Why did I not understand what mental illness was?

I have been thinking a lot lately about my mental health and the different sorts of mental illnesses a person can suffer with. My knowledge has increased the more read about it and the articles and blogs on this website have really interested me and made me think of how my mind works. I have always been up and down, had low moods, and anxiety. This is not unusual for someone who has gone through what I have in life. It has been a tough road with lot's of bumps and diversions along the way.

The thing is, I have never totally understood mental health. Well this was until I became a mother in 2010, when I started to have irrational thoughts and I got what I term 'mummy anxiety' in a big way. It gradually emerge, such as when my partner took the kids out whilst I was at work. I was not sure what he was up to or whether the kids would be safe. Silly I know, but I would be secretly panicking and constantly thinking that something would happen to them. I would worry that they would wander off, or a person would kidnap them or they would get run over.

If my mother-in-law was looking after my children, I would say ‘watch them with the windows and stairs’. Other times, I would sit there looking at them adoringly then be overcome with anxiety of something happening to them. Anxiety would creep in. I would fear the worst possible scenario, however unlikely. I knew it was ridiculous and irrational - they were only going to play out in the back garden.

The final straw was when we were going on a caravan holiday and I found myself stressing about the doors and windows as there were no locks on them and I panicked that someone would try to get in or my children would wake up in the night and get out. This for me was the last straw, I knew that my anxiety was rubbing off on my partner, and I then realised that I need to put things into perspective and try to keep calm.

I started thinking about the change in my mental health. Maybe it was the increase in negative stories in the media - stories of other children going missing or hurting themselves. I might just have been an over protective mother, trying to wrap my children up in cotton wool. I knew these thought's had to stop. I know anxiety happens to everyone at some point, but my anxiety was getting unmanageable. Yes sure the world is a dangerous place, and people get hurt, but I know I am a good mother and am care for my children in the right way. I want to protect my children, without being over-bearing.

I do know that some of it is all part of being a parent and the constant worry that can comes with it. However now, if I feel my mummy anxiety coming on, I talk to my partner, family and friends who are all very supportive. I am trying to step back and give my kids a bit more room. I am trying not to be too over-protective. I’ve also now started mindfulness exercises, such as meditating and yoga. I have 'me time' at the gym and I've started to eat healthily. I feel this will all contribute to improving my mental health and especially contribute to controlling my anxiety. I try to relax when I am with my kids. I love my kids so much that I know I will always worry a little, but I am learning to channel it in the right way and not let it over take my mental well-being.

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