There’s an amazing Facebook group just started. So amazing, it’s been going 6 days and now has 3.4k members. What group is this I hear you ask? Self-care for midwives.
The group aims to be a great resource for midwives struggling or needing to have a rant to people who ‘just get it’. I love that a need was seen and acted on. I’m so sad that in just 6 days 3.4k midwives have joined a group to get advice and support about how to care for themselves.
I’m also relieved that it isn’t just me who’s felt this way, that I wasn’t weak and pathetic, it wasn’t because I was a bad midwife.
I’m a midwife, it’s a crucial part of my identity, I never wanted to do anything else. In 2013 I landed my dream midwifery role. However, it soon became clear I’d walked into a living hell. Rude, unprofessional staff were draining, lack of management support and their understanding of my role was frustrating and interference in my job was damaging to my self-esteem, self-belief and self-respect.
You think it’ll get better and once you find your feet you’ll be fine. Unfortunately, I became the midwife I swore I’d never be. I hated going into work and couldn’t sleep. I cajoled and begged the team I was leading to work harder, increase their knowledge, spend time with the women and nurture them, the list goes on.
I was terrified of looking like I had no idea, that I was failing, that I wasn’t the midwife I’d said I was. 9 months later I was lost. The first sign that all was not right was bursting into tears because the grill wouldn’t work. I cried pretty much on and off for the rest of the day and many more after that.
When I left this perfect job that I’d had so many dreams about, it wasn’t a way I’d ever left a job before. No card or gifts, no “we’ll miss you” as I left for the final time. None of that. The day I walked out of the door for the final time I got in the car as usual for the 25minute drive home and my world turned upside down.
That journey is still as clear as if it was yesterday, but I struggle to comprehend how I got to that point. The point I’d rather kill myself than go back the next day. The point where a long wheelbase van pulled out from a turning really slowly and I accelerated towards it.
I went to places I couldn’t imagine, so many times thinking I was at the bottom of the black hole but there were plenty more depths before recovery could begin. Suicidal in the day, harming and planning, yet lying awake at night with palpitations so crazy it felt like my heart would pump out of my chest and I was terrified I’d die.
I lost pretty much everything. Ended up living in my car for 4 weeks. My relationship with family broke down: I was the happy, funny, dependable one and then one day I wasn’t. I existed, I didn’t live.
I bought a van and made it into a camper, it’s a bit rough and ready but nearly three years later I’m still there and finally at peace.
I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for some very special people. My GP is awesome and I had an amazing therapist who saw me free until I was at the top of the 9-12month NHS waiting list.
Friends. Spread out over the country but they have literally patched me up, suffered soaking and snotty shoulders, bailed me out financially and loved me even when I thought I was completely unlovable. They’ve also made me laugh and believe I am an all-right person! I’ve worked hard on myself and my future. I’ve talked, cried, meditated, hit things, walked the dog at crazy times of night, written a diary and studied.
I now have a Diploma in Midwifery Complementary Therapies, Certificate in Midwifery Acupuncture, and I’ve qualified in Hypnotherapy and Neuro Linguistic Programming. I now support women, birth partners and professionals in my own business. I’m passionate about helping them recover from birth trauma or PND, working with partners and birth partners also affected or just giving the important therapy of touch via a simple massage. Slowly it’s building into something I’m really proud of.
Admitting you’re struggling isn’t easy but it’s easier to say when you’re teetering rather than drowning. Help is out there. It’s not always easy to find or even immediate but just reaching out and sharing the burden of your thoughts can help a little and be the beginning of positive mental health. If you broke your leg you’d go to the doctor - so if your brain is breaking, do the same. And be kind. Be kind to those around you as you never know what that person may have fought to just get out of bed that day. And most of all, be kind to yourself.