I lived in my own bubble of happiness, busyness and control - I had my own business, worked my own hours and loved what I did.
I was a Personal Trainer and was the epitome of motivation and positivity, always known as the optimistic chick that had overdosed on happy pills.
Happily married, life was awesome and I lived and breathed independence; it was a visceral part of who I was.
And then I had a baby.
A sweet, innocent and totally dependable baby.
A baby that now dictated my schedule, a baby that needed me every day at any given moment and a baby that I wanted, but I was clearly not ready for emotionally.
But how do you talk about that when people constantly ask casually, “How are you going?” followed with, “She’s so cute, you must be soooooooo happy!”.
“Um, yes - yes of course I’m happy.”
That’s what’s expected of a new mother that’s had her first baby.
She should be happy. Elated. Over the moon. Fucking grateful.
But inside I wasn’t any of those things.
I was screaming, “Please HELP.”
“Please help because I love my baby, but hate being a Mother.
I had wanted this but now I was living it, I was living a nightmare.
I hated being a Mum. I hated looking after my baby and I hated that I hated it!
Strong words to use and a lifetime from where I am now, but at that point in my life; the 32 year old version of me was becoming a blubbering, resentful and empty mess.
Most days I was so fucking bored with the mundane tasks that were waiting for me. Going from a hugely independent life with a business to run, team to manage, meetings to lead and marketing plants to execute I failed miserably with any form of satisfaction in Motherhood.
Shoot me please if I needed to change another nappy, say goo-goo-ga-ga or spend another day at home doing home stuff.
I wish I was joking, but at the time I was hopelessly lost in a dark cloud.
Guilt was eating away at me and my world had fallen apart.
I’d dread waking up as it meant another hamster wheel day of the same and crying became the new normal as I emotionally crumbled with the dissatisfaction I was feeling deep inside.
How could I be so unhappy? Why wasn’t I grateful that I had a baby? There’s a lot of people that try for years and never fall pregnant. How could I be so selfish and why couldn’t I just “snap” out of it.
I asked these questions of myself daily, but didn’t have any answers.
My post-natal depression was diagnosed when my Bub was 6 months old and it was a breath of fresh air to have a label I could put on this thing that was inside. This thing that had stripped me to the bone and and taken over the woman that I was.
It took a random trip to Hawaii with a girlfriend without my baby to realise my unhappiness was more than just a hard time. I was away for 5 days and came home even more desperate to escape. The trip was a bandaid but I needed fucking surgery.
I remember the night I let it all out to my Husband. Sitting on the couch at home just 2 days after I’d returned. Crying. Again.
He looked at me with so much pity and confusion because the wife he loved so much was missing and he had no idea why I wasn’t happy and what to do to make me happy.
I uttered 3 words that changed my life and thankfully he listened with love and acceptance.
“I need help.”
I whispered all the thoughts that were dark and scary. I rambled on trying to explain the emptiness, confusion and jumbled mess inside. And I surrendered to the reality that I needed help.
He stood up quietly and made a phone-call to a friend that was a Doctor and she immediately took charge giving him instructions on what to do.
Call Lifeline immediately
Don’t leave her alone.
Get her to her GP pronto
I can’t imagine what that night must have been like for him…
We did all of those things in the next 24 hours, and I ended up seeing a Psychologist for 18 months.
I was a broken woman and had to rebuild myself and my psychologist agreed that setting goals would be good for me. She narrowed in on some of my previous feelings of success in my life and identified that goals gave me a sense of control and satisfaction as I worked towards them.
Being in the fitness game as a Personal Trainer and with my history of sporting events ranging from Triathlons, Tae Kwon Do, Body-Shaping, Powerlifting and a one-off marathon, we decided a Triathlon would be the goal.
She knew the mental health benefits of exercise and let me take the reins encouraging me every step of the way.
I signed up for an Enticer Race in Robina, and it happened to fall on my Daughter's first birthday.
Should I do it? Or should I be spending the day all about her?
Nope. I should do it. I am important too and we can use the day to celebrate Mummy and Bub achieving their own milestones in their life.
Training gave me the reprieve I needed to fill myself up again from the inside out.
It also gave me micro bits of self esteem delivered from little wins week to week, month to month.
And it gave me my inner voice back, “You’ve got this Jodie.”
I remember rocking up to race day and clambering out of the car, carrying my gear and trying to figure out where to go. Totally nervous and pumped.
I’d done Tris before including a Long Course so I knew what to expect but walking through the grounds and taking in the atmosphere of the pre-race chatter left my skin tingling and I needed a whole lot of self talk to keep me believing that I could do it.
But amongst the nerves there was a feeling of pride. In a way I already felt like I was a winner. I’d won my battle with darkness and maintained my marriage. I now had peace with Motherhood and what it meant for me, and I now loved the woman again when I looked at her in the mirror.
Jumping into the water to start the race there was tears coming down my face as I took in the moment and realised the road I’d travelled on. I was last coming out of the water but I didn’t care.
I finished the race and fell into the arms of my Husband and Bub in more tears. Happy tears. We went on to celebrate her birthday for the rest of the day and you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.
12 months ago on that very day I’d become a new mum to a gorgeous little girl, without any idea of what I was in for, and now 12 months later I was a powerhouse of spirit who had found herself again and understood what Motherhood meant for her.
I did a lot of writing as well during my recovery as it helped me work out the mess inside and I penned this poem when I was on the up.
I am a Woman
I am a woman of strength, crystal clear of my soul,
Its intentions and desires, lead me forward towards my goals.
Stakes are set in stand, planted firmly with intent,
But I know full well, it’s sand and not cement.
I am a woman of strength, firm in my resolve,
Rooted deeply with energy, seeing my desires unfold.
Waves of thought, are calmly released,
Specificity now vibrates with flow and ease.
I am a woman of strength, confident to advance,
Acknowledging the past, with just a single glance.
Like a lioness, like a butterfly, I know who I am,