There’s a lovely piece in the Guardian today about how illustrator Angie Stevens (who blogs at Doodlemum) “drew” her way out of PND. With three children, she found next to no time for herself, and yet it was exactly what she needed. As she says in the article, “You lose your identity. It’s such a cliche to say that, but you need to find out who you are. You go for years not sleeping because you love them but you wonder how you fit into this. You look in the mirror and don’t recognise yourself any more. What I’ve discovered through doing this is that I’m still me.”
I could have written this word for word – except that my escape is writing, rather than drawing. I am fortunate (as is Angie), in that my escape is also my livelihood. But I can honestly say that I have felt most alive and energised when writing Fertile Thinking (after the birth of son no.1) and The Postnatal Survival Guide (after no. 2).
It’s a two-pronged approach – finding what makes you feel like “you” – and then carving out the time to do it. For some people, it’s about going back to work. The act of having your own space and separate identity from “mum” may be enough. But if you’re working to pay the mortgage and don’t feel inspired by your job, you’ll need to find this elsewhere, maybe in a hobby or learning a new skill. Or it can be volunteering (which is also great for getting you out of your own head and connecting to a wider world).
Tapping into something where you’re so absorbed that you lose track of time and your negative thoughts is a magical process, and doesn’t need to be time consuming. I’d love to hear about your “lose yourself” activities and whether they’re related to work or play.
You can download free copies of my book, The Postnatal Guide, for the next 10 days from Smashwords.com. Please feel free to share with anyone you think might benefit from the book. And if you do read and enjoy it, don’t hesitate to leave a review .