In recent months I have opened up on my blog about my history with postnatal depression and my road to recovery. One thing I haven’t talked about (but can often be a by product of mental illness) is my huge lack of self-confidence.
Over the last year I have been on an enormous journey; my whole life, and perspective of that life, has shifted. This time last year I was recovering from postnatal depression after having my third child. I was also coming to the end of my maternity leave from my job as a primary school teacher.
As I was preparing for my return to work, I worried if I would be able to cope as a teacher again. I was only working part time but I was also taking care of everything at home with three young children and a husband who worked very long hours. I started back at work after Easter 2017 but knew immediately it wasn’t for me. It was lovely to see workmates again but confidence in myself and my abilities was at an all time low, so I opted to step out of the working world for a while and concentrate on being mum, as well as making the most of my youngest being so little.
One thing with depression that isn’t talked about as much is lack of self-confidence. It’s a bit of a chicken and the egg quandary, some believe that low self-confidence can lead to depression, while others say that depression can lead to low self-confidence. I feel the latter was true for me.
Work that works
It was at about this time, after handing in my notice, that I stumbled upon Digital Mums and their #WorkThatWorks Social Media Management Course on Facebook. I have always used some sort of social media (facebook and pinterest mainly), but the world of twitter, instagram and snapchat were all totally new to me. I read up on their course and thought what a perfect fit it could be for my life right now. With three young children and a husband who worked very long hours, I wanted to be around for the school run, open mornings and sports days, but I also wanted to put my mind to some use. Having such low confidence in myself, I thought online learning and working with social media would actually be a great idea – no need to step out of the house if I didn’t want to! (The introvert’s dream!!) I couldn’t have been more wrong though…
My amazing peer group
On starting the course, I was immediately put into a peer group with six other mums. We all had a very different story to tell as to how we had reached that point but we all had one thing in common – wanting more flexible work for ourselves and our families. It was quite intimidating at first, talking on google hangouts, but then it became like second nature. Our chats on WhatsApp also made me laugh out loud daily. We all liked a good gif and we weren’t afraid to use one! I had read that the peer groups were a lifesaver for this course and mine really was – I was so lucky to have such an amazingly supportive group of women behind me. They kept me going on more than one occasion.
Very soon into the course I needed to think of an idea for my own grass roots social media campaign. I knew immediately I wanted to do something related to my history with mental health and postnatal depression – the one thing that had brought me to this point in studying with Digital Mums. This was how Happy Headspace came about.
As the weeks rolled by, I started to really love learning again. I was learning amazing new skills and putting them into practice immediately on my three platforms; twitter, instagram and facebook. More than just learning new skills though, I discovered how wonderfully social the world of social media really is! I was talking to like-minded people online and I was also getting out and about more in my local area too, meeting them face-to-face! For the first time in such a long time, I was gaining confidence in myself and my abilities.
I made the right decision
The training itself came with massive highs but also some big lows too. I have had to juggle my studies and managing my campaign with a busy home life and next to no childcare – and often next to no sleep either! It just highlighted to me though that I had made the right decision in choosing Digital Mums. If my child is unwell and off school, I am there for them and can fit my work in at another time. The flexibility of this course and future work is key for us as a family. I can be there for my children when they need me, but I can also be someone other than just mum, something I didn’t think was even possible until only recently.
Since starting my Happy Headspace campaign, I have been on such a journey. Choosing a topic so close to my heart has meant I have bared my soul to the online world on more than one occasion, especially in my instagram and Happy Headspace blog posts. It has allowed me to give mental health a voice though and I am so proud of what it has achieved so far.
Something I have absolutely loved about the Digital Mums course was finding such a supportive community; in the other digital mums within my peer group, but also in the online community, where real discussion is taking place every day about mental health problems and what can be done to end the stigma around them. I have learnt so much about myself in doing this course; I am strong and determined, and I can put my mind to whatever I want to. It has changed my life completely.
As one door closes, another door opens
As I hand in the final report for my social media management course, one door is closing behind me but another one is opening up in front, with an exciting future ahead of me. I have regained so much confidence in myself that had been robbed by my poor mental health and time away from the workplace. I have rediscovered my love of learning and my passion to voice mental health awareness. I will be looking into further study, in what I’m not quite sure yet, but it will be to support and continue what I have started with Happy Headspace. My campaign will continue, albeit at a slightly slower pace while I enjoy a well earned rest!
I would highly recommend the Digital Mums course to any mum who has been away from the workplace for a little while, or working mums who are looking for more flexible work around their children. It most certainly is #WorkThatWorks! I am excited to see what the future holds for me now…