I’m a young mother with depression and confidence issues

I'm a young mother with depression and confidence issues

Dear Mookychick,

I’m a young mother with depression and confidence issues so I hope you can give me some confidence advice. I had a baby when I was fifteen leaving me with hideous stretch marks and thirty extra pounds, I’m now eighteen and deathly afraid of going out in public.

Before I got pregnant I was typical rebellious chick with high as the sky confidence, I was always out doing my own thing and didn’t care what anyone thought of how I dressed or acted.

I’m not ashamed of having a baby so young but I don’t recommend it either. After I had my baby everything changed. My parents decided it was time for us to move to another town (away from all my friends), I had to stay in all the time and soon lost contact with everyone. I found out my father was doing heroin, my boyfriend had left me and my mom was working her butt off just to hold everything together. Even asking someone to babysit so I could go out for a few minutes made me feel so guilty, I rarely asked. One night I decided to finally go see my best friend after a few long months, we went to a local hang out and several other people were there. Normally I would have felt so happy but instead I was scared.

Within the last two years I managed to get myself a boyfriend and we are now engaged, my baby and I both live with him. I am a lot closer in location to my friends now but never call them, my boyfriend always tries to get me out of the house but he has to force me.

So enough with the pity party, how do I get my confidence back? How can I go to a public place without staring at the floor and wondering what people are thinking about me?

How do I get myself back?

Love, Anonymous Me xxx

The Mookychick answer to your problem

Amanda says…

Firstly, I think you’re being sooo hard on yourself. Instead of beating yourself up you should be patting yourself on the back for coping so well with a baby at such a young age . And dealing with all the unsettling family moves and problems. Having a baby at any age is a major life-change, and an unplanned teenage pregnancy wrenches you from adolescent school-life into being a responsible adult and is bound to be a major shock to the system with all the traumatic adjustments that go with it. To be settled with your toddler and engaged to a lovely new man after such a rollercoaster is surely something to be happy and proud of. When all this eventually sinks in, you’ll start to feel much more confident.

You say you used to be a typical rebellious chick with sky high confidence. The new you sounds really mature and stable. Have you ever considered the idea that your life may have changed so much that you’ve outgrown your friends? Perhaps this is why you feel so uncomfortable in their company? I’m taking it that you’re not agoraphobic and you do go out, or you wouldn’t have met your new fiancĂ©. Is the problem more to do with going out with your old mates and feeling uneasy in their company? It’s always difficult meeting up with people you haven’t seen for a long time and moreso if you’re different – physically and mentally. Understandably, you’ve been rather busy over the past couple of years and have lost touch with your best friend. Friendships take effort to maintain – if you want to continue being friends, you both have to meet each other half way. I feel you should work on this first before throwing yourself into hanging out with a whole gang of people. You both need time to chat and get to know each other again to be comfortable in her wider circle of friends. But be prepared that you might find you don’t have anything in common anymore and it’s time to move on and seek new pals. I don’t think you’ll find things half as scary if you approach the problem this way.

Also, start off by going for walks in the park with your boyf and the little one, then progress to more social sojourns. You’ll find no-ones staring at you and there’s no reason to feel self conscious. If you still feel anxious and depressed, you may have post natal depression and should seek professional help. But don’t give in straight away – you sound like a very strong woman – just give yourself some time and a little bit of slack.

Char says…

Hey honey Well, so far so good. You’re not on crack, you’re in a stable relationship, things are secure as they can be for you and you’ve gone through a whole heap of sh*t and come out not so bad. You clearly love your baby and of course your new man. Your issue, then, is confidence. Ah. The holy grail of social scenarios; some of us have bucket loads of it, some of us have a little sand castle we’ve built with a small spade. You’ll often find that the show-offs have even less than you do. Good for you so far for facing all your problems head on.

I think this will take time. To have a child when you’re young with next to no parental support (dad on heroin, mum working a zillion hours), plus to lose your support network found in your friends (moving away etc) with all the letdowns from people who are supposed to know better, is it any wonder you’re scraping the bottom of the self-esteem barrel? And feeling guilty about being apart from your baby for even just a fraction of a minute… well, that could be because you just don’t want to repeat the mistakes of your folks… or perhaps you’ve got a touch of the baby blues?

First things first. If you look good you’ll feel good, so wash your hair, buy some new clothes (doesn’t have to be dead expensive, any kind of clothes look good if you dress for your shape), make sure you follow a beauty regime, do your hair, put your face on. From my experience of being down and depressed, making these efforts contributes highly to getting back on track. Everyone experiences depression to some degree and one helpful trick is to make a list of stuff to do and be done with it each day. I don’t mean gargantuan tasks like ‘new life’ or ‘shimmy on a pole in the biggest most busiest nightclub wearing showgirl pants’. I mean basic small things like ’empty the bin’ or ‘make bed as soon as venture out of it’ – and venture out you will. Try this for one week if you can:

* Get out of bed at same time each day regardless of energy levels or quality of sleep
* Drink tons and tons of water and try to eat healthily and limit your alcohol intake
* Go out every day. Even if its to the shop and back, five minutes to begin with, then ten, then 15 and build up from there
* Go for a coffee on your own, people watch, look for their flaws, realise that we all have them, noone is airbrushed in Starbucks.
* Write a small list of basic menial tasks that you can do each day. For instance, get up at 8am and have cereal, then, at 12 take out the bin, then at say, 1pm, check your email. 4pm finish that thing you’ve been putting off.
The basic thing is to create achievable goals, little ones at first then getting on to big ones. They will make you feel satisfied you’ve done something on time as you said you would and with the satisfaction of feeling more in control comes confidence in your own abilities as a funcitoning human being. With the regime, routine and looking good, you can then begin to feel good too.

Another trick is to write down everything you feel in a diary. Be candid and let it flow. Alternatively, write down all the negative things you feel onto a bit of paper and set fire to it in the garden. Try to let it go, and throw it out as the trash it is.
Soon, with some positive thinking as a routine, regime and a bit of personal grooming, get out of the house and take it slow. Change doesn’t happen over night but nothing will happen if you don’t change!
Good luck. It can be done!

Ashley says…

Imagine your child in your position. You don’t say if it’s a boy or a girl, but the problems you detail – even hitting adulthood and gaining 30 lb and stretchmarks, without having had a baby (I’m sure I’m not the only girl who’s had a boyfriend in that state) – are universal.

What would you tell your child? You’d say what it sounds like your family was too messed up to build you up with – Baby, I love you. You’re beautiful. Love your body. Treat it well. Our scars and our weight are evidence of where we’ve been. They are our history. You’re solid because that’s how human beings survived for most of our existence – we had to hold on to that weight or else we’d starved.

Don’t be afraid of going outside. Pretend. You belong. Every footstep. Act it and you’ll start to feel it. Imagine your child at your age, with the staggering responsibility of their own child. And they say, Mom, I don’t deserve a babysitter. I should stay home, again. You’d tell your child that they absolutely deserve a baby-sitter, a break, a nap, a night out, a good meal where you don’t have to clean up afterwards.

Those people around you? They’re terrified and worried and heartbroken about their own problems – which most likely include “Am I ever going to find a fiancee? Am I ever going to have a baby?, which you’ve already handled. If they’ve got the time to mentally piss on you, all the more reason to smile and pretend you own the place. It doesn’t get any harder than what you’ve gone through – you are never again going to be a terrified 15-year-old with a new baby and a frazzled family and a junkie dad and no steady sidekick – which means it’s never going to be that bad again.

Imagine what you’d tell your baby. And tell yourself. For both of you.