This week’s Mental Health Monday post comes from a blogger who I’ve followed for quite a while, the lovely Looking For Blue Sky. She writes about her experiences as a lone parent of three, of which two have special needs, in a very honest and loving way. In this piece, the strong Mama who spends her days making sure everyone else is A-Okay speaks of what happened with her own mental health. Not enough is said about the role of carers, in particular those who are caring for more than one person – it’s such a rewarding yet very stressful role and it’s important for the broader society to appreciate and look after our carers too. This post really does speak to the reality of what happens when the proverbial hits the fan with mental health. Here is what Looking For Blue Sky has to say…
I Felt So Low
I’ve read about depression, read about the black dog, read about people unable to get out of bed in the mornings, unable to function. Â That wasn’t me. Â I functioned, I always have. Â I’m a coper. Â And this year life has settled down and become a little more stable. Â I’ve not been lurching from one crisis to the next, trying to firefight, to keep the show on the road.
What happened? Â Well when the firefighting stopped, I began to feel overwhelmed by all the stuff that has happened over the past ten years, and how much my life has changed, how different it is from the family life that I had planned and worked so hard for. Â Every day became a stress-fest, and I couldn’t relax or sleep without a glass of wine, I needed constant pain killers for headaches. Â I suspect Â I would’ve taken anything to feel better, if it had been offered. Â Yet I felt so guilty, I have three wonderful children (even if two of them do have special needs), a beautiful home, a job I enjoy, enough money, and great friends.
I went back to counselling, which is useful, and it means I can talk about stuff that I’m afraid to tell anyone else, but really it is only going to make a big difference long-term. Â There’s a lot to get through!
As I mentioned before, this summer is the most challenging yet – Smiley’s summer camp has finished and I will have no respite, and she will have no school, until the end of August, while aspie boy says he wants to go out, says he wants to exercise, but is finding it so hard to tear himself away from the safety of the screens. Â So I was looking out the kitchen window at the patch of blue sky above the rooftops as the waves of heat washed over me and bursting into tears every time I heard trigger words like gorgeous weather,Â Wexford, bank holiday fun, and of course anything that might remind me ofÂ my Dad.
So I was miserable, and I just wanted to hibernate, but I couldn’t. Â I have work to do, a house to keep and two children who have a lot of needs. Â It’s relentless. Â But last Sunday – it’s always Sundays! – I realised that I was definitely not being the best mother that I could be to my kids. Â Friends rallied round and drove me to the GP on Monday morning. Â I’ve always been afraid of telling officialdom that I am not coping, terrified of being judged, afraid of tales of children being taken away — which could be worse for them than for me. Â But of course the GP was lovely – I’ve been put on some medication, and within an hour my pounding headache was gone, and suddenly everything seemed to be doable – even without the help of wine and chocolate! Â Perhaps I have now become aÂ Stepford WifeÂ after all….
I feel so stupid now — clearly I should have gone to the GP months or years ago — please don’t make the same mistake as me, just because you are getting through the days does not mean that a little help won’t make them better, for you and for your family.
(This post originally appeared on Looking For Blue Sky in July 2013)
Check out the rest of the Mental Health Monday seriesÂ here. If you’d like to be included in Mental Health Mondays and share your story, please drop me an email.I’d love to involve as many people as possible – I want to hear from parents who deal with mental health issues to share those stories.
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