Motherhood can be tough and all-consuming, but it is important to remember your own needs too.
Motherhood can be tough and all-consuming, but it is important to remember your own needs too. PeopleImages

Brighter you is hiding inside

I KEEP looking at old photos. The times my now double-digits children were still in nappies. I look deeply into that younger (still exhausted) version of myself and see if she knew what was coming.

The ways that being a mother would shape me, would change me.

Don't get me wrong, I love motherhood. I can multi-task like nobody's business.

I see "learning opportunities” everywhere. I can break up a fight, tie a shoe and cut a watermelon practically at once. I take to it all with zeal. Maths homework aside.

But I don't think it's a stretch to say, I didn't know how much of me I would sacrifice along the way.

The constant exhaustion, the need for practicality and the demand for patience, can hollow a person out, if you're not careful. And I was not careful. Not with myself. So much so, that when someone referred to me outside of motherhood, I could not fathom who that person was.

I couldn't even see that that might have been a problem. I was too busy breaking up fights, tying shoes and trying to tackle Year 3 mathematics.

Now, I find myself on the flipside of the photo, a soon-to-be single mother negotiating her own needs with that of her children. Tough terrain, let me tell you.

But there's hope here too.

And somewhere along the Bruce Highway, I felt some part of me return - having spent time with old friends and listening to good music - a familiar, lighter version could be felt.

It was a relief to know that after years of Not Great Times, a pinprick of light could be seen.

I don't mean to gloss over the turmoil. I could take up most of this paper detailing the things that have brought me to here.

But for now, I want to say - for anyone experiencing post-natal depression, or depression, or simply just struggling with the all-consuming task that is motherhood - that there's a brighter version of you still hiding inside. All is not lost.

To the readers who gave me their feedback after my last column on suicide - thank you.

Your beautiful messages not only cemented my belief that we should openly communicate about depression and suicide, but also gave me the courage to share my current situation.

Peta Jo is an author and mother of three. She's currently banished her children to their bedrooms so she can think straight. Find her on Facebook.

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