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Monday, April 14, 2014

Social Media, Post Partum and My Life - An Ongoing Battle.

A few days ago I was offering advice on a Facebook group that I belong to about anxiety as a first time mom. This wasn't in any special group, another one of those mommy-clubs that are over represented on social media. This particular group is just a bunch of women who shared the same month of pregnancy; a due date club or what have you, nothing else other than the date of conception, morning sickness commiseration's, and the sharing of birth stories and milestones to keep the group a cohesive unit.

It's not that I needed to join another group of mothers, I have plenty of real life amazing girlfriends and a tribe within my own parenting circle of almost 10 years. However, for some reason I am drawn to the first time mom to help and support her. This is probably because I felt so alone and isolated when I, myself, was a first time mom.

As the story goes, I gave this mother some heartfelt advice and it was not well received. Since the invention of Facebook I have noticed new mothers are increasingly more unsure of their new life, maybe because we post statuses every couple hours and our whole lives are up for public scrutiny. I reached out to try and quell some fears that she had on illness, about this whole vaccine crisis, about how everything is risky, and we just have to live our lives well in spite of that. She disagreed vehemently with my viewpoint and it was actually some of the most hurtful words that have ever been thrown my way. This may have been from fear, insecurity or just anger - I am not sure really; but it has profoundly changed the way that I think about myself at the moment.

I have been struggling with post partum depression for a while, and I find that my viewpoint of myself is really coloured by ppd. It's hard to tell what are normal feelings and which ones are exacerbated by the illogical side effects of depression. On a regular day this would have been water off my back, but because of my ppd I have been stressing about it, over analysing and over thinking 2 paragraphs of hurtful comments that happened over a week ago.

This one chance encounter really made me look at why I participate in these online mommy groups, and why I feel that I should be giving advice to people who don't want it, didn't ask for it, and probably really don't need it from some random stranger online. I know that I go into a helping mode so that I don't have to pay attention to the insecurities and fears that I have surrounding my own abilities as a mother. That for me the internet is somewhere to hide when my depression is all encompassing and incredibly hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's somewhere that I can distract myself from the chaos that surrounds me and try and help those who look like they need support when I can't figure out how to support myself.  

This mother told me in not so many words to fuck off, that she hadn't asked for my advice. That I am self-centered and condescending. Patronising even. Pretty much the exact opposite of what I try to be in my life. 

I am not sure if I would have taken it so much to heart if I wasn't in the midst of post-partum, but her words cut so deep to the core that it is hard to get past them. The logical part of my brain tells me that this is insane to continue to feel anxiety and sadness over this as it is just one woman who I don't even know in real life. Just a random mom on the internet with a difference of opinion. Just like me.  I can't help but wonder if she lashed out because of her fears and her insecurities or if it really is a case of me putting my nose where it really shouldn't have been. (as I have been guilty of the latter before.)

All I know is that perhaps my time to help the insecure and frightened mothers online is really a losing battle. It's not for the faint of heart and truth be told I am much too sensitive. I can't take many attacks to my vulnerable spirit. The torch must be passed on and as much as I would like to think that new mothers want the advice that older more experienced mothers have - it's not really so. I remember as a first time mom how much I thought I already knew, and wasn't really open to getting any advice even though I was so desperately lonely and really needed someone to hold my hand.

It's only when you have been a mother for a while do you see value in those that came before. 
This isn't to say that I won't continue to help mothers in need of validation or support as that would go against my very nature. However, I am going to focus on the people I interact with on a real life basis and leave the Facebook couch psychology realm for some other mother/ activist
who is not so burnt out and who doesn't need the support herself. 

So as with everything, this was a wake up call to get my spirit out of the Facebook world where it can so easily get trampled and place it back into my body where it belongs. I guess I should be grateful for that. 


Party of 5 said...

I'm sorry to hear about that experience. It's so hard to capture what we "meant', and it really sucks that simple advice can be turned into something more.
Truly, I do not have FB, but any online community can get a bit messy especially when moms get to talking.

Dana said...

I let little things bother me way more than I should. Although I guess let is the wrong word because it's not like I can help it. I tend to protect myself by not speaking up if I'm worried it will stir things up.

I'm sorry you had such a negative experience.

Merry120 said...

Hugs to you Alisha! It's so funny to me when people post things on FB about what they should do, feel, etc and then when they hear something they don't want to they say "I didn't ask you". Well, actually, you did. No where in your post did you say "Only those with the same opinion as mine need reply." It is her loss b/c you are a great mommy with much to share.

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