A mental health condition can really take its toll on those around you. My husband takes most of the brunt of my illness. He is the one who puts up with the constant changes in my mood. My lack of patience. My tiredness. My swell of emotions. My frustration. My grumpiness and general discontent with life. He is a saint. He is my lifeline.
I try with all my might to hide my illness from my two young boys. I am not ashamed of it. It is not that I think it is something that shouldn’t be shared. But they are only 3 and 1 years old. They are too young to appreciate what depression is. What it means to live with a mental health condition. They need me to be Mum. To love them. Protect them. Take care of their every need.
I do believe in sharing my depression and my two sons are part of this belief. But not yet. In the future when they can understand. I want them to know that it is good to share feelings. It is ok to not be ok. It is good to be yourself and accepting of who you are. I want them to not suffer the stigma and judgement of mental health that I have. I want them to know how to care for others. I want them to listen and be there for the people they treasure.
So what happens on days like today? This morning I woke so heavy that my mind felt like it was in the thickest fog. My body felt like it was weighed down like I was wearing a suit of armour like the knights of the past. I couldn’t seem to think clearly. Everything was a blur. It was like I hadn’t put my glasses on (my eyesight is really bad) but they were sat in their normal place on my head.
So you ask why? Why did you wake up like this? Did you have a bad nights sleep? Is there something worrying you about today? Are you upset about something? The answer is no. I had a good night sleep. I was not worried or anxious about anything in the day ahead. I have no idea why I woke up like this. This is the illness. Depression doesn’t make any logical sense at times.
Yes I haven’t had any medication since Tuesday. Instead of weaning off the anti-depressant that was giving me an allergic reaction the doctor told me to stop it immediately as the reaction was getting worse. This is not advised. Stopping anti-depressants suddenly can make you more unwell. Added to the fact I haven’t started taking the new drug yet as the doctor wanted to try and get the allergic reaction to stop first; I am without medication. I am going solo in the world. Something I haven’t done since November 2016.
“Mummy can I have my breakfast outside?” “Mama, Mama, MAMA!” I had just jumped out of bed, well I was rather dragged by my 3 year old 5 minutes earlier and already it was full on. As any parent knows there is no let up. I was desperately trying to pour milk and cereal into bowls, clean an outside table for them, navigate the kitchen without bumping into my husband, who was trying to get his lunch out to take to work. All this whilst feeling so low I wanted to cry. Whilst wanting to scream I can’t handle this today.
And then it happened. A stupidly innocent accident which spiralled my morning out of control. My husband bumped heads with me. I fell to the floor and cried. Cried and cried like I was uncontrollable. I also swore quite a bit too. It did actually hurt but the reaction was more the illness. How blinking ridiculous. How could something so small push my already fragile brain over the edge. Well trust me it can.
I sat on the floor sobbing. My husband and children appeared shell shocked. After a few minutes my 3 year old came to sit on my lap. He is the most sensitive soul (just like me) and cuddled me. “It’s alright mummy. Are you ok? Why are you crying?” Of course I reassured him, scooped him up and squeezed him tight. “Mummy just bumped her head darling and it hurts, I’ll be ok in a minute.”
Today it wasn’t ok in a minute though. My depression had struck. I tried so hard to pull it together but I couldn’t for a while. I cried on and off for hours. I tidied furiously as if that would solve not only my depression but the wars of the world. My youngest drove me absolutely crazy. His normal, loveable cheekiness this morning made my blood boil. It was like he was intentionally winding me up. Of course he wasn’t, I just wasn’t in control of anything. I felt dizzy. I felt so low. I felt wild to be honest.
There was an alien inhabiting my brain. I didn’t feel like I was running my life. The illness had won. The battle was lost. Where had Mum gone? I hate the way depression can effect my children. The exhaustion from the overthinking can make me very snappy. The frustrations I have with myself can mean I lack patience. The emotions that I fail to control can mean that they see me cry. I hate this. I really don’t want them to suffer because they have a Mum that is ill.
I try so hard to ensure that they don’t have to witness the effects of my depression. Mornings like today are thankfully few and far between. Mostly I manage to hide the me that is suffering from them. They need me. I need them. Their love for me is what keeps me going at times when I feel like giving up. Mummy will get better boys and in the mean time she will try her hardest to make life good for you.