When people become parents for the first time, they have worries like: will I be a good parent? Will I love my child? Will I cope? Will I be a natural? We all have these worries – I know I did. I definitely had some other ones thrown in there just to help my anxiety a bit more. I worried about the weight gain, the lack of control, having to eat things that scared me, and worse of all, if somehow maybe I would pass on my eating disorder to my children.
I often get asked, “how do I cope with mental health and having children?” But honestly, in the beginning, it was fine. However, now that my eldest is 6, I struggle with it more. I am definitely more aware of what I say and how I behave in front of them. I try and not make food the centre of our daily conversations. I have noticed that my 6 year old has started to ask questions like, why I don’t eat what they eat or “Mummy, why do you always eat the same thing?” Children are so much smarter than we think – its actually frightening. So, I always make sure I sit down and eat dinner with them. DIET is also like a swear word in our house. It’s not allowed to be said. We like to use the phrase, “We are going to be healthy and eat healthy food.”
As a parent, I try my hardest to keep them safe from all the horrible things that are going on in the world and to teach them to always be kind and mindful of others. The thing I struggle with the most is that for all that I teach them, they still may pick up my bad habits along the way. My only advantage is that I can recognise the signs and I’ll act on them straight away. Parenting, for me, has helped me in more ways than I could ever have imagined. I honestly think if I hadn’t fallen pregnant with my boys, then I probably wouldn’t be here today. I’m not fully recovered from an eating disorder by a long stretch, but I have come so far and for me becoming a parent was a lifesaver. I had to think of someone else other than myself.
So how do I manage my eating disorder with having children?? My answer is simply, I have to; they are my lifeline.