‘Did you ever think you would struggle in your mental health?’
My answer was, no. Not because I thought I was perfect, or particularly strong or because I thought anything less of anyone who did. But simply because I never really had. As a teenager I had some low points but never anything I would describe as depression.
But in the last few months, and still now-things have not been great. I have been struggling with anxiety, specifically health anxiety. I have had lovely moments in the sea of some of the most trying weeks of my life.
I have written it down, because 1) writing helps me and 2) sometimes it helps others.
However, I want to start by saying for some of you it might be best to skip past this. It might tap into fears you have that don’t need any extra fuel and believe me when I say this is not some life changing piece of writing, y’all are not missing much.
For those that are interested, I hope its useful or at very least insightful to whats going on for me at the moment. But also I am very much still going through this and so may not answer comments or questions on it, I know they are well meaning. But its hard to give answers on something you are not completely at grips with. ( I may answer them, who knows, I reserve the right to act however I feel but I wanted to give you some heads up).
Also, some of you, my dear friends, are going through greater battles. It is such a hard time for lots of people. I wish I could take away the pain and the fight, but one thing I am very aware of at the moment is a lack of control on such things. But I am holding your hand (metaphorically speaking because of you know social distancing and the fact right now it sounds creepy) and totally backing you up.
So anyway this is where I am;
She said it aloud, the words that swirl around me with their silent threat.
That make my stomach unsettled, that hover beneath my feet at night which makes me anxiously twitch and flinch.
The words which have so much power over me;
‘As soon as he was born I gained a sadness as well as a joy, the knowledge that at some point he would exist without me there’.
This is the fear that swallows me whole.
I have felt the bitter taste of health anxiety over many moments in my life but motherhood took it to new depths and add in a pandemic and well its a perfect storm.
Social media, unsurprisingly, makes it worse. Adverts for life insurance as parents describe not knowing they had some life threatening condition. My mind spirals out of control-I start to feel symptoms, I inspect and pick at every ounce of me (which is no small feat) and get lost in the certainty that I have something.
And I get almost eratic that my girls won’t have me for much longer and everything in me is in a state of confusion because we were once one; them and me. How can we ever be apart?
This nightmare doesn’t make me more present with them but steals me away.
My chest feels tight, my skin itches and every now and again some part of me aches.
I say aloud ‘will I ever feel well again?’
I know this isn’t normal, I know some of these symptoms are being created by my mind. I know that my hormones are all over the place because of stopping breastfeeding and taking the pill again. I know lack of sleep is playing its part and watching a few friends go through some serious illness this year has taken its toll.
I understand its roots but I can’t stop it.
It plagues my thoughts and underwrites my experiences.
It feels ridiculous because as far as I know I am not ill.
I have been to the doctor about a few things and they have all come back fine, and as soon as I leave my mind jumps to new symptoms and new diseases I must have. So I know its my mind obsessively seeking out to fear the next thing.
I feel panic has become my new base layer, and I try and break into it, crack it open. Expose it for the crap that it is.
I try and focus on the small things; the twig that my baby is waving around or the intricate make believe story that my toddler is telling me. I try and stay present and I try and breathe. Long deep breaths.
My breaths become prayers, mindful practices. I listen to a song and I walk.
I have spoken to a doctor and registered for mental health support. The waiting list, although unspecified how long, is long.
We are looking to follow our friends in starting to celebrate Shabbat as a family, and specifically a tech Sabbath. For those who don’t know what I am on about; a day of rest from technology.
I am still swimming.
I am trying to prioritise family.
I will take any steps I think will help to regain some balance.
A beautiful friend said to me a few days ago; ‘It won’t always be like this’. Somewhere in me, although doubtful, I know she is right.
I am absolutely not any kind of clued up on all this stuff. But this is where I am at, I imagine there are a lot of people also struggling. That doesn’t mean there isn’t laughter and joy in moments, or that I need anyone to do anything for me.
It does mean that something is not right, its off kilter and needs addressing.
This is me at the beginning of addressing it.