Ok, so this is going to be a bit of a deep post and not in line with my typical ramblings, but I feel it’s an important one. A man talking about their health is a notoriously challenging topic, when you add in mental health; it becomes an even more taboo subject, which is rarely discussed both in the media and down the boozer.
So…my attitude to dealing with problems so far in my life has been, not to talk about it and if I ignore them for long enough they will go away. This attitude has so far served me well, and I’ve managed to remain a fairly positive guy. Being honest though I’ve lived a fairly trouble free life, grew up with 2 loving parents, a brother, nice house, normal school, good friends etc. etc. etc.
Along comes pregnancy, I was absolutely over the moon when we found out, pleased I was in full working order and although not planned as such, we had talked a lot about it and as a couple we are both emotionally and financially secure, so……no real concerns. From fairly early on I started to struggle to sleep, I had just started a new job and we were moving house, so I put a lot of this down to that, but in reality most nights I would stay awake, with some pretty irrational fears about; the pregnancy, labour, my OH’s health, the babies health, the babies appearance (yes I know this is shallow but I’m being honest). In my job, I see some horrible situations, I see the side of society that most people don’t and see what a physical health problems and/or a learning disability can do to someone’s quality of life. This isn’t me saying that someone with a health problem can’t live a wonderful and loving life, because they absolutely can and I have also seen some hugely positive outcomes for individuals and families. My whole career is based around supporting these individuals to improve their lives. What I am saying is; that it can be a real struggle. Could I cope with this?? Could I emotionally deal with it?? Could I offer the same love?? I would frantically google ‘things’ to avoid in pregnancy, and how to prevent complications at birth. I didn’t mention any of this to my OH, my logic was that I didn’t want to worry her. I was able to hide most of these emotions and was even able to support her with her own fears, all while battling with this niggling demon in my head.
Along comes the labour, as described in the previous blog post it was a pretty harrowing experience for me, nevertheless our little bundle of joy was perfect in every single way and we got her home 2 day later, our little family complete.
I had 3 weeks off work, 2 paternity and 1 weeks leave, my request for 4 was not authorised, which pissed me off. I work bloody hard and had not used much leave over the year, as I knew I’d want as much time off as possible. As expected the weeks flew by and before I knew it, I was back. Commuting 2hrs each day and not getting home until late. I reached a point where all the stresses over the last 9 months, hidden emotions, new job , new house, tiredness came crashing down at once. I was physically sick, lacking any motivation and suffering crippling migraines. For the first time in a very long time, I went to my GP. It was so long, I forgot how to make an appointment (it’s all online now….fancy eh!!). I didn’t know who my GP was so I just picked someone at random, she was lovely, listened to me and suggested a number of different options she felt would be of benefit, she wanted me to go away and think which would work best for me. In diagnosis terms she said I was stressed but felt a lot of it was down to anxiety. In reality, just discussing some of issues helped a lot, I offloaded a lot to my OH, who was very supportive. Im still working to deal with my anxiety type thoughts RE: Effy, I’m not sure this will ever completely go away…but I’m ok with that.
The reason I wanted to do this post and the last, was really to highlight that the pregnancy and labour can affect men as well as women, the focus is quite rightly on the women and baby, but the blokes can struggle both emotionally and physically with the process. This can manifest itself in a number of different ways. In my case, I couldn’t deal with it in my usual way, it was new emotions that I hadn’t expected and for the first time in my life I had to admit I was struggling.