I believe babies come into our lives with the most beautiful mission, most times the mission isn’t an easy one, but they are surely the ones that have the power to change your life if you open up to the experience and to your own growth.
Rebecca has shared with us her experience with being a young mum and going through post natal depression so openly, I absolutely love how she used her experience as a driving force to help those around her going through a similar experience.
I have related to so much of what you have shared Rebecca and I am so grateful that you have created this beautiful community at Sunny Mondays to help other young mums. I think post natal depression affects so many of us, yet there is such a stigma and shame around it, new mums need support regardless of their age.
Rebecca has found self-care to be an important part of her healing journey and she has created a beautiful self-care planner over at her blog, she has some awesome resources and articles there too, I highly encourage you to check her page out whether you are a young mum or not, I think her information is valuable for all new mums and I just love how her self care routine started with just lighting a candle, its the simple things that make the biggest difference.
Thank you Rebecca for sharing your journey and wisdom with us, I am forever grateful and I wish you and your beautiful family so much happiness.
Read on for her beautiful journey and wisdom…
Rebecca Walker – Sunny Mondays
Tell me a bit about your journey, the difficulties and bumps you have encountered along the way?
My name is Rebecca, I’m 26 years old and I’m a blogger and mama to two amazing little boys, Jack and Harry. A month after my 21st birthday I fell pregnant with Jack, and from that point on, my life changed dramatically.
I was a typical girl in my early 20s; I had a boyfriend, I worked part time while I studied, and I partied on the weekends. Becoming a young mum changed every part of my life. My career and education were put on hold, and while my friends were travelling and starting their careers, I was looking after a baby. I felt extremely isolated. Although my husband, family and close friends were very supportive, I didn’t know anyone else who was going through the same things as me.
The isolation led to Post Natal Depression and Anxiety. My depression was diagnosed when Jack was six months old, but it remained mostly untreated for the next 3 years. When Harry was born in 2013, PND took over my life for a second time. But this time, with two little people to look after, I knew that I had to do everything in my power to get healthy – for my kids and for myself.
Since then, I have worked really hard to manage my anxiety and depression, and thankfully today I am the happiest and healthiest version of me that I’ve ever been! I started my blog, Sunny Mondays, in 2014 to document the ways that I deal with anxiety and depression while raising my kids. This year I have also started to share my experience as a young mum. I hope to inspire other young mums to look after themselves, and to create a safe and supportive community of young mamas so that other women don’t need to feel the isolation that I did five years ago.
What was your aha moment? What pushed you towards taking action and taking steps towards change?
They say that sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you will change, and this was definitely true for me.
My rock bottom came in 2013. My husband is in the Navy, and when Harry was only 2 weeks old, he had to leave on a six month trip. That meant that I was home alone with a 3 year old and a newborn baby. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. Getting out of bed at 6.30am to look after Jack, after getting less than five hours of broken sleep, felt impossible most days.
I wasn’t looking after myself at all. Most mornings I would wake up and have a strong coffee, followed by a Red Bull for breakfast (that makes me cringe now!)
I survived mostly on sugar and coffee to get me through the day, and by the time bedtime came I would be exhausted but totally wired. I couldn’t get to sleep without drinking a few glasses of wine, and sometimes popping a Valium. By the time my husband returned from his trip, I was barely functioning. I would cry all the time, and I couldn’t explain why. My depression started to take a big toll on our marriage.
I realised one day that I needed to take control of my health (mental and physical) because I was close to ruining every good part of my life. I wasn’t the person that I wanted to be, and I definitely wasn’t the mother that my children deserved.
I found an amazing psychologist, changed my medication, learnt how to meditate, and started making small but important lifestyle changes.
Describe yourself before your journey of transformation/awakening.
If I had to describe myself back then in one word, it would be SCARED.
As a new mum, I shut myself off from all support and social interaction. When the maternal health nurse visited me, I lied and said that I felt great. It sounds drastic, but I was scared that someone would take my baby away from me if they thought I wasn’t coping.
For the first six months of Jack’s life, I was terrified to leave the house alone. Even after my PND diagnosis, I still struggled on a daily basis. I stayed at home most days, because even small outings like taking Jack to the park felt so difficult.
I wished that I could have my old life back. I had no idea who I was, aside from being Jack’s mum. I had no passion or interests, and when Jack turned one and it was time for me to return to work, I had a major panic attack and told my husband that I couldn’t go back to work. This put a big financial strain on our family, which amplified my feelings of guilt and shame.
I had changed from a fun-loving, independent woman, to a person who couldn’t even leave her own house. I was 100% dependent on my husband, and I had no plans or hopes for the future. I had lost everything that made me feel like ‘me’.
Do you feel anything in particular contributed to your journey? (Anything pushed you towards your struggles, bumps and traumas?)
The biggest contributing factor in my depression and anxiety was isolation and loneliness. My first bout of PND was sparked by my lack of connection with other mums who understood the reality of young motherhood. I didn’t attend Mother’s Group as I felt like an outsider among the other mums who were all in their 30s or early 40s.
My second period of PND occurred when I was solo parenting while my husband was away.
Stepping outside my comfort zone, meeting new people and reaching out for help were all instrumental in my recovery. That’s why I’m now so enthusiastic about creating a community of young mums through my blog. It’s impossible to be happy and healthy without love and human connection.
What has been the most significant change in your life?
I now have passion and purpose in my life!
Three years ago, I made the decision to go back to Uni, after having dropped out a year after high school. I’m studying a Bachelor of Arts, and I have reignited my childhood love of writing. Starting my blog has allowed me to explore my passion for the written word and it has also given me space to rediscover my creativity. And an amazing, unexpected bonus of blogging has been all the incredible women I have met who are out there doing their thing in the blogosphere.
I now have big dreams for my future, and I’m working towards them every single day.
How has this journey impacted on your life as a mother? How have your kids benefited from your transformation?
My transformation has been so closely linked to my role as a mother. Becoming a mum was the catalyst for all of the difficulties that I faced, but my children have been my guiding lights throughout the whole process. Motherhood has cracked me open. Learning how to care for another human being and devoting my whole life to another person has taught me so much about courage, persistence, resilience, patience, love and joy.
I think my boys have benefitted greatly from the changes that I’ve made in my life. They now have a happy, healthy mother. I am much more present and patient with them. We have so much fun together! Of course motherhood is still challenging, and I don’t always get it right, but I’m proud that I am showing my boys how to live a life of purpose and passion.
Three words to describe yourself now?
Calm. Inspired. Grateful.
What is your most heartfelt belief in life? Share your message with the world! What are you most passionate about?
I wholeheartedly believe that in order to nurture the people we love, we have to take care of ourselves first. It’s the old saying about fitting your own oxygen mask before you help others.
Mums are amazing at putting other people first, but I believe that we have to stop glamorising putting other people’s needs ahead of our own. It doesn’t make you a better mother; it depletes you and it sucks the joy out of parenting. Self-care doesn’t have to cost anything, or take hours, or be another item on your already long to-do list. It just needs to feel good and fill up your cup. You are worth it!
Rebecca Walker is a writer, blogger, copyeditor-in-training and mama to two boys. She writes for the 20-something mama who is seeking joy amidst the challenges of modern motherhood.
Through her blog, Sunny Mondays, she’s here to shake up your approach to self-care, and to inspire you to live more mindfully – while showing you that you deeply deserve it.
And when she isn’t word-wrangling, you can find her wiping grubby faces and daydreaming about her next Sunday morning sleep in.
Inspiring Journeys is an empowering interviews series with women who have overcome life’s adversities and turned their lives around, finding themselves along the way.
I have started this interview series because I believe that we all have the power to turn our lives around and find a new route, a route that is guided by our heart.
The universe has funny ways of shaking things up and making us wake up to what is really important in life and what we are here to do, embracing our challenges and growing from our experiences is a wonderful gift.
I have invited some beautiful and inspiring women to be a part of these series and I am so happy to share their journey, wisdom and heartfelt messages with you.
My wish for you is that you find hope, inspiration and courage to follow your heart and use your struggles as your own opportunity for growth and transformation.