This is a guest blog post from Suzanne Vernazza - a pelvic health physiotherapist both within the NHS and through her private clinic. She is also founder of Know Your Floors, a not-for-profit organisation, working to raise awareness, provide support and break taboos around pelvic floor issues.


Suzanne is amazing at what she does - and has been my absolute saving grace throughout my postpartum recovery. Here she writes about imposter syndrome, in a beautifully honest and open post about motherhood. I am sure you will enjoy reading it as much as I did.


 

When Zoe asked me to do a blog for her website I was initially thrilled, but then I immediately thought - I can’t write a blog. Putting things down into words has never been my strength. In fact I sat for about 5 minutes trying to think of the word strength!


But as I sit here writing this blog I immediately recognise that this fear and lack of self-confidence is self-driven and only I can change this. This so called imposter-syndrome set in for me after I became pregnant. Before then I was sharp, quick and so logical. I was successful at work and perhaps at times even over confident in my ability. But, I was hard-working, proud and achieved a lot.

I remember the first time my brain didn’t work properly. I was 8 months pregnant with my first child and was in the chemist buying maternity pads ready for the impending labour! I was at the till about to pay but I could not remember my PIN number. Let’s put this into perspective. At this point in my life I only had 1 card with a PIN number I had used since my late teens. I’d remembered this PIN number without fail for well over 10 years. I stood, frozen, starting to panic about how I was going to pay. I talked to myself, come on you know this number. I confidently prodded at the key pad - wrong PIN!!! I then madly searched my purse for cash. No cash! Tried another number, still wrong. I could feel my heart rate rising - only one chance left before I locked my one and only card. I felt so clueless as the girl on the till looked at me with impatient eyes and I became more aware of the person behind me in the queue. I quickly flicked through my phone, hoping for some inspiration. Could I call a friend? In the end I had to walk away without my maternity pads!


But, why am I telling you this? I should be talking about pelvic health physiotherapy (my work and passion). Or about my role as Founder of Know Your Floors and why breaking taboos and improving care for those with pelvic floor dysfunction is so important. Well, there is a real reason and that is that I now believe this change in my brain’s ability and tendency towards imposter syndrome actually makes me better at what I do. I need more help to believe in myself now than I did when I was younger. Strangely, I actually think this makes me stronger. I have the believing force of friends and family behind me, and I’m more likely to ask for help from others. I am aware of my failings and where I need to improve so don’t just stumble into mistakes. I can empathise when others struggle with similar issues and reassure them that things do improve. This all makes me a much better physiotherapist, mother and leader.


So, I hope you’ll be pleased to know that the number did eventually return to my head. After a short walk I returned to the chemist and purchased those well needed maternity pads! And here is the real purpose of my blog. This little story is just the first of many subsequent times I have felt clueless. I have now claimed all my mistakes (there have been plenty!) and my new, slower and often unreliable brain. Motherhood is a massive challenge, and it has changed me. I feel like I’m fighting imposter syndrome more and more. If I take a moment to reflect on what I have achieved despite these moments, I can see that perhaps anything is possible. If you had told pregnant me I would be running a company, treating pelvic health conditions and be a mum to two fantastic girls I don’t think I would have believed you.


I truly believe this is the case for everyone. We might get slower, more clueless or have really low and awful times, but we can rise above these and achieve more than we think is possible. Just look back over you life. What would you tell your younger self? If you ever get frustrated or annoyed that life is hard or you can’t do things like you used to, remember things change and this part of your journey may actually make you better at what you do. So, don’t listen to that little voice that says you can’t do this. Go forward and take on the world, you might actually surprise yourself. Do whatever makes you happy and of course surround yourself with people who love and support you for who you are.

 

You can find Suzanne on Instagram @knowyourfloors or access her private services at SV Physiotherapy. I can personally confirm that she is amazing at what she does and so incredibly passionate.


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