mental health

I’ve been telling myself for quite a long time now, that ‘it’s ok, you’re just a little bit mental at the moment, you’ll be alright soon.’ Because often, we find ourselves tired, stressed, juggling 6.2 billion plates with just two hands (often while the other halves casually spin just the one on the tip of their finger-they totally have the other hand free to catch it with, if it falls,) and it all can make us feel just slightly crazy.

Except I noticed that I was telling myself week after week that the mentalness was going to go away, and making more excuses when it didn’t. I needed ‘that event’ over with, or when I’d had ‘that day to myself,’ that’s when I was going to be fine. Except, I still wasn’t. Before I knew it, I was in a painfully familiar pit of not wanting to leave the house, making excuses not to leave the house, crying in secret, and trying to hide the fact that I wanted to be crying the rest of the time too, but didn’t want to do it in front of the children, and everyone else I know, and dwelling on the fact that I wished I’d punched Becky from school in the face in 1993, when she said the best thing that could happen to me would be for me to be run over by a bus. I know we are told that violence solves nothing, but responding like that would’ve been really fucking satisfying.

Here is an example of my stream of consciousness, when I’m particularly batshit:
*Wake up, ears are ringing, head feels foggy for no reason*
‘This is going to be a terrible day.’
‘Don’t leave the house today because BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN.’
‘The children won’t eat anything decent all day. Go on, give them the full sugar breakfast, and then they’ll get diabetes, and you’re going to feel like SHIT.’
‘Ooooh, what’s that on the news? Someone has a terrible illness? You better add that to the list of illnesses you need to be vigilant for, because the children can’t be left without a mother.’
‘Well, they could be, because you’re actually a shit one, and they’d be better off without you.’
‘In fact, if you did die, nobody would actually notice, because nobody really cares.’
‘Remember not to go out today, or if you do, just go to the park and stay in one corner, where you don’t have to talk to any other humans-you are shit at making friends, and you’ll make a dick of yourself.’
‘Oh, you’re looking forward to Mr W coming home are you? I don’t really know why he stays with you-you’re completely dragging him down. He should be with someone much prettier, thinner, funnier, and just, well, better, than you. He’ll probably be off at some point and then what will happen, you’ll have NOBODY.’
‘Stop snapping at the children, you used to be so patient. There’s another good quality you can tick off the list, that you don’t have anymore.’
‘Conserve energy for bedtime, because the children have decided that as you’re the worst mother ever, they’re going to bring you to your knees-you totes deserve it though, for being an all around crappy waste of space.’
‘By the way, while you’re being selfishly self absorbed with these thoughts, and only thinking about yourself, your mum told the eldest off for saying bugger. He’s replied with “it’s not as bad as fuck, nanny.” who swears in front of their fucking kids?’

Like I said-totally batshit. And it’s just soooooooo exhausting. I start every day feeling like I’ve run a marathon. Stuff hurts, that has no reason to be hurting. My eyes ache, my throat feels course, my stomach cramps, and my arms and legs feel like they’re made of lead. Everything sends me into fight or flight-even just handing over money at the till at the shop. The thought of coming to my laptop to write something, was making me feel sick. Plus, not going anywhere, and feeling like I was on the precipice of some kind of life destroying incident all the time, was becoming too much.

I went out last week to get my hair cut, which I was actually looking forward to, (I took this as a step forward,) until the hairdresser heard ‘can you please cut it a couple of inches below my shoulders,’ as ‘do whatever the fuck you want!!’ and gave me a long bob. I didn’t panic as much as I thought I would, about a) actually going there, and b) not being able to wear my hair in the bun it’s been sporting everyday for the last 5 years. It goes into a half bun now, so I resemble a mental hipster, minus ironic beard (unless you count the odd PCOS related chin hair flapping around.)

I’m also seeing a person. Someone actually qualified to deal with the mental. Someone taking my mental seriously, who has a plan. I feel better knowing there’s a plan, because although I’ve tried to embrace the crazy as being one of my quirks, and as a part of me, I also can’t and don’t want to, live with it to this extent anymore. So, it’s time to take a stand.

freedom
At the moment, I get two hours to myself every week-this is on a Friday when the eldest child is at nursery, and the youngest is having a nap. When he is asleep, I usually do a tiny freedom dance, before trying to prioritise what needs to be done first, usually before falling asleep and doing nothing. Come September, the littlest will be joining the eldest, in what I jokingly named Freedom Fridays, a name which has now stuck. Even more excitingly, we have had confirmation that they will both now be able to attend all day on a Monday too, in what I immediately named March Forth And Be Free Mondays (admittedly not as catchy as Freedom Fridays, but now it’s kind of stuck too.)

I’ve been delirious with excitement over this upcoming freedom, because apart from the odd night out here and there, or an hour or two during the daytime when my mum has babysat so that I could (mostly) run errands, I haven’t had a whole day, just to do what I want, in 3&1/2 years. Instead of a mini freedom dance on these nursery days, I have imagined that I will be fully Mel Gibsoning the shit out of the day, dropping the children off, and running around screaming ‘FREEDOM’ in random stranger’s faces, and generally Bravehearting my way through the day, terrible Scottish accent and all. I’ve been having all kinds of wild musings and daydreams over how I’m going to spend this new found freedom, mostly including the following:

1. Training my body to poo only on a Monday and Friday. It has been an ongoing dream of mine to poo without someone screaming to be held/fed (in the beginning,) to more recently, having a running commentary: ‘Can I see it mummy? Is it massive mummy? If we take it out of the toilet mummy, will it reach the sky? Squeeze it out mummy, squeeze it out.’ Yes, the amusement factor of these conversations has declined at an alarming rate recently.

2. Putting some trashy magazines in the toilet to read while I’m doing my uninterrupted poos.

3. Having a bath that lasts long enough for my skin to go wrinkly.

4. Having a bath that I’ve had time to clean properly beforehand, so that I’m not constantly worried that the little brown thing by my elbow isn’t part of a rogue fleet of excrement deposits, trying to find its way back to the mothership that one of the children left as a poopy present.

5. Drinking all day.

6. Reading an actual book.

7. Long, laid back lunches with the people I’ve attempted lunch with for the last few years, only to have all of us be distracted by our children, and only managing to throw a few flustered words at each other before giving up and going home. Cue, we have repeated this at least once a week for the last 3&1/2 years.

lone poo

(On my phone, enjoying a lone poo)

However, as September creeps towards me at alarming speed, my delirium has started to be overtaken by classic symptoms that have pretty much defined my entire motherhood experience: Panic, and Guilt. Sending the children away for two whole days now seems really selfish, and I’m wondering if I’m doing it for all the wrong reasons. I’ve been really struggling with being a SAHM recently. I’ve felt impatient and angry, and my mood seems to have taken a huge decline. I’m frustrated that I can never get anything done, and the lack of personal space has been making me claustrophobic and panicky-but these are all things that now seem all kinds of wrong, when said out loud.

My children are still at an age where they need me-they need me constantly. Soon, they won’t need me, so shouldn’t I really just be sucking it up, and putting the need for some time and space to myself on hold? I only have two years, then they will both be at school. Surely I have no right to be angry at them for just being children, and I should be grateful that they follow me everywhere, refuse to play on their own, and scream at the top of their voices if I should even leave the room for a split second. It’s what I always wanted-I needed to be needed, I’m sure, deep down in my slightly damaged psyche, I’d probably admit under hypnosis that it’s probably the reason I had them. To now push them away seems flippant.

As a mother, isn’t this what I’ve signed up for? If you give up your job to look after your children, don’t you, well, stay at home and look after them? I know that I set my expectations of being a mum too high, and have been sporting my Dunce hat over what I thought it’d be, to the shocking reality. In my head, it was going to be all Fairy Gardens and adventures, long snoozes in bed together, all at the same time, and constant sloppy kisses. It’s taken me the best part of the last 3&1/2 years to come to terms with the fact that this would never be a reality, and drop my expectations through the floor. I walk around feeling like a constant failure as it is, but guilt and shame are now making me feel even more of a failure because not only have I let go of most of my motherhood dreams, I’m now going to fail at staying at home to look after my children, because someone else will be doing it for two days.

crafts

(Not the crafts and home baked bread I was hoping for…)

I have all these feelings that I’m battling with-Reason tries to fight Panic and Guilt by telling me that if I have a break and some headspace, I’ll be a much better mum on the days I do have the children. Reason says that they may love nursery, skipping in there with a ‘thank f**k for that, finally someone different to that knob,’ at the same time I’m maniacally screaming FREEDOM to random strangers. There’s also the reality of what I’ll actually be doing when they’re at nursery, which is actually nothing from the above list, and will most likely include:

1. Sorting out my tip of a house, which for the last few years, has had any mess laying around, thrown into the nearest cupboard when we have visitors. There is no more space, and the cupboards are groaning under the strain…

2. Making most of the house fit for human habitation… Like I said-there’s been no time to do ANYTHING…!

3. Not having lazy lunches with friends, because none of us will be child free on the same day.

4. Just doing a quick poo because so much else needs doing.

5. Not drinking all day, because picking the children up half cut will make me look like a terrible parent.

6. Initially, the reasoning behind the two days in nursery was so that I could retrain, ready for re-employment when the children are both at school, only problem with that is that I still do not have a CLUE what I want to do with my life…

hired

(Errr, or not, as the case may be…!)

Reason also tells me that I’m possibly over thinking the whole thing, and to just go with the flow… Wish me luck for September!

reflections from me