If you’ve read my other posts or follow me on Twitter you’ll know I’ve always been a planner, possibly to the point of obsession. My whole life has been about goals; everything I’ve done has been about working towards something else. Achieving something.
Very soon after I met Hubs we knew it was forever. We had all the important things mapped out: save up, get a flat, save up some more, get married, get a house, have a baby. It didn’t feel remotely abnormal at the time, just sensible – it’s good to plan for the future, right? However, in hindsight, I think it’s true to say I spent so long thinking about where we were going I almost never stopped to consider where we already were.
Truth be told, I never thought much about what happens after, about when we have the house and the baby. It was just a vague fairy tale time filled with laughter, happiness and contentment. How could I not be ecstatic once I have everything I ever dreamed of?
I hold this unbalanced expectation, this conditioning in my brain to only think of the future, as one of the primary causes of my PND. After all, for someone obsessed with achieving what is left once the goal has been reached? Especially if that goal doesn’t feel the way you expected it to feel. For someone who has spent years living for the future it’s quite a shock when, suddenly, all you have to grip onto is now.
I’ve changed. Everybody changes when they become a parent of course, but I feel like a whole part of my being is shifting. My new perspective is almost unrecognisable when held up against the old me. Change like that is frightening, but it has to happen. I’ve had no choice – intense anxiety robs you of the ability to consider the future, as for an anxious mind the mere suggestion of the future can be hell. Nostalgia for the past doesn’t help much either – thinking about all I have lost (my sanity, my happiness, my inner calm to name a few!) can be heart breaking. So I’ve been forced to consider another option; the present. How about I forget the past, surrender my worries about the future and just live for right now?
This is hard. It takes practice and discipline to alter the well-trodden path that your mind is used to taking. But I’m learning and my ability to live in the present moment brings me more peace than any medication ever could.
When you are feeling anxious or low being present is very difficult so, instead, I focus on practicing it during the times I feel good. I focus on something small, I take a deep breath and I manage to centre and still my mind into that moment. I remind myself that in that precise moment, I am fine. Maybe I won’t be fine in ten minutes or two days but right now I am. And it gives me faith to believe I will be again.