One of the most challenging things about being a slightly anxious person is all the activity your brain does. It is, definitely the strongest part of my body. Even when my legs have stopped walking, my fingers have stopped typing, my mouth has stopped talking, my ears have stopped listening... my brain just keeps on thinking. Sometimes, it never seems like it will stop.
What is the topic on my mind at the moment? The biggest decision I've ever made... and the doubt that comes along afterwards that I've made the wrong one. Please brain, stop thinking about it so much... It's getting exhausting now.
My husband and I, for a whole load of reasons, have recently decided to stop at 2 kids (after quite a long time talking, debating, thinking, budgeting, planning, questioning). This decision was becoming a big issue for me as I started convincing myself we would never actually make it. It ended up being a HUGE mental load and started impacting on my ability to think clearly about anything else.
From almost the minute my son, our second child, was born I was certain I didn't want anymore kids. Shortly after getting home from the hospital I set out designing a ring that had the birthstones of the 3 important people in my life - my husband, my daughter and my new son. My family was complete - I was complete.
Postnatal depression set in when my son was 8 weeks old. It the start of the loneliest, darkest, most difficult time of my life and confirmation that I definitely didn't want any more children. What intelligent human would ever put themselves in a position like that again? Not me, that's for sure. Time to re-decorate our bedroom as the baby had moved into his own room and I was excited about claiming our little piece of the house for ourselves.
My return to work - what a blessing! A great place, wonderful people, a job I enjoyed on the days I wanted. I was pretty lucky to land that dream job... and there was no way having another baby was going to get in the way of it! More confirmation that stopping at 2 was the right thing to do.
The start of swimming training, leading to a return to triathlons. Wow, it felt so good to exercise. I had the time because the baby wasn't breastfeeding anymore. I had the energy because he was sleeping through the night. I fit into my pre-baby body swimmers - bonus! I was starting to do the things I used to do before kids - like exercising! Further confirmation that 2 babies was enough for me.
It was all decided. We were done.
Then we started slowly getting rid of all the 'baby' stuff. Enter doubt, stage left.
This is when my brain kicked into overdrive. Fuelled by the return of my period and all the related hormones telling my body it was time to start reproducing again, my brain switched on... and stayed on... for 6 months.
All of a sudden, I found myself thinking about it ALL THE TIME! I would catch myself browsing buy,swap,sell Facebook pages for baby clothes then just as quickly, I'd be registering for an enticer triathlon in the upcoming summer. One day I'd be soaking up the anti-depressant goodness my medication gave me and the next I'd be waking up at 2am after a nightmare reminder of how unwell I was. Almost in an instant I'd go from downloading a period tracker app onto my phone to giving away our baby monitor to some young, new mum for free!
Over the 6 months, I was incredibly up and down - one day hot, the next day cold. It was exhausting... and it still is. Because although my husband and I have finally made a decision together to stop at 2 (and we've even done something about permanently stopping it from happening again), my brain won't stop thinking about it. And like before the decision was made, my thoughts and feelings are annoyingly inconsistent. My thumbs are up one day and down the next. I could wake up one morning convinced we have done the right thing then go to bed the same night convinced we've been too hasty.
All I crave, is a return to normal brain activity. Think about it every so often, sure. But think about other stuff too.
What I really need is acceptance. I need to learn how to ACCEPT the decision we have made and to do that, I need to first ACKNOWLEDGE a decision has been made. I need to somehow breathe in the acceptance and breathe out the doubt. But how on earth do I do that?
I could see a counsellor - they'd listen. Maybe even give me some advice. I could do some 'mindfullness' stuff. I could meditate? Maybe I could be hypnotised!
I know... or at least, I have an idea. It might not turn my brain off completely to the topic. It might not ease the pressure straight away. It might not help at all! But I have a feeling it will. When my brain has been busy and my mind and thoughts are in overdrive... when every waking moment has seemed to be filled with questions and doubt... I've done it. And it may just work this time.
Yes, I know what I could do... I could write it all down.