How I Got Over Anxious Mum Syndrome

It is no secret that my anxiety skyrocketed after I gave birth to Bub. After four months I was getting confident going out to the park and visiting friends in their homes (on my own with Bub). We had gone to a birthday party, the shopping centre, the nursery and two short bushwalks.

That was it. That was with my partner too (my security blanket).

I was content to stay at home for the rest of our lives. Partly because I am rather lazy, partly because I am an occasional introvert, but mostly because of Anxious Mum Syndrome. 

When Bub was 19 weeks old there was an event that I had to go to. There was no getting out of it. It was a wedding. A massive, loud, extravagant wedding.

A family member was getting married. My partner was in the bridal party. It was the type of wedding that I would have probably loved in a previous life, when I could drink and had little responsibility.

As for the new me, it was my worst freaking nightmare.

I like to think that I would not have gotten so anxious about it if my partner was going to be with me. I knew he was leaving early in the morning. I knew he would be busy during the ceremony and the reception and also in between. So I started to worry well in advance. I won’t even go into all the things I was worried about because that would take 10,000 words to write. I think there was approximately three months worth of worry that peaked on the wedding day.

I managed to do my hair (I washed it) and put on makeup in two minutes. I managed to get myself and Bub to the ceremony successfully. When I arrived I got out of the car and saw a brother in law. He stupidly asked how I was. I lost it. I burst into tears.

From that point on there was no point hiding my anxiety. I was honest with everyone. If people asked me if I was ok I told the truth, that I was practically consumed with worry and fear.  I didn’t want to pretend. I wanted support.

I do not regret showing my ‘weakness’. I think it was the best thing I could have done that day. Not everyone understood, not everyone said helpful comments, but (I hope) no one judged me and boy did I get a lot of support.

Thanks to that day, being forced to confront my fears, I have realised two things.

The first is that my family in law really do care and would do anything for me. I don’t see them often and I don’t talk to some of them very much. I underestimated the help I would get at the wedding. But my mind was blown. They held and entertained Bub, they changed her nappy, they rocked her to sleep (well through lots of crying then eventually to sleep). They sat with me when I needed to escape. They listened to all my anxious rants. They ensured me everything would be fine.

Guess what? Everything was fine. Not great, but fine.

The second thing I realised that day is that no matter what happens when I am out with Bub, everything will be OK in the end. Bub barely slept that day. She was absolutely beyond overstimulated (my worst fear!). There were tears but not as many as I predicted. She still fell asleep at night. She still smiled and giggled and me the next day. She didn’t hold a grudge at me. Maybe that will kick in in a few years time.

I now feel like a weight has being lifted of my chest. I feel like Anxious Mum Syndrome has dissipated. I doubt it has completely gone away. I know I will get anxious in the future, it is just me.

I do feel more confident though and more relaxed when it comes to going out with Bub. I feel like I will be more willing to say yes to things instead of ‘Sorry, I can’t come’.  

Thanks for reading.

Wedding flowers Sustayable Me
Wedding flowers

Something Is Fishy

Years ago my friend and I were getting fish and chips. We were on the South Coast, NSW, Australia. I remember her telling me she was going to buy and eat blackfish because it was locally caught and a sustainable option. “Good for you”, I thought. I bought the blackfish too and since then I have had it every time I go to that takeaway place.

Fishing Sustayable Me
We have to buy fish because we don’t seem to ever catch any.

As for the rest of the seafood I eat, I have been really slack lately. I know overfishing is a huge problem. I teach my students that. I know conserving fish species is really important to help protect marine ecosystems. I am awesome at drawing food webs and I teach my students to consider the impact of a changing one species population number on the rest of the food web.

Unfortunately I have let convenience and price determine what seafood I buy. I have pushed seafood sustainability to the back of my mind. I want my canned tuna and I want it now! But that is going to change. I need to change it.

Well over 30% of global fish populations are overfished. Some fishing practices are really dodgy too, like the ones that involve bycatch (this means other marine animals may be caught, apart from just the species intended to be fished.) There are 17 different ocean fishing zones around the world. Every single one of them is over exploited. 13 of them are becoming or are already depleted. There are certain types of fish that everyone seems intent on only eating – tuna, salmon, shark and prawns. We don’t actually intend to eat shark but when we buy fish and chips it is normally what is served up.  

Australia’s fishing industry is actually pretty good. It’s regulation and management makes it one of the best in the world. Awesome, go Australia! But 70% of the seafood we buy is imported, mostly from Asia. I know I currently buy all of my seafood at the supermarket (shame!). If you look at the signs on the chilled fish at the counter it tells you where the fish came from. Some of it is from Australia but a lot of it comes from Vietnam, China etc. I bet it would really difficult to find a frozen, processed or canned seafood product in the supermarket that contains seafood from Australia.

Do you think this sounds bad too? Are you wondering what we can do? Well I am no expert and I am not going to tell you what to do, but I will tell you what I am personally going to do.

I am going to stop eating seafood.

Just kidding. I’m not going to stop because when I eat seafood it makes me think that I’m healthy and I don’t feel as bad for eating a block of chocolate. Go Omega 3!

I know I should stop eating seafood because the reality is that seafood is not a sustainable food option at all, but I am going to take baby steps. Here are some things I am prepared to do as of now:

  • If I buy a can of tuna I’m going to look for skipjack tuna because it is a less exploited species. I am going to avoid yellow fin tuna. I’m going to look for pole and line caught tuna and something that says FAD free on the can. (FAD = fish aggregating device).
  • I’m going to try to eat more local seafood and less important seafood. For me this means looking for Australian seafood.
  • If I’m getting fish and chips, or eating at a restaurant, I’m going to choose more sustainable choices. I hear whiting, silver perch, sardines, flathead and barramundi are good options. If the seafood isn’t labelled I am going to ask what is it and where it came from. I am going to avoid eating flake (shark).
  • I am going to use the Australian Sustainable Seafood Guide app to help me make better choices.

I know I am just one individual (one little fish in the big ocean), but if we all start making more informed decisions when buying seafood we can send a message. To the supermarkets, to the restaurants, to the wholesalers etc. Also, I am a role model and I can educate Bub. Bub is going to be Prime Minister and change the world. Overfishing will be the first problem she solves. No pressure Bub.

Sustainable Tuna Sustayable Me
Look what I already had in my pantry. I am totally rocking this!