parent opinion

'I imagine running away and never coming back.' Being a mother has destroyed my identity.

This post is one person's experience and should not be considered medical advice.

I think I’m traumatised by having two children under the age of two. There wasn’t one specific traumatic event that occurred. I would describe it as a slow burn. About seven years of constantly running on high revs until it felt like my engine would explode. Teetering on the brink of holding my sh*t together and falling in an utter heap. 

One of the most overwhelming thoughts during that time was ‘this can’t be it. This can’t actually be how things are supposed to be, how motherhood is supposed to be’. 

I felt overwhelmed, exhausted, guilty, unhappy, depressed, discontent, agitated, jealous and miserable. My first child was a terrible sleeper despite my thorough attempts to maintain a sleep routine, which sent me completely mad.

Watch: Lies every mum has told. Post continues below.


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I’ve recently reached a milestone: nine years of parenthood. My first child is an avid early riser so in those nine years I've not slept past 6-6.30am more than 10 times. 

I feel 100 years old. My husband and I don't dare go to bed past 9.30pm. We were the butt of many ‘early bed time’ jokes among childless family and friends who, let’s be honest, just didn’t get it and who we silently laughed at once they welcomed babies and left every function early. 

I never worked. I haven’t been back to employment since having my first baby. My husband went off to work every day, and I had the kids. We are like a stereotypical 1950s household. 

I now understand why all the housewives of the 1950s spent most of their time drunk on Shandi or high on valium. 

When the second baby arrived 23 months after the first, I had expected it would double my workload. I was wrong. 

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Somehow, that new little addition quadruples the workload. I felt like I never left the kitchen. Prepare a meal, feed a meal, clean up a meal. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Pack a billion snacks and things to entertain them if you ever leave the house. 

Do all the swimming lessons, music classes, playdates and mothers' groups because healthy, well-rounded children need to socialise, splash in water and f*cking bang maracas together. 

Then there are the endless nappies, bath times, books and blocks. F*cking building blocks. 

When I eventually sought help for my declining mental health, my kids were aged five and three. 

I told the psychologist that whenever I walk down the hallway to my son's room to build blocks, I pass the front door and fantasise about opening it, running away and never coming back. 

I fantasised about escaping so hard. What if I actually just flew to Queensland and changed my name? 

By that stage, motherhood had become so unbearable and monotonous that, after many visits to the psychologist, she suggested I may benefit from a course of anti-depressants. 

Good old 'mummy prozacs'. In my case it was Zoloft, one of the heaviest prescribed drugs in Australia. I lasted seven months on them and gained 13kg. 

I became completely numb to life and also numb below the waist. I know so many other mothers on the same medication and, while I greatly respect and admire anyone’s bravery in seeking help and treating their mental health, I’m also left thinking, why do we all have to be medicated to make it through motherhood?

My kids are now nine and seven and I still feel like I should definitely be on some form of medication. I still feel like I’m trying to come down from years and years of feeling tight in the chest with responsibility and overwhelmed by motherhood. 

Trying to be a good role model, good mother, good wife, good friend. And somewhere in amongst it all I lost the ability to be a good self. 

If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from depression, contact PANDA – Post and Antenatal Depression Association. You can find their website here or call their helpline – 1300 726 306.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, please contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue 1300 22 4636.

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