A reminder in my phone tells me it was 4 years ago today that I started my Facebook account. I had been totally anti-Facebook and openly told friends I didn’t need it in my life.
What changed my mind?
I was suffering with postnatal illness. One of the most difficult hidden mental illnesses a mum can have. One of my symptoms in particular was feeling paranoid. Not paranoid in the scary movie looking over my shoulder kind of way but far worse than that. It came in the form of self doubt. It would make me question everything I said or did and everything others said and did or didn’t do. Meeting up with a mummy friends they would chat and often reference to a photo they had all seen or a conversation they had had but i didn’t know anything about it. It had been done in Facebook. To me this made me doubt myself further. I fervently disliked Facebook yet I felt I was missing out. Now my friends weren’t excluding me in any way but the little seeds of doubt were sown and I would question everything.
Before FB I used to text and call old friends regularly, sending them photos and catching up with a good old chat. I would pretty much know their daily routines and then mine so we could chat away whilst our babies were having their daytime naps.
So it was 4 years ago when my second baby was just 10 weeks old that I decided to bite the bullet and set up my Facebook account. In fact my first photo posted was of my baby girl. But far from making me feel like i belonged. Looking at Facebook made me feel that my life wasn’t happy enough. I was really struggling with a 2 year old and her baby sister and all the logistics that go with having 2 young children. Facebook was to become my mask. I would post happy photos and statuses “this is us having a happy time” when in reality it felt like that that particular moment was the happy time and the rest of the day was in fact a huge struggle and pretty rubbish. It gave my husband false hope as he would see a photo I’d posted or messaged him and he’d say hopefully “it looks like you’ve had a nice day”. But that’s all it was, an appearance of a good day, a minute snapshot of a moment that I managed to capture.
When did that start to change?
Facebook slowly became a lifeline to other mums like me who were silently struggling. I watched a documentary on BBC3 about Stacey Soloman an ex X factor contestant who had struggled with postnatal depression when she was a young mum. I googled and found a Facebook link had been posted to a closed online Facebook group which offered peer support to other mums. As soon as I requested to join it felt like I wasn’t alone anymore. With about 15 members on it I felt like I could read other mums commenting on how rubbish they were feeling and I felt relieved to know I wasn’t fighting this on my own. Now this group has over 2600 members worldwide and offers amazing peer support to other mums. And I’m proud to be an admin member of this group. Mums helping mums, and it is an amazing support.
In 4 years I have an amazing online support network and have found my #pndfamily. There are a number of mums who have suffered from postnatal illness and are now incredible advocates. My personal mantra is that no mum should ever feel like they are going through this alone.
So yes I was anti Facebook and I kind of have a love hate relationship with it even now. However I can see that it can be a mask to everyone’s reality but it can also be a lifeline to others.
Seek support where you can, it is out there.