Being a new father is an incredibly vulnerable time, fuelled by many stressors that can trigger some pretty strong and difficult emotions.
At times I felt overwhelmed, worried and scared about being responsible for a new baby. I noticed that these sometimes emotions impacted my behaviour, from snapping at people and isolating myself to avoiding confrontation and bottling everything up.
Once the baby was home, I noticed my wife was no longer the main priority in my life and I was no longer hers. I also noticed it was easy for us to neglect each other’s emotional needs, so that the smallest, most trivial matters sometimes grew into mountains.
As blokes, sometimes talking about our emotions isn’t a skill we’re good at. Even though a lot of us are getting better at it, sometimes it’s easier to supress emotions and shut them away.
But when we do this, we’re really we’re just putting these emotions on the back burner, where they brew away slowly and all it takes is one small trigger for them to boil over, usually in the form of our behaviour. We may stop talking to our partner, self-sabotage, avoid, withdraw or get into some unhelpful or reckless behaviours which will just keep us in this vicious cycle.
But we need to be aware that we’re in a vicious cycle before we can break it. If you find, as a new dad, your emotions are becoming unmanageable and starting to impact your relationships, work or family, the first and most important step is to actually acknowledge these emotions are impacting your life so you can do something about it. This is probably not a situation where “It’ll be right mate.”
Reaching out for help and talking about these emotions can be incredibly helpful. It is often difficult to open up to people within your own support circle due to fear of judgement or not wanting to burden them, so consider speaking to your GP, who can refer you to someone external and unbiased.
St John of God Raphael Services provides specialist emotional support and counselling for new dads from conception until their child turns four years old. With locations in Victoria, Western Australia and New South Wales, see your GP for a referral to your nearest location.
Healthy Men, Healthy Minds photo competition
During Men’s Health Week, you can win a DJI Mini SE Drone by sharing your photo showing a special moment between a child and a significant man in their life through our Healthy Men, Healthy Minds photo competition.
Mental health Perinatal mental health Community services
When it comes to the strong feelings that are part of becoming a new dad, I came to learn that I had to be OK with not being OK – at least for a little while. But this Men’s Health Week, we’re acknowledging that sometimes it’s really not OK and that’s when it’s time to seek professional support.