This post is one I’ve been meaning to write for a few weeks, but I’ve not found the time till now, and that’s kind of what it’s about: overwhelm, sometimes to the point of burnout. Essentially, a lack of self-care. I suspect there are many women out there just like me, and after watching one of them pour out her heart on Instagram Stories recently (which I never watch or create myself by the way – I know, bad blogger), I decided it was the prompt I needed.
So here’s the thing; over many years we’ve had it drummed into us – even if only subliminally – that as females we’re never going to compete with men; we’re not capable or worthy, blah, blah, BLAH. And so we tend to go one of two ways: being the good wife and mother and accepting that’s enough, or working our ass off to prove society wrong. (And our brothers perhaps. No? Just me then.)
I’ve always wanted to have my own business and I tried my hand at a couple of ridiculous side hustles before I found blogging. Nothing ever quite fit and without a doubt it’s because my enthusiasm was about being autonomously successful, rather than for the business itself:
Before I found my vocation, I was putting desperation over talent.
Cringey but true. I was very naive and kept hoping that my willingness to work hard was enough to make me money so I could quit the day job I both hated and resented.
I’m amazed it took me so long to find blogging, but though I was aware of its existence and coveted the role for myself, it seemed like too much effort around a full-time job.
Turns out I had no idea. Which was to be my saving grace, in a way.
Quitting the Rat Race for the Rugrats
I’ve always loved writing and once I finally began my blog I uncovered a passion like I’ve never before known. It started out as a bit of an experiment and it’s grown and grown into what it is today.
I am Kate: blogger. I am equally Mummy: blogger, wife: blogger, and friend: blogger.
I feel strongly that every facet of my persona is part blogger; without it I’d lose my identity. Which is kind of crazy given that it’s been what I do for a relatively short time. But yes, ’tis true: before I found blogging I felt a bit ‘lost’. I’ve never fitted in before, and now for the first time in my life, I do.
After I had Pixie who is now nearly three, I found myself quickly descending into a downward spiral. I had dreadful anxiety and one of the ways I combat that is by reminding myself of the good things in my life. I practise techniques which over time have changed my whole mindset to a more positive outlook. And there’s another, arguably less healthy way I fight those demons too: I lose myself in my work.
They say the devil makes work for idle hands; in my case – and I’ll bet many others’ – the devil makes work for idle minds.
Choosing Overwhelm and Reclaiming My Mental Health
In those early days with Pixie when my anxiety was at an unsustainably high level – one which left me judged as neurotic and paranoid – I was least agitated when I was safely cocooned at home. I would close myself away with my baby girl and feel my anxiety ease a little. But with only a crying baby for company I would also feel isolated and lonely. It was a dangerous spiral into despair which I found difficult to break.
When I started blogging I was so hermetic I had no interest in forming any kind of relationship with other bloggers online. In the event, they’ve been a lifeline. I found my tribe who also turned out to be my village. And I got myself well again.
I love my girls with a fierceness I couldn’t have comprehended before I had children of my own. But that does not negate my need for mental stimulation to balance the ennui of parenting little people.
Blogging has given me purpose on those days I would otherwise not have got out of my dressing gown (admittedly I can actually blog whilst in my jammies, which I say is a bonus, but you know what I mean).
My blog gave me back my sanity when I was losing it incrementally, bit by bit after Pixie’s arrival. It’s given me something to focus on; it’s forced me to stretch myself and use my brain; it’s encouraged me not to give in because of the tiredness and tedium, but instead to crack on in spite of it: I have to be on the ball out of a necessity to function on a higher level than merely existing.
But what this means is that I no longer know how to just be. I find it nigh on impossible to relax and I can’t switch off. That’s partly the nature of being self-employed, but more so the nature of blogging.
Now, I’m mother to two wonderful little girls – one of whom is just twelve weeks old as I write – and already I’ve broken my promise to myself to take a step back from the blog during my maternity leave. I scheduled lots of posts in advance to give myself a couple of months at least doing the bare minimum. Two weeks I lasted, before business resumed as normal. Oops.
When I should be taking it easy during these precious early days, I find myself unable to slow down for fear of the demons returning. Instead I take care of myself as best I can whilst also burning the candle at both ends: I work too hard and I don’t sleep nearly enough, but I try to counter that with herbal tea and exercise! I also practice gratitude and mindfulness which are hugely beneficial for my mental health.
Ultimately, as a person who is susceptible to depression and anxiety, I actively choose the overwhelm of unceasing work to keep my tired brain active, rather than the alternative.
Does this sound familiar to you? Are you content being Mummy and focusing all your energy and attention on your babies? Or do you too find yourself balancing precariously between depression and overwhelm?