This week has been a very emotional week for me and that is due to it having been Maternal Mental Health week and yesterday being International day of the Midwife. I am a midwife but not currently working and that is partly due to some mental health issues I have suffered with these past 18 months.
When I first qualified as a midwife I travelled all the way to Birmingham (about an hour away so 2hrs there and back) simply because it meant I would begin my career as a community midwife the position I fell in love with as a student. Don’t get me wrong having a baby is amazing and the main bit people focus on when you say you’re a midwife but it is also only a very small part of a long journey. I feel as a community midwife I can really get to know the women I care for and see them continuously throughout and after their pregnancy-something that does not happen on delivery suite or the maternity ward. It is also means shorter working days than 12hr hospital shifts but does involve on-calls for home deliveries. After doing this for 8 months, a community role became available at my local trust and I jumped at the opportunity, as the role was working with vulnerable women and families and means I wouldn’t have to commute anymore. However, this was only a short term contracted role and full time at that and after a year or so i began to find life difficult working full time with three very busy children, so I reduced my hours but this meant I had to go into the unit for a while as no role was available in community part time. I did this for a while until my former role a permanent part time role in community became available. I loved this role and was looking forward to my return after 9 months maternity leave with Olivia.
At first my return went well, and i was just about managing to fit it all in, but slowly things began to get harder as liv got older and the older 3 had more demanding school and social lives. I was starting to struggle managing it all, and to manage my work load as well as a uni course work had asked me to do. For a couple of months i just kept my head down and carried on, but I was bursting on the inside knowing I was not coping with it all. Unfortunetly, this all came to a head and I would say I had a “mini meltdown” and the tears started rolling and all the emotions, feelings, stresses, worries, everything came out and I became quite depressed and suffered with extreme anxiety. I was signed off from work, something I was really embarrassed about, as I didn’t want people to know i wasn’t coping but in the same breath Im glad I finally spoke to my GP and she was able to diagnosis me and for me to hear from someone else that its ok and no I was not coping and not well and i need some help and we that we will sort it. Well easier said then done, but since then I have been on medication which sadly does help, but hopefully it wont be forever, I now see a counsellor and discuss how i’m feeling which has been very difficult and helpful all at once and I see my GP regularly. I have realised that I should’t be embarrassed to say I needed help and should have in fact done it a lot sooner, and I urge anyone who feels the same or just feels something is not right to seek some help and advice.
However, what sadly came of this was me deciding to take some time away from midwifery. This was partly due to just not simply being able to fit in a good work and life balance, but mainly I can say from the very poor way I was treated with regards to my mental health issues and time off sick. Even working for the NHS I came up against some very horrible questioning and accusations, that made me lose all my trust, support and confidence in my own work area. I do not want to go into huge detail but when you are suffering from depression and anxiety to be dealt with the way I was, was unacceptable. I understand that this happens to many people dealing with mental health issues and that the services out there are stretched to the limit, but this is 2018 we should have better understanding and knowledge by now.
I now have very mixed feelings regarding being a midwife, it is an amazing and privileged job, but it is also a very very demanding role and hard work. I am put off returning due to my poor experience and lack of support but also if I am completely honest, I haven’t really missed it, which makes me sad. I worked so bloody hard getting my degree, having had a baby in the middle of my training, losing my father very unexpectedly, being accused of plagiarism and clearing my name and then failing my dissertation twice but proving them wrong and finally passing I feel upset to have wasted so much time and energy in my life to maybe not practice again. I just have to accept that at the moment, midwifery isn’t working for me and my very busy life.
So this is Where I’m At, currently not working as a midwife, but happy to be at home being a full time mummy, doing all the school/club runs etc and also helping to care for my niece and nephews (need the pennies). Working everyday to manage my mental health, which with good support including my fab husband and best friend, I am getting there. All my respect goes to every midwife out there, I know how hard it is, and anyone suffering/managing or dealing with mental health issues keep going and use all the support available to you.
The photo below shows my daughters, niece and two nephews – just 6 of the sometimes 8 I look after now!?!?!?!?!?!? (luckily rarely all at once!)……but i’m happier and home so its worth it.