the working day I felt normal again.

I have also been thinking about how it all affects us physically.

GhostOfTheRobot Mon 27-May-13 09:47:54

Oddly, as much as going back to work (and being in an adult environment) appeals I am absolutely terrified of doing it.
I just don't know why any one would employ me when I can't cope at home.

putyourhatonsweetie Mon 27-May-13 09:49:12

Thank you so much for starting this thread. Two children and an overseas move and I don't recognise myself any more.

I am permanently angry with dh, he says he loves me every day, but how can he when I am crying for help and he bimbles along regardless. he is extremely good with children and does his fair share, but I am screaming out for help and I feel like he is ignoring me.

Salbertina Mon 27-May-13 09:50:22

Where are you, Put? Are you a trailing spouse?

Chubfuddler Mon 27-May-13 09:56:08

Oh I agree with dozer. My STBXH was emotionally and physically absent, worked long hours, all encompassing interests which kept him out if the house, big show family activities at his demand plastered over FB to maintain his "good dad" credentials.

Now we have split he has the children 2 nights a week, looks after then extremely well. It makes me sad and a bit hmm that he couldn't have pulled his weight before now, but being a single parent is less stressful than doing everything whilst doing the dance of the seven veils around the moods of a grumpy fuckwit.

putyourhatonsweetie Mon 27-May-13 09:56:59

salbertina mmm trailing spouse (though I do work) in central queensland

Doubtitsomehow Mon 27-May-13 09:57:27

I think what all these stories show are:

-Don't believe anyone who makes it look easy, it is not
-A lot of us are or have been closer to the edge, due to the strain of parenting very young children, than we usually admit
-Having young kids magnifies any issue in our own MH or in our own childhoods, to the point where our current MH can be negatively affected
-The media give totally false images of what parenting, especially the parenting of young kids, is like.

I wish we all felt more able to be honest in RL, and not be judged for it. mN is great as an outlet, but I would like to feel the same degree of mutual support among acquaintances (friends are usually fine).

Chubfuddler Mon 27-May-13 10:00:35

I have started employing MN levels of honesty in RL and the amazing thing is 99% of women, once they have picked their jaws up off the floor, join in.

Wibblypiglikesbananas Mon 27-May-13 10:04:55

putyourhaton - I am also a trailing spouse right now and to be honest, sometimes find it hard to separate the issues. Do you find the same? We're here for DH's job, but his job/salary allows me to be a SAHM, which is what I (believed I) wanted. But being a SAHM can drive me mad at times and there's no chance of changing this for a good couple of years due to contracts, finances etc. At least if we'd been in the UK, I could have gone back to my old employer part time or had the capacity to change things somehow. It's like I'm doubly trapped!

Wibblypiglikesbananas Mon 27-May-13 10:08:33

And then, as I mentioned above, the guilt kicks in. Everyone tells me I'm lucky not to have to work - but I'm envious, in fact jealous, of DH going off to his nice office to have coffees made for him and being able to wear suits without jam stains and having time to think on his commute and finish a sentence without the next demand. I used to be like that too!!!

Salbertina Mon 27-May-13 10:09:02

Wibbly, am trailing too! Should feel grateful etc but also feel v trapped..

curryeater Mon 27-May-13 10:13:46

Wibblypig, YYYYY.

I love this site in some ways, but I think there is a weird gap in acknowledgement of the differing roles of men and women and the shittiness of the standard set up for women. There are many, many men who are not absusive, but who are not fair either, in fact I would say the majority. That is my opinion. When I express this on mn I either hear from mainstream (non feminist) women "well he's been at work all day, would you upset a relationship over a few pots" or from feminists (I count myself a feminist btw) "Normal men are not like this, relationships don't have to be like this, a man who is like this is abusive and you must ltb".

I screeched at dp once when he was pulling me up on being ratty and snappy about stuff that needed to be done "would you stand on a river bank berating a drowning person about their tone while they scream for you to throw the life ring? Would you watch them drown while you tell them they aren't speaking to you very nicely?" I don't know if he got it or not.

he broke up with me (for a couple of hours) because I was snappy with him on the worst "holiday" of my life and I was relieved. I was flooded with bliss. He stormed off with dd1 (10 months) and made plans for our separation in his self righteous injured head while I finished his pint and then strolled through the village alone, not having any idea whether I was single or what, not giving a shit, just blissed out at walking at my own pace, carrying very little, and looking in the shop windows I wanted to. When we met again at the cottage he said he was leaving me because I was horrible, and I said good because he would have dd1 some of the time without me running around smeared in milk and cream cheese and I was sure we could work out something amicable and I just wanted to go to bed and sleep. Somehow we stayed together.

On another camping "holiday" I was driving and had stuffed children's bedding between their two car seats and dp passed a sippy cup of water to the little one. "Get that cup back, or she will pour water all over the bedding" I said. We got there and I found he hadn't bothered, there she was holding an empty cup next to a pile of soggy bedding. I went absolutely postal. It was just the end for me. I realised how desperately alone and unsupported I was that I had to do EVERYTHING and when I couldn't physically do the thing - because I was driving - it just wouldn't get done and now I was going to have to find a way to dry the bedding before bed time. The thing that really did my head in about it was the casual way he ignored what I had said. He didn't argue or explain. he just thought "well she said that but it's easier for me to not bother so I won't". The way he just put himself above me just blew my mind. Realising that living with everybody's well being above mine, including the convenience of waitresses (yes another rant there) was just wearing me absolutely out.

I do not think my dp is an unusual almighty shit and actually is a lot nicer than any of my friend's husbands. But he just doesn't get it.

Emboldened by this thread I have started telling dd1 that we do not talk in "children's centre" voices at home. "Those voices are for people who have to control a lot of children in a large space. We don't need to talk like that at home."

Wibblypiglikesbananas Mon 27-May-13 10:15:09

Salbertina - I'm sorry you're in this position too! Do you find everyone thinks it sounds exciting and glamorous, when really you're just doing the same as you would have at home, except that everything's just that little bit harder as the systems aren't familiar?

And as time goes on, DH gets busier and busier with work, and I (unfairly) resent him more and more (in my head at least). His argument would be that he has to perform at his absolute best at work as that's why we're here, and I recognise there's a lot of pressure on him in terms of the move having been worthwhile. But, I do wonder how our lives would have been different if we'd stayed in the UK. Not just in terms of careers etc for both of us, but in terms of the opportunities there would have been for me, meaning that maybe (some days at least) I would have felt less like I was falling apart.

GhostOfTheRobot Mon 27-May-13 10:15:45

I have often fantasised about a drop-in, parent support group on a par with 'AA' or something where you could tell your troubles & be supported with professional advice. An unrushed, therapeutic session.

curryeater Mon 27-May-13 10:16:50

Wibbly, I meant your 9.29 post when I said YY - I am not "trailing" and I think that sounds very, very hard.

Salbertina Mon 27-May-13 10:17:08

Wibbly, absolutely! (See my thread re MIL telling me about my "blissful life")!

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