Moving, motherhood and how to overcome indecision.
Continued from Prozac and the path of surrender part 2 | Why a natural health nut has gone back on SSRIs.
Since my last vlog I’ve been reflecting on what contributed to my anxiety and depression last year, the challenging chapter that was the focus of my last two videos. Thankfully, I feel strong again now. I’m taking antidepressants, which really help to alleviate the symptoms of my hormonal imbalance — the tension and the blues. But I think I also feel better because I’ve finally moved through some big life crossroads. Crossroads I’d been stuck at for a long time.
Life tests our mettle in many ways. One of the hardest ways in my experience, is the feeling of being in limbo, not knowing whether to choose life A or life B. Often we become quite black and white in our thinking, pitting life A and B against each other, instead of carving a way forward that includes the highlights of both paths. In this rigid state of mind, we feel paralysed, making no clear movements forward, but unable to enjoy the present moment either for the powerful projections in our mind.
The nature of my crossroads centred around family. One conundrum was how to be a loving daughter and at the same time walk my own path. I’m blessed to have the parents I have, and feeling close and connected to family is a core value of mine. At the same time, living in the town where they lived was no longer serving or inspiring me. When I thought about moving somewhere more ‘me’, it felt like I was betraying my loved ones. When I thought about staying, it felt like I was betraying myself, or maybe losing a part of myself is a more accurate way to say it. I’m well aware not everyone feels this way about where they live in relation to family. It’s a personal topic shaped by many different factors but that’s where I found myself. To stay or to go, that was the question.
There was also something else weighing heavily on my mind, a decision many thirty-somethings will relate to, to try for a baby or opt instead for a child-free life. For me, getting pregnant would mean embracing two things that frightened me, change and the unknown. I worried how I’d cope with the stresses of family life, from how to juggle the demands of work and being Mum, to the somewhat existential matter of being emotionally tied to another human for the rest of your life! I also worried having a child would mean sacrificing dreams, like travelling and creating. I’m an artist at heart who loves writing music, poems and all forms of story-telling — but it’s not what pays my bills. It’s something I already have to fit in around work, which it can be hard to find the energy to do — and that’s without adding children into the equation. Throw in a kid or two and I just couldn’t see how I’d find the time for creative projects of any real scale.
On the flip side, I could also see how raising a family could be the making of me. Actively choosing change and welcoming in the unknown would be a beautiful surrender, an act of faith that — despite my reservations — called to me on a deep soul level. At times it felt like I’d built up so much fear and resistance around motherhood, that letting nature take its course would actually be a relief. Put another way, sometimes the only way out is through, and specifically through the exact thing that scares you.
As for motherhood spelling the end of my individual hopes and dreams, I could see that — while it would undoubtedly be harder to make time for myself — I was also being pretty pessimistic. This came sharply into focus after spending time with a dear friend, a woman who truly runs with the wolves, embodying — amongst other things — the roles of mother, creative professional, worldly traveller and daughter, living an ocean away from family where she speaks English and not her mother tongue. Her have-it-all attitude and trust in life itself to deliver, for her not against her, showed me how restrictive my thinking had become. I was reminded of the common cognitive distortions I studied once on a counselling training and realised I’d been falling foul of all of them! If you’re not familiar with cognitive distortions here are a few examples:
- Mind Reading — ‘If I move away from family they’ll think I don’t care.’
- Catastrophising — ‘If I move my relationship with my family will never be the same again.’
- Negative Filter — ‘All my friends with children are burnt out.’
- Disqualifying the positive — ‘Motherhood’s all nappies and self-sacrifice’. (Forget about the joy and the love!)
- Fortune Telling — ‘I’ll definitely get post-natal depression.’
There are more examples of cognitive distortions, with worksheets to help you overcome them, at positivepsychology.com/cognitive-distortions. If you’re at a crossroads of your own, about anything, I highly recommend making your way down the list, remaining open to the possibility that it’s your thoughts — more than your circumstances — that are holding you captive. Now humour me will you, while I riff my most positive thoughts:
- Motherhood would be an exciting new adventure.
- Motherhood would bring love and joy.
- I can be a Mum and lead a rich creative life.
- Whatever path I choose, it’s my perspective of it that will make me happy.
And now how about some positivity on moving:
- Closeness to loved ones is a feeling, not a distance.
- My loved ones want what’s best for me.
- Living your truth is always a good decision.
Those of you who have followed me for a while already know that I did in the end make the decision to move from my hometown to the much-loved coastal melting pot of Brighton. So far, living somewhere new has been both an exhilarating and challenging experience. Highlights have included visiting beautiful parks and cafes, meeting interesting people, and trying my hand at new things in my local area — like pilates and Kundalini yoga. The biggest highlight though, has been the sense of flow that’s come from from finally doing something that’s been in the ether for some time — from ripping off a plaster so to speak. The flip side has been adapting to change, something I find difficult, and missing the easy familiarity and support of people back home (somewhat predictably I guess). It’s been nine months since we first arrived here on the south coast, which means we have just over three months left on the contract for our rented flat. When that comes to an end we’ll decide on our next move. Whether we stay in Brighton or not, coming here and trying it out has been a valuable experience. One that’s taught me a great deal about myself.
And how about the prospect of motherhood? Where exactly have I got to with that? Well, sorry to be vague but you’ll have to wait and see. Whether it’s on my path or not, I’ve learnt a valuable lesson, to think positively and make the best of it if I do indeed choose to go down that route. To be open to the blessings such a path would bring and stay alert to those sneaky cognitive distortions that we talked about earlier.
So there you have it. If you’ve watched this far and find yourself reflecting on some crossroads of your own, then I sincerely hope this little slice of life and the advice in it serves you well. If clarity keeps evading you, my invitation is to start sifting through those racing thoughts more intentionally:
Try it, what have got to lose? And if you feel like sharing in the comments, do let me know how you get on. Good luck.
Thank you for reading ‘Confessions From A Woman In Wellness’. If you’d like to get your hands on my free, eight page breathwork and mental health guide all you need to do is visit my website www.hayleyjade.co
I’m a fully certified Transformational Breath® facilitator and group leader, recognised by the Global Professional Breathwork Alliance and it is my great pleasure to support others with their physical, mental and spiritual health.