It is quite common for women to fall into post natal depression after having a child. In my case I had a helping hand from my ex to win that title. Baby blues didn't come with a warning or an invitation in my life. It just one day decided to turn up and made it self at home. In my home. When it does come then it's too late.
For a little while I used to hate looking at my reflection. It didn't help of course having ceiling to floor mirrored built in wardrobes at home. I used to cover all of them with bedsheets in every room. In fact I didn't have 1 mirror on show. I just couldn't bare to see who was looking back at me. It wasn't me.
The thought of looking at the post baby belly, the thin loss of hair and scars from pregnancy acne on my face would make me shake. Of course the fact that I have just had a baby 4 weeks ago wasn't a good enough reason for me. I hated myself. Everyday I would ask myself the same questions, "it's because I look like this, I lost my marriage" "it's because I wanted children I look like this" .
I went on a insane mission to get myself back to what I used to look like, you see... if you don't see depression then it could not possibly exist right? I remember 6 weeks postnatal and I had just borrowed a exercise machine from a friend. The one were you have to go on all 4 and swing your hips side to side on this round wheel. Insanely twisting your abdominal muscles. What the hell was I thinking......wait that's it, I wasn't. I just knew I had to get rid of this fat which was swallowing me up. Not for once thinking my hip to hip stitches would get infected or pop!
I realise now how lonely I must of been because I used to look forward to putting my eldest to sleep, then putting my 6 weeks old baby in a bouncer and swing for my life, followed by hundreds of squats and then finishing off with a zumba CD. Thinking I would go bed tonight a dress size smaller. Yes I thought this was all normal and fine.
One minute you are ok and then the next you find yourself crashing down on your knees with your face buried in your hands, uncontrollably crying. You don't know what caused you to cry, but you just can't stop. There was times I would actually feel myself look at what I was doing as third person, almost like a outer body experience. Watching yourself. Feeling numb. Feeling nothing. You are just watching.
I could easily sit down with a cupper and zone out. Just staring into nothing. Can't remember what i'm thinking about but suddenly would come to realise I have been sitting here for hours. and haven't even taken a sip of what was once a hot cup of coffee.
Hours would go by in silence. My mind would tell me to ask my son how his day at school was but my heart was too weak to even bring myself around to look at him and break a smile. Duties for the baby was just that, duties and a routine to keep me moving around the home. I just found it hard to connect. "i carried you for 9 months, but why do you feel like a stranger?"
Sleeping was the worst, that is if i got any. You see during the day I would keep myself busy so my emotions couldn't catch up with me. At night, is when the emotions would come and attack me in full force. There was no house chores to get to and no baby routine. I was by myself with the feelings. I could feel my heart beat so loud that it almost felt like my T shirt would move with every beat. There was no one even there for me to have an adult conversation with. No one to say "do you want some tea".
The constant feeling of being in someone's else's body was tiring. A ever lasting battle with myself. Who is she? It's not me. My mind and heart refuse to connect. I just didn't care. Felt like a robot there to take care of these two little human beings and that is it. Why bother brushing your hair, Why bother having a shower,Why bother eating..... what's the point. This was the numbness sad merry go round I found myself on, only the conductor would not stop to let me off.
My son oneday was getting changed after coming home from school, I noticed a bruise on his leg so i asked what happened there. "mum i told you remember, i hurt myself in the playground". I stood there looking at this black and blue mark on this leg, watching him as he tried to put his trousers on. I felt an immense amount of shame and neglect come poring over me. Is this what it has become of me, that i couldn't even remember a conversation with my son. What else have I missed. Do I even wake up in the middle of the night to feed the baby?
It was then while I still had a bit of reality left in me, not knowing when it would go, I called the doctor and made an appointment. Am I a fit mother. Are they even safe with me. If popping a pill every few hours is what I had to do then so be it. Most people hate the idea of having a social worker and health visitor visit, but if it meant I could finally have a adult conversation with someone then so be it. Speaking to my own family about what I was going through was not an option. Not that they would not support me but for someone who grew up in a community were depression is seen as something to be ashamed of and not meant to exist, then I would much rather them see me when I am on my happy pills. For now.
A doctor, health visitor and a therapist involvement is unheard of in my world, but just think how many lives could be helped, if this barrier was knocked down. 4 years down the line now and it is almost like reading a horror story. To think that was me. How would I be now if I didn't go searching for help. Where would my kids be?. Would i be even here?
It wasn't a overnight cure. We all have our own ways in dealing with pain. Mine was to keep busy. So I did the one thing that I knew would keep me busy for 3 years. I went to university. If only they knew the girl sitting in that class room is on medication for depression, who just had a baby and become a single mum in matter of couple of weeks. What would they say and think?.
It turns out I had to hit rock bottom in order to find my self worth. In order to find that motivation to live my life. I said before that depression just turns up at your doorstep without any warnings or an invitation. When in fact it did send warnings of sadness which I chose to hide away and let it build up. Being happy in life comes naturally, but sadness takes work so why do we hold onto those moments instead.
Keeping my mind occupied helped me overcome my depression. I found a new love,one that didn't make me hate myself physically, one that gave me knowledge, one that made me stress about the future plans and not what I was living in. Slowly but surely those bedsheets came down. I saw her in the reflection. Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the strongest of them all. The one who overcame her fears, the one who went into a battle with her demands, the one who is protecting her two own creations, the one who doesn't hates herself anymore. the one who can speak and present in a crowded room when once upon a time, she couldn't even string two sentences together, the one who can now sleep at night and dream those dreams which makes her smile.
I wasn't always a "hijabi". In fact I am someone who changes their hair colour every 6 months and changes their hairstyle every 3.
You see styling my hair was part of my confidence and self esteem. I was never forced to cover my hair and in the back of my mind I thought "i'll do it when i'm old".
I really started to appreciate and learn more about my faith after my eldest started a islamic primary school. I remember thinking WOW. Some of the things he was saying when he came home made me feel as if I was learning it for the first time.
My son went to faith school from the age of 5, out of respect I would wear a scarf to pick and drop him off. When I came home the scarf would come off. Without even realising, I had taken up a part time hijabi job. To some it may seem hypocritical but the way I see it, for someone who never picked a scarf was a starting point.
As time went on, I started to question my own worth as I was struggling in my personal life. It was a battle as soon as you step outside to the fashion forward world. In summer 2016, that part time job became full time and permanent.
I had just lost a very important man in my life. My grandad. He was a kind which is very rare to find these days. Not one person can come forward to say something negative about him. A Kind God fearing righteous man. I knew my image back then was somewhat daring. Yet with him I never felt like an outcast. Imagine leaving this world and hundreds and thousand attending your funeral. All because they truly loved you and respected your every word.
After that moment things were not the same. I started to think who would come to my funeral. My time is coming and I have not even prepared. Never mind "i'll do it when i'm old" because time is not guaranteed.
I was fighting a war within myself trying to fit in at work, around friends and social media. ect. Everytime when I thought to myself "don't be a muslim just by name, but also by actions" I would get so scared and back out. Then I would remember the funeral. Finely near the end of 2016 I won the war inside me and decided to stick the middle finger at "what people would say".
I remember going work for the first time as a hijabi. I was sweating and so nervous. My heart was running the London marathon. It's true what people say. Think of it like ripping off a band aid. Do it quick and just do it. It's funny now come to think of it my work colleagues can not even remember or imagine me without a scarf. For them I am still the same Yasmine.
I am thankful for this piece of cloth draped around my head. Even though I know I am not perfect but in so many ways this piece of cloth keeps me away from so many things at 1 point I thought was no big deal. Its my uniform and a constant reminder of who I am. A PROUD MUSLIM.
Yes don't get me wrong, I may have those days when the thought crosses my mind......but alhamdulillah the scarf stayed on. It took me witnessing his death to realise what I was searching for. A jigsaw piece I was trying to fit into this puzzle of a my life. The jigsaw for me was to finally understand and accept who i am. A PROUD MUSLIM WOMEN.
It’s true, love is blind. You are so infatuated with the person that you choose not to see the obvious in front. Your gut tells you not to but your heart takes over. You’re in love. After all why would love be bad and love can conquer all, right?
You never go into a marriage thinking it would only last few years. You go into a marriage thinking, this is it. “I will be with this person for the rest of my life. “
We had this joke, we would count down each year of us being together from 66. Taking us up to 85 years old. We had this vision that when we are both old we would walk together to the local post office to collect our pensions. Still in love and still married. 66, 65, 64 ……. We made it down to only 54 years. Then the counting ended.
Being married for 12 years I wish I could say it was all a bliss. Just because you love someone so deeply it doesn’t mean they will too. A women can take many things the world throws at her even another woman. When the choice comes down to another woman or God which would you choose?
Many times I plucked up the courage to end it all. After all there is so many times a heart can be ripped apart and put back together again but the beat is never the same.
It becomes a routine after a while. The numbness takes over to a point you don’t even remember what love feels like. You are just together because you signed a piece of paper.
I just remember thinking I do not want to be counting the years no more. It didn’t represent years of love but years of just cohabiting. I wanted to love and be free of this numbness torcher.
I may not have been a good Muslim but I had my morals. I was a wife and a mother. That meant something. I would turn a blind eye to everything he dragged in but the moment he questioned his belief. That was it. I took my chance, I knew God will provide and help me stand. I knew then that my marriage finished. It felt like death and we went apart.
Doing the right thing even if it meant having my heart crushed for the last time, was one of the hardest thing I had to do. It would have been easier if I hadn’t of still loved him, but just because you love someone it doesn’t mean its ok.One thing I knew for sure my love for God was far more greater than what I thought this was.
To many this would not make anysense. Why can't you be married to someone if their belief is different. For me it was the final thing I could not turn a blind eye to. 4 years on I can see the beauty in it all, as every book must come to an end but mine is still being written. Starting with this new chapter to find love.
Becoming a mum is a blessing from Allah, A stage of life which completes a women’s purpose. The first promise you make is “I will never let anything bad happen to you”.
I became a single mum 4 weeks after having a C-section. Not only I had to figure out how I am going to move around after just being cut but also look after a baby and his older brother who was 6. No job, no savings, no car and the nearest family to me were 60 miles away.
Despite trying to make sense of my personal emotions of becoming a newly divorced women, I had a much more important issue to deal with. Two in fact.
Establishing a routine helped me to bury the battle of emotions I had going on in my head 24/7. You see when you have children, your emotions don’t exist.
I started off small, when does the baby need feeding, do I have nappy’s, are the school uniform ready, Are the meals prepped for the day, Is the laundry done?.
I found myself consumed in general household duties keeping myself busy and never really had any time for myself. There were times when I had gone days without even brushing my hair or changing my clothes. But what about the future?
Knowing it would be extremely hard, I decided to go back to work. Leaving my baby who was 3 months and still being breastfed in a nursery. Someone had to earn the money and put food on the table. I started to put some money away even if it was couple of pounds here and there. We were existing but not living.
You hear all sorts about single mums and how terrible and sad it is. But to be honest 6 months after my divorce my life actually got better. It wasn’t easy but now 4 years later when I look back I can see and be proud of all the things I have achieved as a single mother. Graduated, promoted, and bought a car, new home, no debts, new friends, and holidays and so on. A small step for mankind but a big leap for a single mother.
The thing to remember is when you are going through hard times it would feel like a lifetime. Think logically before emotionally to overcome them. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, it doesn’t make you weak. But most important of them all is to dream, dream big for yourself and your children every night. And use those dreams to fuel you to run towards your goals.
If that is not enough for you then remember Prophet Isa (as), Prophet Mohammed (saw) and Imam Bukhari who were all raised by single mothers who dedicated their lives and we are part of this illustrious sisterhood of amazing single mothers who raised exceptional progeny.
After all I made a promise “I will never let anything bad happen to them”.
Should of, would of could of will never mount to anything. I should of stayed in school but didn’t. I would have had a stable career, but it never happened. I could of paid much less tuition fees back then, but never mind.
I used my 20’s figuring out what it was I really wanted. Was it to study or to live my life? I chose to live my life and start a family.
Everything was going fine for a while, then life decided to throw a ton of bricks on me. Thanks life, a curved ball would have been fine. It’s only when I blew out the candles on my 30th Birthday that I decided to go back to university and actually try and make something of myself.
University taught me many things. I know you would expect them to, after all you are paying £9000 a year, but I took away much more than just Fashion Retail Management. I learnt more about myself. It helped me build my confidence and broaden my horizon. It helped me to better my work prospects. I was able to network with the industry’s well known leaders. Along with my BA Honors I discovered my self-worth. Walking into a classroom full of 18 something was not easy. I have been away from formal education for nearly over a decade and started to think “what if I am not smart enough”. I made myself a promise that I will go to every class even if I am struggling. It wasn’t about getting A* first time, it’s about taking the first step to self-discovery.
Negativity will always find a way to slow you down and put in doubt. Mainly from close family and friends. Which makes it even more rewarding when you pass the finish line.
Going to university in my 30’s made me appreciate the value of education more. It was the right age for me.
From a housewife and a mother to now working in one of the most famous renowned luxury department stores, as a recognised creative spotlight artist representing UK and Ireland.
Able to set goals for myself which once seemed even to impossible to dream of.