Mama, you lost your mojo!
Have you lost your identity after becoming a mum? Here’s how you can reclaim it.
A mojo can be a fragile thing. We’re not aware of it until we lose it. Our emotions change from year to year and day to day and indeed minute to minute. We can feel on-top-of-the-world at one point in our lives and then an event or a reoccurring problem can bring it all crashing down on us and our mojos can disappear without trace, just like Austin Power’s did, and leave us feeling tired and uninspired. Yeah baby!
The definition for mojo in the Cambridge Dictionary is ‘a quality that attracts people to you and makes you successful and full of energy’. This definition makes a lot of sense when I consider how I felt when I’d lost my mojo – permanently tired and invisible at social functions – none of which made me feel much of a success!
From my experience, my early to late 20’s was the golden time when anything seemed possible. I left Art College, got involved in a student film and that’s where I was lucky enough to meet my future boss, Mick Campbell. Mick was a very wise and knowledgeable man who’d worked for MGM studios from the bottom up and was instrumental in helping me to express a strong opinion and making me more confident. He would playfully provoke me about subjects I felt strongly about. Being an art school graduate, he would challenge British artists of the time, like Tracey Emin’s unmade bed, Rachel Whiteread’s ‘House’ and the rest of the YBA. I worked for him putting sound effects on war documentaries for 3 years and to this day I can still tell the difference between the sound of a Spitfire and a Stuka dive bomber!
A mix of luck and bravado landed me a job in Rome as a video editor in a massive Satellite TV station for 3 years. Every day felt like a dream, or a beautiful stage set of buzzing mopeds carrying perfectly poised, beautiful and relaxed Italians. It was like living on holiday and it was impossible not to relax and enjoy life with the heat, evocative smells of mopeds mixed with pizza, blue skies and cascading vines. Suffice it to say I gained a stone in weight in a year. I had niggles but generally felt happy and confident.
When I returned to blighty, living in London was a rude awakening. My beautiful stage had morphed into a bleak, cold, washed-out, ‘Eastenders’ set, complete with Pauline Fowler down the launderette.
Shortly after returning I discovered that my mother had breast cancer. I then had a series of unsatisfying jobs and in a short time I began to wonder whether I really had been dreaming. I wasn’t aware of it but this is where my mojo started to fade.
I moved to Brighton and by the time I was 33 had my first child and shortly afterwards developed depression. One day I looked in the mirror and realised I’d actually turned into Pauline Fowler, complete with dowdy clothes and the moan of the washing machine in the background!
Whilst many mums who develop post-natal depression manage to overcome it by themselves within a few months, a recent study in the Lancet suggests that ‘around 30% of women remain unwell beyond the first year after childbirth and there is high risk (around 40%) of subsequent postnatal and non-postnatal relapse.’
I wish I’d realised that I had post-natal depression back then but I was too busy to know for sure. This report shows that it’s very important to deal with it early on.
My children are a blessing to me but the stress of being a prime carer and having no clear direction of where I was going was making me unhappy. I had assumed that being a mother meant giving myself to my children, possibly at the expense of my own needs, but I longed to have creative projects and variety too. I stopped doing a lot of what I love, like painting and singing. I craved and coveted my partner’s exciting stories of work and the outside world.
I think that if you’re a mum and you don’t have a good network of support and you stop going out because it’s too difficult and you stop doing what you love because you’ve lost the point, you can feel as though you’ve lost your identity and that can be pretty scary.
One day I woke up and knew something had to be done. I tried acupuncture, counselling, homeopathy and that set me on the right road to recovery. Community is also very important to help recovery and I joined a choir, wrote a mad song, started a screenwriting course, wrote a screenplay and started to sense that my mojo was lurking around somewhere in the wings. I also discovered EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique – A holistic therapy involving tapping on your hands and face while focussing on your emotions and where they are held in your body) and that was instrumental in helping me break my negative patterns. I started developing a healthier attitude to being a mum. I looked after my children’s needs and made sure I fit in things that made my heart sing too.
Nowadays, I love the fact that I can feel my mojo coming back. It’s hard to define but it’s like an inner knowing, a trust in myself and an excitement about the future – and even though my mojo is more mature and experienced – it makes me feel younger.
Here’s my list of top tips for reawakening your sleeping mojo!
- Look at your situation from lots of angles to try to get perspective. Turn your situation on its head and do something different – surprise yourself! Even if it’s taking a different route to work, changing routines, following crazy-sounding dreams – in my opinion the crazy the better!
- Eat healthily – There is a wealth of knowledge on the internet but maybe book in to see a Nutritionist as food can play a large part in making you feel unwell.
- Join a club – anything that gets you interacting and enjoying yourself. This may be the last thing that you feel like doing but connecting up to your community is so important for recovery.
- Live differently – do unusual new activities, reawakening past passions.
- Try alternative therapies – Reflexology, Emotional Freedom Technique, NLP, Homeopathy, the list is endless. Doing these can help you see your situation from a different angle.
- Seek help – talk to a friend or a professional. Get support from on-line groups like ‘Netmums’.