What is mental health?
Our mental health is our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Mental health can affect people in many different ways, shapes and forms; this is because everyone is unique. There are also many different mental health conditions in our world today such as anxiety, depression, and OCD to mention a few. Mental health conditions such as these are on a rise. In fact, did you know? 1 in 4 people experience mental health problems each year. Many people lose their jobs due to suffering from mental health conditions because companies cannot afford to keep them on as most people who suffer a mental health condition take a lot of time off to try and help with their conditions, but employers only allow so much time off for illnesses including mental health.
Is there support out there?
There are plenty of different ways to get support for mental health conditions, as well as different medications. A great form of support for mental health conditions is that there are different forms of counselling and therapies tailored to each individual that aim to get them the best possible support they need. There are also plenty of charities out there that do work surrounding mental health and helping people who suffer from mental health.
I'd like to give you an insight into how your mental health may be affected if you're a single mum and hopefully give you the support you need or want. I was only 19 when I got pregnant; still at university trying to set my future in place, with no idea about where my future was going to take me and honestly, I was lost. I didn't know where to go for advice, I didn't know what to do, and my partner at the time was adamant about me keeping the baby and went to such lengths to ensure that I did. Eventually, I couldn't take the stress and pain he was putting me through, so I left.
Then, I was left alone; What do I do? How can I do this alone? Will I be enough for my baby? As my pregnancy progressed, my mental health only got worse as I kept having these negative thoughts and anxieties until one day I finally snapped. I was crying on the floor not able to catch my breath and I knew I couldn't do this as I needed help. Yes, I have a supportive family, but I couldn't speak to them as I knew they wouldn't understand. But watching the pain in my mum's eyes as she saw her baby so broken on the floor wondering if she had a purpose in life anymore other than just being a mother was enough for me to at least speak to someone about how I was feeling. My midwife offered me some talking therapies and showed me some websites where I could go to talk about my struggles, but I still couldn't bring myself to commit to the therapies.
Fast forward to my baby being 6 months old and I still think motherhood is hard. It takes a toll on your mental health, you feel like everyone is judging you and you keep questioning yourself, am I being a good mum? Am I meant to do it like this? Why is that person staring? You doubt everything you do, and not only that, as a single mum, you feel so lonely that there's just you and your baby. You start to miss normal conversations, you feel isolated, you want a break, and you feel bad for wanting that break, but it's all normal, you're only human, and you need to take care of yourself too.
Small ways to improve your mental health as a single parent include going for a walk in the fresh air, going to baby playgroups or classes, downloading the app Peanut and connecting with other mums who may be in a similar situation, and trying talking therapies.
Remember, you're not the only one out there struggling, we're all in this together!