Being a mother of four, my body has changed dramatically, I hated my body before pregnancy, fell in love with my bump during and after giving birth I looked in the mirror and saw an alien staring back at me. What on earth had happened to me?
This year I published my book 'Stretched' sharing my journey and how I found self love and body confidence. This year my mental health hit an all time low. I started to question, has being body confident and finding self love made my mental health worse?
The answer is of course no it hasn’t! But why has my mental health hit an all time low then? In my book I am honest and open about how I have felt over the years, there is a lot in there that I haven’t admitted to myself let alone anyone else before, I have been completely transparent and in doing so I have opened up a can on worms.
I have opened up to taking about my mental health, when before I would just cover up with a brave face, I wouldn’t show my struggle because I worried what people would think of me, that they would think less of me, that people would judge me, that people would think I was a fraud.
What finding confidence has given me is permission to be honest about how I am feeling emotionally. I am human, as are you, we all go through the rollercoaster that is life, we have good days, we have bad days and some days haunt us. Through sharing my body image issues as a mother, my hang ups with my mum tum, stretch marks, boobs and everything else in between has made me realise that I am not alone in how I feel about my body. This feeling of others going through similar self esteem issues made me question, if perhaps I am not alone with my mental health issues.
Last week I got an email from BBC radio Oxford asking me to speak as part of a series of inspirational local women. As I was reading the email I was sat in the waiting room of the Doctors petrified that my name was about to be called and I would have to admit that I am struggling, with no idea how to phrase it so I don’t sound completely bat shit crazy. I laughed under my breath fighting back the tears at the irony, feeling like a complete imposter. Who am I to talk about being inspirational when I’m admitting I need help?
I didn’t reply right away, I thought about it and later on I decided that yes I was going to take up the offer, it’s an absolute honour to be recommended as an inspirational woman, I am so passionate about my mission to empower 10,000 women to conquer their body image issues and guide them on their self love journey by the end of 2020. Finding happiness from within is a struggle but it brings so much more in all areas of your life not just for your personal confidence but your belief in yourself as a mother, friend, partner, business woman/employee, I know that everyone is capable of it if we all made a little time and pulled together to work through it.
I will be going on the radio, I will be telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth about where I was when I received the email, I’m no longer prepared to pretend everything’s okay when I’m crumbling inside. Being confident and happy is a feeling of content, being content in life, it has freed me from worrying about what others think about if I look fat in this outfit, if so and so is talking behind my back or worrying if I’ve said the wrong thing and it has given me the time and head space to realise that I’m struggling in other areas of life and it’s given me the strength and the courage to ask for help.
I’m a self helper, I love to try and fix myself and clearly I have managed to do this over a long time for my relationship with my body, but there are some wars that you cannot defeat on your own, sometimes you need a whole Kingdom to back your Queen to conquer the fight.
If you feel alone, please know that you’re not, we might not be going through the same thing, but reach out, don’t suffer in silence. I really want to open up the conversation around mental health, especially when it comes to being a mother and dealing with it. I have started a support group called ’Stretched mamas’ if you need to rant, to find some support or be cheered up with funny memes and gifs, come and join us, sending you big hugs from one stretched mama to another.
With love & gratitude,
Ana Louise Bonasera
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Ana Louise Bonasera, mum of 4 boys, girl power enthusiast.