Finding Joy In The Journey


I’m doing a fair bit of work on The Butterfly Mother at the moment, trying to get the blog out there in more places, reach more parents who may be suffering and raise more awareness etc (any tips or advice for this blogging newbie are very welcome, by the way!) and I’ve been reading back through a lot of my earlier posts. Am I Recovered? from the beginning of May is a particularly interesting read at the moment and shows me how much I’ve learnt in just a few short months.

Regular readers know that when I began blogging in April it was almost two years since I became a mum and I considered myself “recovered.” At least for the most part. Sometimes. Or actually not really. Except I mean, I was. I am…probably.

Yeah, you see my problem.

Knowing whether you’re recovered or not can be really difficult because Postnatal Depression & Anxiety, and I suspect any mental health issue or big life event really, is so soul-shaking that you’re never the exact same person afterwards. It’s just not really possible, save for a bout of amnesia, and who wants amnesia really? (*raises hand* me sometimes!) But without pain we don’t learn, and without knowledge we don’t get the chance to become stronger.

Three months ago I posted about a recent setback I’d experienced. I now think of this not so much as a setback or recurrence, but as simply another step in my recovery. A necessary step. Because recovery is not a destination. Recovery is simply a journey. And it’s not really even “recovery” because it doesn’t need a label. This is just me now, I suppose, this is my life. In some ways that is still utterly terrifying to me. The idea that the old, naive, carefree me is lost forever can be so upsetting. I spend way too long dwelling on this, letting myself fall into a negativity spiral about it, which doesn’t help. I just feel awful for a few days then drag myself out of it and begin to feel better again.  Positivity is much more powerful (albeit a very difficult lesson for me!).

I strongly suspect I will never be the woman I was before I had Caterpillar and experienced a terrible mental illness. How can I be? And do I really want to be? In all honestly, I kinda like the new me.  She is kinder, deeper and more empathetic.  She worries less and is present more.  She is more vulnerable maybe but also stronger at the same time.

That earlier post demonstrates my desperation to feel normal again, to be completely and utterly recovered. I suspect it was this obsession that led to recent events. What I’m realising (frustratingly slowly) is that it doesn’t really matter if I’m recovered. It doesn’t really matter if I’m “well” or “unwell.” I just am. And somehow that’s okay.

The tagline for this blog came to me a long time ago but as the months go by I realise more and more how significant those words are; find joy in the journey. Recovery is not a destination and neither is life! It is fluid, constantly moving. There are frequent highs and lows, sometimes within the same day or even the same hour (especially when you’re a parent to young children!) so my best route forward is to work on accepting all feelings, and just finding the small joys in all the things I can. This does mean I’m more hyperaware of my mood now, which is a source of frustration and anxiety for me, but it also means that I will never miss a moment of happiness. Even on the crappiest day, I can now find a tiny moment of joy. Frankly, I rarely did that before PND, and that’s a lesson I will always be grateful for.

7 comments on “Finding Joy In The Journey

  1. oh how I relate, for the longest time I thought recovery from PND meant that I’d be perfect, free from depression and anxiety. How wrong I was. I learnt that perfection is unrealistic, all that I need to do is to be a better mom than I was yesterday, because healing is a journey! not a destination! How’s ‘Caterpillar’?

    1. Exactly. And the more I let go of that struggle to be “well” and, yes perfect, the better, and more well, I feel. It’s a strange balance.

      He is very good, thanks. V cheeky and a bit naughty as two year olds are but getting cuter and funnier every day. So I know I’m doing alright really <3

  2. You write so beautifully, and I love your honesty with your journey through motherhood and PND. I too started blogging this year about my experience with PND and have found it hugely cathartic and a way to share my experiences with friends and colleagues who I may not have had the courage to talk to personally to about. Since sharing my experiences I have had such a positive response from people, and so many people have approached me to say that my bravery has allowed them to be honest about their own battles with anxiety and depression. You articulated so well in your am I recovered post exactly how I feel on a daily basis. I’m not sure when or if I will ever know if I am free from depression or anxiety but knowing that there are other people who feel the same as me makes me feel less alone. So thank you for your posts and your bravery. Bella (& my little Butterfly – Willow) xxx

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words, and for putting your own story out there too – that is huge and brave and important. I must say that after getting over my latest little setback I am finding myself less and less concerned with whether I’m recovered or not. I’m never going to be who I was entirely, and I’m accepting that more and more as time goes on – and you will too. Take care x

  3. Thanks so much for your lovely comment. That’s the thing, you may not be the same but there is a way to be comfortable and happy again, it just seems to take a fair bit of time – at least in my experience! X

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