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.

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I am not the sort of mother I thought I would be. I can hear the Mexican wave cry of ‘haha! Nobody is!,’ careering at me, in a tidal mass of I Told You So. Yes, it’s an absolute motherhood rite of passage to laugh at yourself, and denounce all of the things you were 100% never going to do as a mother, as you tutted at those eating a quiet lunch while their children watched random people opening Kinder Eggs on Youtube, and felt sorry for the children of the mum who was begging them in a deranged hiss, to ‘please just stop bloody fighting’ and offered them a lifetime’s supply of Haribo if they did so. Yes, I’ve been there and done that with the rest of you-nothing new there.

What I’m talking about, runs a lot deeper than that. I had gotten to the point where the only days I enjoyed, were the days my children were at nursery. On those days, I’d feel a prickle of dread about having to go and collect them at the end of the day. I’d scramble around on the other days in between, desperately trying to get my mum, my brother, my dad, anyone, to come over, so that I didn’t have to be alone with them. I’d feel a white hot fury, if my mum took them to the park for ‘a couple of hours,’ and came back after one hour. I wondered how I had got to the point where I woke up dreading each day, and wasn’t sure how I would get through it. Questioning how I had so fantastically failed in the one job in life I was sure I would succeed at-did my children start every day moaning, screaming, and being difficult (and manage to keep this up for an entire day relentlessly,) because I had done something so very badly wrong, that I didn’t know about? I even started to wonder if I was actually innately evil, and this had somehow been missed throughout the rest of my life, manifesting now in motherhood-because absolutely nobody should feel like that about their children, should they…?

A lot of my questions were answered when both of the children had health scares. After a series of Drs visits, the littlest was eventually referred to the children’s hospital-nobody was really sure what was wrong with him. On the days leading up to the appointment, I couldn’t sleep, of course, going through every worst case scenario in my head. I felt sick, as he skipped down the hospital corridors, no care in the world, with no clue as to why he was there. It turns out the consultant put her finger on what was wrong with him immediately, and it was nothing that a short course of medication wouldn’t fix. I cried with relief. No sooner did we have that out of the way, when we were at a friend’s birthday party, and my husband thrust the eldest in my face, telling me to ‘do something.’ He was grey, and waxy, and his lips a strange shade of cyanosed. The horrified gasps of the people around us was audible, and as the ex nurse, everyone was looking right at me. I just stood there. At that point all I could think of was that I wasn’t sure if I remembered how to do paediatric life support. I wasn’t really aware that the fact I was thinking that, meant that my child, right there in front of me, might actually need it.

Again, a simple explanation was offered to us, as to why this had happened-nothing to do with the cardiac dysfunction I had talked myself into believing we would be told he had. In the days afterwards, I checked him hourly overnight, sleeping fitfully in between, wondering if five minutes after I had checked him, he might have another episode, and how would I contemplate existing, if anything happened to him.
It was in that moment, that I realised that I wasn’t the terrible, evil person I had convinced myself I was. I’m not the mother I thought I’d be, but raising children is also nothing like I thought it would be. Sometimes (99% of the time at the moment for us,) children will be assholes. And sometimes, no amount of expert advice, raiding the internet and your local ‘what’s on for kids’ directory for new ideas, will change that. Sometimes, you will wish that your children could go to boarding school, and you could have an extended break from them, and when they’re in bed, you might announce ‘those f***ers hate me,’ to your husband (by you, I mean me, but it might be you too.) But I am the mother who barely slept, for checking my children, and although sometimes I wake up wondering how I will get through the day, I still go out of my way to make the day fun and entertaining, through the screaming.

I am the mother who gets a prickle of dread at going to collect the children from nursery, knowing that the coming bedtime debacle might give me a nervous breakdown, and might have nicknamed the days they aren’t at nursery Twatface Tuesdays, Wank Wednesdays, and Thank F**k It’s Nursery Again Tomorrow Thursdays, but will still hug and squeeze their faces when I collect them, like I’ve missed them with every inch of my being, in some sort of juxtaposed mind f**k. The fact that I care so much about why the children’s behaviour is so bad at the moment, and the pain that I sometimes don’t want to spend time with them, defines the whole situation. Because if I didn’t care, I’d just stick my feet up, wack on The Walking Dead, tell my children Negan is coming to get them, and let them fight to the death. I care about changing things, and I realised that sometimes, everything being bollocks, doesn’t mean I wouldn’t die for them-they don’t need the mother I thought I’d be-I’m sure they’re more than happy with what they’ve got.

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