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Has parenting affected your mental health?

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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.

I have just sat down and read this entire thread. My head is spinning, I have so much I want to say and so much admiration for everyone on here.

My DDs are now 9 and 7 and I finally now feel like I might possibly have some semblance of the old me back. But then again they both have iPods and kindles and nintendo DS things and have thousands more hours of screen time than they should so I'm probably still crap at being a mum. Keeps them quiet and squabble-free though.

I had crippling PND/anxiety with both of them. I honestly believe that if I had found Mumsnet, and especially a thread like this one, it would have been so much better.

I went back to work full time 3.5 years ago and that literally has saved me.

I was sectioned in 2008 for about 6-8 weeks (it's all incredibly hazy) and my illness forced DH to take charge of the house and DDs (who were 4 and 2 at the time) so I know on some level he "gets" it. Doesn't stop me from being the Family PA or the one In Charge all the time now though. I get incredibly irate at this and this thread has shown me I am not alone. We both have full time jobs FFS, why is it me who not only has to organise and remember the school play or concert or school trip that needs a packed lunch or one of the DDs needs picking up from a friend's but has to make sure DH has updated his own bloody diary. It is right there in the family calendar in plain sight for all to see, and yet if I don't remind him, he claims he doesn't know about it. angry

Badvoc Sat 22-Jun-13 16:43:44

HTD...that would piss me off too. I am a sahm but I know that If i was a wohm (from pre dc experience) I would still be doing everything.
Dh took on a new role at work about 18 months ago.
Means much more travel, he loves it and is no longer so stressed and unhappy.
So why do I resent it so much?
My ds2 starts school in August and I had been thinking about looking for work...Lowry tha nee to fit around the children, ideally term time only and will fit round Dhs job too...and in the middle of the worst recession in 100 years!
Sigh.
I also wish I had found mumsnet when pg...it would have made a huge difference to me - and to ds1.

Badvoc... Thanks... It is so helpful to know I'm not alone!

Incidentally my school is looking for a part-time (8.15 to 2.30) term-time only school nurse - so those positions do actually exist!

Campaspe Sat 22-Jun-13 18:27:22

Nuts In May/HTD - I could have written both of your posts. My DD is 6, and in some ways, it gets easier. Something I didn't anticipate was how much my happiness would be tied up with that of DD. If she is unhappy or worried, it drives me almost to despair...I seem to have a lot of problems staying detached.

I have to admit the physical demands get easier as DD gets older and slightly more independent in terms of self-care. However, I must admit to missing and resenting the lack of me-time.

What age does me-time realistically come back? When might I be able to expect a lie-in, a chance to sit in a cafe all afternoon without cashing in valuable babysitting chips, have an afternoon nap etc etc.

I think parenting has adversely affected my mental health and have spent most of DD's life on citalopram. Strange how at the same time the love you have for them is so visceral and intense that it makes it difficult to thing of anything but their wellbeing, at the same time as being desperate to think about anything other than parenting responsibilities!

Ledkr Sat 22-Jun-13 19:33:29

camp it comes back when they are more independent.
I've been there twice now and each time scuppered it by having another baby hmm
You get lie ins and time to yourself, works not so hard to get to and you can sit in cafes when they are at school.
You might even have shaven legs and nice hair again.
Imagine that grin

OddBodd Sat 22-Jun-13 19:56:59

Ohh Ledkr your last post just filled me with excitement....shaved legs!! Who'd have thought?!

I think I had just got to the point of having a tiny bit of me time when DS1 started full time school just after he turned 4 (he's an August baby so started full time in Reception in the September). I was working 20hours a week. He was settled at school and could dress/ toilet/ feed himself, entertain himself a little round the house. Then I had DS2 in the December. I had 2 months of life being pretty chilled and felt a little bit more back in control. DS2 rather threw a spanner in the works!

(disclaimer: DS2 was actually planned and is very much loved...he's just thrown me right back into the deep end and reminded me exactly how hard it was first time round!!!)

Ledkr Sat 22-Jun-13 21:02:32

I found out I was pg with dd2 and cried for two weeks shock
Dh had none of his own and I'd always felt a bit guilty (but not that guilty)
I just knew I didn't want to go back to nappies and night feeds and sodding babysitters.
And the thought of doing school runs and school business until I'm in my fifties fills me with horror.
I love my dd with a passion and she is amazing but god it's been a slog.
I held her last night in her white cotton pjs and her chubby little body made me want to cry.
But I'd still say its been very very hard and I'm glad we are on the home straight.

OddBodd Sat 22-Jun-13 22:17:53

I can understand you crying for 2 weeks Ledkr I'd be the same. I love how you describe her chubby little body! Aww I feel the same about DS1. I absolutely adore him. He is lovely and he makes me so proud every day....but my GOD it was hard work. DS2, I love him but it is just soooo much stress and work at the minute, I sometimes forget how beautiful and lovely he can be. He is definitely our last.

DH went for a vasectomy last December. I do feel lucky. We have 2 utterly gorgeous but high maintenance sons, who I'd never be without. BUT I really DON'T WANNA DO THIS AGAIN. EVER!!! The thought of ever getting pregnant again makes me feel queasy and ill which I know sounds awful.

My friend recently had a baby girl after 3 sons and keeps telling me I'll regret never 'trying for my girl'.... errrrm no! Everytime she starts on one of her rants about how her DP would never get a vasectomy because every child is a blessing, I just want to scream 'FUUUCCKK OFFFF!!!'. My children ARE a blessingm however hard I am finding it right now. They are no less of a blessing because they are male. Having a girl was HER dream, not mine. I just wanted 2 healthy babies. I got what I wanted (however much I moan about it now!) I also feel lucky that by the time I am 40, DS1 will be 18, DS2 will be 14 and most of the school shit will be behind us. NEVER EVER AGAIN.

Ledkr Sat 22-Jun-13 22:53:59

I had a girl after three boys and trust me its no different.
Still bloody hard.
My second and third boy were my fav babies. So laid back and easy.

PicturesofParadise Sat 22-Jun-13 23:12:12

My mental health problems started shortly after dd was born, ds was 20 months old and various health professionals were concerned about his development.
I was diagnosed with PND when dd was six weeks old just as ds started the diagnosis pathway for autism,
Ten years on and I am have just been prescribed a anti-psychotic for severe depression alongside another anti depressant.
I know my depression would lift if my beautiful ds no longer lived with us, in fact my GP and other health professionals have been saying this for years.
My ds is severely autistic, we are isolated, live in a community but cannot access it and services that have helped over the years, respite mainly are being decimated by cuts in funding.
We have no social life, the only friends I have are those who have children who are also disabled, who have their own battles and demons to face.
I adore my son, but recognise that without him I would have a good career, a social life. Whereas now just getting through each day is a battlefield.
I am a shadow of the person I used to be and there is no way of ever getting me back, whoever me is anyway?
It is depressing writing this but I just wanted to say how very much all that has been written on this thread has resonated with me, I have recently started to be kind to myself, it does help, really. Try and make sure you have even 5 minutes a day just to be you, whoever that maybe.

MacMac123 Sat 22-Jun-13 23:13:08

Just spent this evening crying (lights and shade, highs and lows!,!)
DH reckons I'm depressed, which I'm not. Just at a crossroads career wise and hardly have a second to think about it because of dS and Dd. I feel like (this will sound pathetic) everyone has great things going on except me (my DH has amazing new project at work. Super exciting. My brother has businesses that make him money while he becomes this fantastic stand up comedian (random but true!) and our best mate has suddenly become a partner in this Internet venture thats been valued at FIFTY MILLION.)
I meanwhile feel trapped, lost and sorry for myself. Which will probably get me nowhere!

OddBodd Sat 22-Jun-13 23:28:40

I am relieved but not surprised to read that! I don't know what my friend thinks I'm missing out on but I actually had no preference at all regarding their sex. I genuinely would have welcomed either with all my heart. I must admit, in a way, when they told me DS2 was a boy, I breathed a little sigh of relief but that was mainly because DS1 was so sure he was having a brother not a sister!

They're all bloody hard work. Unless you are lucky enough to have easy babies but even then I have no doubt that they don't stay easy forever! Parenting is such a long slog with so many hurdles. I just want to get to the point where I can actually enjoy them both and not be run ragged by the relentlessness.

My friend who has had her girl is all over the girl now. Not that she shuns the boys as such but it is very clear that having a 'princess' is something very special in their house. She really has made much more of a fuss over this baby than the other 3. Sharing pictures of her constantly, buying so much stuff for her. Just talking to her and everything is 'my little lady' this or 'our little princess' that. According to her 'Christmas will be perfect this year as we finally have a little girl in the house and girly toys' etc etc etc. Mind you, she is one of those annoying mums who actually does breeze through motherhood in a way I actually do envy. Nothing gets her down whereas I worry over everything and feel guilty constantly. Think that's just me though. Always worrying.

KingRollo Sun 23-Jun-13 06:49:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Badvoc Sun 23-Jun-13 08:27:19

Oddbodd...that exactly what I did!
Ds1 had just started reception when I got of with ds2 (planned)
So I have been dong this for a decade now.
And it has almost broken me.
Pictures...I am so sorry you feel so isolated. Are you a regular in the sn boards?

Ledkr Sun 23-Jun-13 08:57:43

pictures have you looked into respite?there is an organisation that provides it Called family link Where are you because it's not unheard of for other mn to offer help. I will help if I'm near you. I'm a child sw and ex psych nurse so I'd do my best.
My sil has a girl with ds and is also isolated and struggling.

odd I agree she sounds ridiculous and will land hard when she falls.
In my recent struggle I've met two women who in the surface are perfect and have it all. Once I've got speaking to them I realise they are just like me and struggling at times.
Your friend has made a classic mistake of placing too much onus on one thing that completes her life which sets her up nicely for huge disappointment.
Oh yes and I frigging hate Xmas even with my mixed sex family lol.

DogsAreEasierThanChildren Sun 23-Jun-13 09:10:04

YY to hating Xmas (and we don't even have a lot of family). So much stress and pressure, and my mother and MIL don't really get on with each other. Oddbodd, your friend sounds like very hard work. I think I might edge quietly away from someone who talked about her little princess - vom.

I've been mulling over some of the issues raised on this thread: would anyone mind if I started a separate thread on the Feminism/Women's rights chat board, rather than hijacking this one? I've been conscious as this thread has gone on that a lot of what people have said has been about their partners, not their children, which I find depressing but not surprising.

hettie Sun 23-Jun-13 09:31:04

To add to all the other's voices. I consider myself very resiliant, psychologically 'well' and I am very very fortunate to not be carrying very much baggage from my own childhood....All the things then that should have meant that having young children would be fine..... However, although I love my children I have not really loved being a parent all the time (one just at primary school, one about to start pre-school).It's definatley effected my mental health. There are times I have wanted to slither down the wall in tears of exhaustion, anger and frustration... My status and sense of self have taken something of a battering, it's a hard thankless task parenting and that takes its toll.
Interestingly I work as a mental health professional. In that role I know anecdotaly the negative effects of parenting and I really do think that unhelpful gender stereotypes/societal factors play a big role in this. There is also a good amount of research evidence that supports this. The truth is that the experiences described on this thread are in fact normal...(the myth that's presented by the media/glossy magazines is not)

Ledkr Sun 23-Jun-13 10:54:49

dogs I think it is partially a feminist issue especially as so many women are being prescribed anti depressants when all they need is support and understanding.
It needs to become the norm for fathers to be doing an equal share in raising their children especially as men have now been granted paternity leave rights.
My dh does childcare on my work days/his days off so is fully aware of the hard work and mental torture that being alone all day with a child can cause.
He therefore takes an equal share in raising our daughter.
As for all these guys who don't help at night because they work, well I work too and often have to manage it after a disturbed night. Not ideal but doable.
We need to stop putting blokes on pedestals and making childcare our sole responsibility.

Badvoc Sun 23-Jun-13 10:56:35

Hettie.
That's the issue isn't it?
I think how I feel - and how those on this thread feel - is the norm for most.
But to admit that...to admit that parenting is hard bloody slog that damages the main caregiver...it's still taboo isn't it?
All the bloody mags with their have it all super mums...except they're not.
They have a whole battery of staff to do what - in the normal non celeb world - usually 1 person does 24/7 365 days a year.

Ledkr Sun 23-Jun-13 11:11:08

We are nearing the end of the thread who is starting the new one and where shall we put it?
Need an anonymous title so we don't get flamed by the perfect mummies.

Mac mac I so emphasise with you. My brother has a job in consultancy in Saudi that will earn him 1.2 million over the next 2 years. His wife and children are moving out to live there for next few years. My sis in law will be on good salary tax free, my nephews are going to top private schools. I feel full of regret, that I fell pregnant at 20. I've been to Uni three times and just ended up with stressful job and crippled with mortgage for small house. Feel stuck, trapped, hate my life most of the time.
I feel as my 14 year old daughter is blossoming into beautiful young woman I withering away into middle aged nothingness! Feel exhausted with the demands of my 3.8 year old.
It's all too much at times. That time of the month for me which may explain my negativity!! hmm

MavisG Sun 23-Jun-13 11:55:32

I don't think an anonymous title for part 2 of this wonderful thread is a good idea - I'd prefer same title, Part II - but I don't believe in 'the perfect mummies'. I believe all or virtually all mothers and some fathers have felt or will feel the effects of parenting on their mental health, & think this and future threads could be enriched by more, not fewer, contributors.
You might look at me and think I don't struggle - I do the slinging/natural term bf/home schooling stuff that might mark me out as a glutton for punishment/'natural mother', whatever the fuck one of those is. All that means jack shit and is just window dressing - we all, as mothers in societies that can't see/appreciate/recognise how damaging/stressful/hard living a d parenting largely alone is, have far more in common than divides us.

Love this thread by the way. You're all champions.

MavisG Sun 23-Jun-13 11:56:33

I don't think an anonymous title for part 2 of this wonderful thread is a good idea - I'd prefer same title, Part II - but I don't believe in 'the perfect mummies'. I believe all or virtually all mothers and some fathers have felt or will feel the effects of parenting on their mental health, & think this and future threads could be enriched by more, not fewer, contributors.
You might look at me and think I don't struggle - I do the slinging/natural term bf/home schooling stuff that might mark me out as a glutton for punishment/'natural mother', whatever the fuck one of those is. All that means jack shit and is just window dressing - we all, as mothers in societies that can't see/appreciate/recognise how damaging/stressful/hard living a d parenting largely alone is, have far more in common than divides us.

Love this thread by the way. You're all champions.

MavisG Sun 23-Jun-13 11:57:17

Sorry. Tired.

Ledkr Sun 23-Jun-13 13:00:53

I could care less if its anonymous but others might do so speak up ladies.

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