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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.

itchyandscratchy26 Sun 26-May-13 15:41:35

Really feel for you, and I think the fact that you've had no replies speaks volumes in itself. What I mean is that many mums put on a front of coping and wouldn't dare admit in public they struggle.Could it be that MN is no different in that respect. A lot of competitive parenting goes on out there and it can make you feel s**t when everyone else looks as if they have it sussed.
A good book about this is 'What Mothers Do'
I don't have the answers for you as I've not had mine yet. My twins are due for delivery this Tuesday, and I'm more petrified (of not coping) than excited.
All the best x

prissyenglisharriviste Sun 26-May-13 15:46:58

There are tons of stats about this, it's well known that mothers of young children have a higher likelihood of mental health issues (partially explained by PND etc but not in entirety).

But, y'know, people don't like to publicize it too much. A bit like mother and baby magazine running an article on SIDS. Or on birth hypoxia leading to disability etc.

It's all out there, but marketers and editors aren't going to be waving it under your nose as it doesn't suit their agenda (which is to keep you breeding and buying stuff ;-) )

SauceForTheGander Sun 26-May-13 15:53:48

There was an article on the telegraph yesterday by Allison Pearson along these lines. MH affecting three times as many women because of this?

PoppyWearer Sun 26-May-13 15:53:53

OP, are you taking any kind of contraceptive pill?

I felt really depressed earlier this year, felt I was going crazy. Went to see my GP expecting her to put me on anti-depressants and instead she suggested I come off the pill for six weeks and see how I felt then.

How I felt was like a new woman! I have tons more energy. It happened almost over night. I really am back to "normal" except maybe one day a month when PMT gets me.

Also don't overlook the effects of sleep deprivation, it's a form of torture after all.

flanbase Sun 26-May-13 15:57:33

It's the no let up and tiredness. I find that by keeping a grip on other stress helps me cope. It's hard work and I have my things to keep on top of such as the washing and clearing up. If I let this go it makes me feel like I have huge jobs to tackle (which I do). Being kind to yourself and making a moment even in the chaos to relax is important. Just having a sip of tea is calming

NutsinMay Sun 26-May-13 16:07:34

Thanks for the responses. I'm not on any form of pill though I breasfeed for yonks so that might have screwed my hormones.

I read "What Mothers Do" a long time ago. Thanks for the suggestion. Maybe it's worth revisiting(and good luck with the birth of your twins itchy. For what it's worth I love the baby stage though many people don't).

I've found things have got harder in many ways over the years but think that's because I'm older and more tired and both children are talking and making lots more noise (arguing) etc. They do play nicely at other times.

I do read lots of threads on MN about people finding parenting hard (even regretting their children) but irl when you are out and about parents seem a lot more groomed and less tired than me.

Obviously it's often easier when you are out and about. I certainly get much more tearful/irritable at home and rarely in public.

I always wonder if all the "together" parents are themselves on their knees by bedtime willing their children to go to sleep so they can collapse on the sofa!

I agree with you flanbase sometimes the washing up and washing can seem endless. For the first time in my life a dishwwasher seems desirable.

TeaCuresEverything Sun 26-May-13 16:31:47

Felt compelled to answer this one.

I wouldnt say that being a parent has created any MH issues, but it has DEFINITELY exacerbated the ones I already had, and yet also healed others iyswim?
I was very depressed before I had my ds. Couldn't really see the point in much. Having ds has not cured it, but he has given me a reason, a point, in my life. And when I'm having a down day, it only takes one "I love you mummy" or feeling his little arms around my neck, and I'm smiling again.

However. I have emetophobia (fear of vomiting) and all the anxiety and worries that goes with that, and having my ds has made this 1000 times worse. But I don't regret him for a second. All parents worry more after dc's, and have more anxiety. You want to protect them from all the horrible things in the world, and you can't. Its enough to make anyone anxious.

Parenthood is HARD. Its without a doubt the hardest thing I've ever done. And I just have the one. I don't know how people manage with more than that! Its relentless, and can be a pretty thankless task. But those moments when they say something really cute, or do something that makes you melt - it makes it all worth it for me.

The other day ds says to me 'I love you mummy. Your my best and best!"

Made me well up. Parenthood its the single best and worst thing ever in different ways smile

maristella Sun 26-May-13 16:35:54

Absolutely. I became a completely fearful person overnight after finding out I was pregnant. DS is now in his mid teens, and I am stuck in a somewhat fearful mindset, although it definitely eased off bit by bit after he was a few months old smile

Pfaffer Sun 26-May-13 16:43:28

Oh god yes, it has affected my mental health.
I have issues from when I was a child (abandonment mostly) which I find have got much worse since becoming a parent. Prior to that, when it was MEMEME I could cope fine because I was strong. I think I lost my strength somewhere.
Also, there's the intensity of the bond. Probably because of the above, I do find it stifling at times and then at others I find it the loveliest thing ever. I'm not able to feel the same thing consistently though, and this is hard to smooth over internally.
Most of this wasn't applicable during the baby stage, I found the intensity of the talking during the toddler stage became far too much at times. SOmetimes I think I am badly formed as a parent but I muddle along.

Octopus37 Sun 26-May-13 17:03:30

Yes, definatey. I have two DS's aged 3 and 6 and find it incredibly hard. I work part time (self-employed mainly from home) and my youngest DS goes to nursery four mornings a week. I find that the lack of peace and quiet, constant interruptions and the mess threaten to push me over the edge sometimes. I can be very ratty and occasionally smack which I'm not proud of. For me, I think my hormones might be contributing and I have made a docs appointment for the week after next. I have days where I have thoughts such as"if my DH and I got divorced, he could have custody of the kids cause I can't do it anymore". By the way I love my boys dearly, but sometimes worry tha that there will be nothing left when the boys grow up. Also tbh really do not like the 3 year old stage, tantrums, demands so hard. Think on balance it is better to keep talking about it, have a good friend who used to work in mental health and has suffered badly from PND twice and it had been good to air my concerns. I think the biggest thing we all need to do it to keep talking.

Longdistance Sun 26-May-13 17:07:21

I know what you mean about getting anxious. I wish I was working though, rather than a sahm. Just general day to day stuff, like safety. If I forget something, it plays on my mind 'what am I going to do?' Just worry about lots of things. I don't sleep properly, and haven't done since dd1 was born. Sometimes get up in the night and stay up for a bit, worrying, and then go back to bed. Luckily dh gives dd's breakfast.
I'm not the woman I used to be.

amothersplaceisinthewrong Sun 26-May-13 17:18:55

The hardest year of my life ever ever ever was the first year of two children (two years apart). One child was a breeze - two was at least three times the work. DS hated DD on sight from birth and could not be left alone in the room with her at all - I had to sit behind a stairgate to feed her as he would hit her over the head whilst she was feeding otherwise. (DS was later diagnosed with ADHD/Oppositional behaviour) I had no family nearby and a DH who commuted and was out of the house from dawn til dusk. I honestly thought at one point I would "go under", and probably made some dreadful parenting decisions along the way.

BUT somehow I survived and fast forward, they are both grown ups and actually quite like each other now and are two young adults I am hugely proud of!!

Neither DH or I are "natural parents", and if we were starting out again maybe we would choose not to have children.

MrsHowardRoark Sun 26-May-13 17:29:33

Having my DD, although the best thing that's ever happened to me, has absolutely affected my mental health for the worse.

The sleep deprivation, the constant mess, the relentlessness of it all have eroded my patience. She is 18 months and a total sweetheart but I still find it all so hard. I don't think it's PND, more that it's really bloody hard looking after someone all the time.

I'm currently pregnant with no2 and I'm trying not to think about how much harder it will be with two.

I don't think I ever comprehended how my life wouldn't just change, it would be blown out of the water and replaced with a totally new one. This I have found immensely difficult.

chillinwithmyyonis Sun 26-May-13 17:37:12

For me its the overwhelming responsibility you have to keep them safe and happy, well fed, clean, its never ending and it does make me anxious.

My dc, 4 and 2, are good sleepers but they more than make up for it while theyre awake. My 4 yr old never, never stops talking, and is constantly asking what's the meaning of life type questions. My 2yr old has reached the tantrum and random whining stage. We've just tried to have a nice day out and it was like tantrum central, I did feel a bit jealous to see childless couples and old people enjoying their day without any whinging or drama.

TeWiSavesTheDay Sun 26-May-13 17:47:17

It's bought issues I already had to the surface I think.

But, generally, having small children (or difficult older ones) is hugely exhausting and difficult, and generally speaking women are expected to shoulder an awful lot of it.

recently my ILs took our kids for the weekend so we could get on with some work on our house. the jobs we were doing were exhausting, but DH and I both felt really well rested afterwards!

IrnBruTheNoo Sun 26-May-13 17:50:06

"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."

Bloody hell, are you me?! That's exactly what I was about to type more or less.

I am an emotional wreck since having DC and I'm actually surprised people are not more open about it. No one can possibly know for themselves what it's like until they've had DC for themselves. I knew it would be stressful but not as stressful as it is.

SoleSource Sun 26-May-13 17:54:24


So alone, unsupported, 'o sympathy or understanding when DS was blind.

DS has no speech and i can't socialise.with him because of his.Autism

I'm isolated and alone

I talk to myself

SoleSource Sun 26-May-13 17:57:28

And i am sick to death of his constant fuckin shitting.

hard smell to get off hands

But he is sweet, calm and loving

I feel i have coped by living in a fantasy world of another life

I've had to snap out of that one

FromGirders Sun 26-May-13 18:06:33

Taking some extra vitamins really helped me with the grinding tiredness. HV recommended B6, and I really notice it when I forget to take it for a while.
It gets easier as the kids get a bit older, a wee bit more independent and you can make them help with the washing up and the laundry.
Hang on in there!

Saski Sun 26-May-13 18:15:11

I spent a lot of my early mother days feeling very low. It's easy to underestimate how incredibly boring and stressful it can be.

When people say" I love every single minute of being a mommy" I am just incredulous.

MiniTheMinx Sun 26-May-13 18:16:05

I have often wondered if the "together parents" collapse in a heap too. Then I wonder if they think the same. How can you possibly know when there is so much pressure to get everything right. Even looking on line for kid's clothes, looking at images of smiling families on beach holidays and mums who are glowing with health and happiness can make me question if I could be doing more.

I don't think my mental health is worse but the issues are different. Before I was a fruit loop, emotional relationships with huge highs and terrible lows, too much partying combined with very long hours and not enough sleep. Whereas now I am calmer and more level, I am less creative, feel stuck, can't see a way ahead, less ambitious, less outgoing and think too many "what ifs" to make plans.

For me it's the huge compromises and changes and the feeling that I can't plan ahead. Everything I see myself doing, both before and after having DCs doesn't seem to involve them. Some days I find myself counting down not the hours but the days, years even. Although I wouldn't be without them and strangely find the more time I spend with them the more I enjoy them.

calypso2008 Sun 26-May-13 18:17:17

I am so glad you started this thread OP

I am blessed with the best DD you could hope for, but, as others have said, it has bought every single anxiety from before to the fore, plus some more hmm

I go to sleep and wake up in a panic all the time, wondering if I have missed school pick up, where DD is, if she is ok. Really mental behaviour. It is ususally 3am or something ridiculous. I worry, worry, worry.

On the surface, my life looks perfect. (apart from my husband and I separating, but that has nothing to do with the child worry - his absolute lack of help and living in his country and not mine may have contributed though)

In reality, I have not been relaxed for 5 years.

I used to be the most confident and successful person ever. I have lost all confidence and sense of self.

In short - you are not alone!

Oblomov Sun 26-May-13 18:30:22

I totally understand. I think this is something that experts just don't want to write about.
I had no/minimal MH issues pre children. Come from totally living family and had never been depressed.

One was hard. Two, I find hard to cope with. I fought to get ds1 diagnosed autistic. Nightmare. Ds2 is totally different - a loud handful. I am a diabetic, and that has gone mad. I am tired and have no sexdrive. My consultant and gp have tried, but are clueless.
I love my husband so much and am astonished that my marriage has survived.

Lionessy Sun 26-May-13 18:35:55

Yes, it has turned me into a complete neurotic mess but having a child die at birth and almost losing another to an undiagnosed illness can have that effect so I am told.

I have 4 of the buggers now. All drive me insane but they are loved endlessly. The twins almost finished me off I have to say!

Currently I am in a complete meltdown because DH had taken the younger 3 swimming and then to the park and they are not back yet. All sorts of horrific things have been running through my head - that the 2 year old has been abducted, that they have had a car crash etc all because bloody 'H' has forgotten his phone! DD is currently out with friends and should be back by 7pm but I also worry that something terrible may happen to her. Dinner is getting cold and I am in panic mode sad.

I am probably an extreme case as my childhood was also horrible and my need to protect my DCs is very strong but yes, I would say being a parent has driven me nuts grin. I was a very together, confident person before I had them but I suppose I would rather be like this and have them than be the person I used to be in a weird kind of way!

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