Motherhood, mental illness and beyond

Consequences

Recently I wrote about being reported to the NSPCC and consequently Children’s Services in these two posts: The Letter and The Letter – part 2. If you don’t have time to read them, the short version is that the NSPCC received 2 anonymous reports from someone who was concerned that my and DH’s mental illnesses meant that our children were at risk. Children’s Services investigated and quickly concluded that the reports were groundless. That, I hope, is the end of the matter.

Except that it isn’t, not really. Although I choose to believe that the reports were made due to genuine (albeit misguided) concern rather than malice, knowing that someone has read my blog and my tweets and concluded that I am an unfit mother, DH an unfit father, has been profoundly distressing. For me it has caused heightened anxiety and stress-induced insomnia, DH is struggling with an abrupt plunge into low mood. I hope that in time these will pass, and of course the children are still entirely unaware of the whole situation and its effects, and will hopefully remain that way.

I have always prided myself on being open and honest about my mental health, both here and on Twitter. Stigma is increased by ignorance, and by speaking out I hoped that in a small way I could help reduce that stigma and the alienation that many people with mental illnesses suffer. But to have that honesty turned against me and wielded as a weapon has been a horrifying experience. I’ve never hidden the fact that I find blogging to be an extremely therapeutic way of dealing with my illnesses, both mental and physical. I have also found a wonderful support network on Twitter, where I can be honest and speak of my experiences to those who understand and empathise as well as to those who really have no understanding of what mental illness can be like. In return I’ve been able to offer sympathy, advice and comfort to others who struggle with their mental health. But I’m not sure that I can continue to do so.

Despite our swift and complete exoneration by Children’s Services, this experience has left its mark. I no longer feel safe blogging and tweeting honestly about how I am, how my day is going, how DH is. Even as I write this post I’m wondering whether it will be turned into a stick to beat me with, whether it will prompt yet another report to the NSPCC. I have lost my sense of safety, of refuge, and of course that means that I have lost my online support network. This is no trivial thing; in the past the support I’ve received from individuals online have literally made the difference between life and death. But now that’s gone. I feel watched, I feel harassed and I feel as though my honesty has endangered the happiness and wellbeing of my family.

I don’t know whether these feelings will fade as time passes but I certainly hope so. I will miss the catharsis that blogging can provide and I will miss being able to interact with the mental health community in a meaningful way. It’s been very important to me that I speak out about mental health issues and I hope that I will be able to again, but for now my voice has been silenced.

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Comments on: "Consequences" (19)

  1. I’m so sorry that this incident had had such a profound affect on your feelings about blogging & twitter. The reports were unfair irrespective of whether or not they were malicious. Your support network remains whenever you feel able to be open & honest again. It would be a great shame to lose you into the ether of stigma as you’ve been of great support to many as well as taking support yourself. Your open and honest accounts of your struggles give hope to others. Xxx

  2. I’m sad to read this but it makes sense you would feel this way. I really hope you can get back to communicating and blogging as you’ve always done. There are so many people out there who value your words on the blog and on Twitter and who will be sorry to read the way you’re feeling now. X

  3. I feel so angry for you that this has happened. It’s such a shame :-(

  4. Edward Ian Kendrick said:

    It’s a travesty that someone has knocked you all out of kilter this way. The ignorance and idiocy of some makes my blood genuinely boil. As I’ve said before. Know I think you guys are awesome and that I consider you to be an excellent mother.

    I feel sure you’ll get through this, but for now, if you need anything, just let us know. You know where I am.

    Much love to you all.

  5. Oh Sam. I can completely understand how you feel that your blog has been used as a weapon because it so clearly has. But. But, it’s such a strong voice for those who may not be able to speak out. It’s such a wake up call for those who have outdated and erroneous beliefs about mental illness. It’s such a wonderfully honest account of a family who love each other and give each other so much, despite illness. Yours was one of the first blogs I started to read, and have continued to follow, for all these reasons. When you have taken some time, I hope with all my heart that you will feel able to continue x

  6. Megan-Beth Millar said:

    Don’t stop the good it does you out ways the vicious person who did this who obviously has no understanding of what they are reading or the very nature of mental illness, you are a credit to your children and vice versa. Maybe blog / tweet under a ghost name so no one knows the name behind the blog you will be safe in the knowledge you cannot be identified AND the therepy it gives you will continue. Big hugs to you and him and the little people xxx I hope the person involved realises how significant your blogs are to you and the wider population who they give courage to. Keep you head held high my darling and I’ll see you very soon xxx

  7. Such a shame this happened but please try and take a little comfort in the fact that whoever reported you, well,it shows whre they are in life,which doesn’t sound like a great place really.I hope you don’t feel silent for too long,nobody deserves to have that power over you.Hold on yo your power!!!:)

  8. Sam, I’m sorry, some people suck. I hope you can find the confidence in life to allow you to come back one day and share your journey with us. It’s a rare and very important glimpse into the truth of mental illness and the overwhelming majority of people here are 100% on your side.

  9. deborabora said:

    This does make me sad to read. Where you are actually doing something really good and most likely helping others sharing your own experiences and helping people to know it’s OK to feel like they do or behave like they do when also suffering from a mental illness it has been turned against you and now you feel the need to take that support away from people. If you find writing therapeutic I’d suggest continuing in private. It shouldn’t matter if no one sees it. Then if you start to gain confidence, invite people to your blog but lock it down from public access. I wish you all the best x

  10. budgetblogger1 said:

    Blogging leaves you pretty vulnerable in a sense – you are opening yourself up to those who don’t necessarily agree with the way you do things and also you put yourself out there for abuse and criticism, like anyone in the public eye. However, by writing about a topic as important and misunderstood as mental health you help more people to understand and to show that it’s ok and not to suffer in silence. All to often these issues are swept under the carpet – it takes people to stand up and be heard for an issue to be addressed and for people to see mental health for what it is – it shouldn’t be a taboo subject. Mental health – talk about it! X

  11. To the person who raised their concerns:

    As Sam’s mother, and an educational professional with a medical background, I would like to make a few comments. Firstly, thank you for being a responsible person who chose not to ignore heir concerns. I wish there were more like you: there are many children out there who really do need someone to look out for them.

    Sam and DH have had financial, and then consequently, and not unexpectedly, mental health issues. Throughout this time they have been, in my professional opinion, exceptional parents. Both children are happy, healthy and very bright. They are well cared for and looked after by two very loving parents who have always remained positive around them, no matter how they might be feeling inside.

    Both sides of the family have made sure that Sam and DH are well supported (sometimes a fine line to tread) and they know that they can rely on us to be there, sometimes before they are even aware they need help. They are not going through this alone.

    However, it is so sad that Sam now feels too intimidated to carry on helping others with similar problems. She has been an unstinting and unfailing source of encouragement to other mums/parents/families through Twitter/Mumsnet and her blog (the latter two having won her awards for her ability to help others freely without judgement). Of course, you may only have seen the things she has written (which in turn have helped others – just read some of the comments she gets); you have not seen her children running around giggling, tucking into fruit and vegetables (great favourites, much more so than sweets) and exploring encyclopaedias and asking questions that challenge us all.

    There are always two sides to every coin. Things are not always what they might appear. As a professional who has worked in many situations involving child care issues, every care has to be taken to make sure all facts and details are correct. So much damage can be caused unless great care is taken to be as accurate as possible.

    It will take time to get my beautiful daughter back to the level of confidence she had begun to show recently and to know that she again feels worthwhile. I hope, that with support and encouragement, Sam will eventually feel comfortable, and secure enough to return to doing what she excels at: caring for, and helping others.

  12. I’m so sorry to read that, Sam. I was pleased to hear you’d been swiftly exonerated from those allegations. It’s such a shame that you feel that you can no longer be open on the platforms that have helped you so much, as well as so many others, because of one person’s actions. I do completely understand your motives. Perhaps when the dust has settled you may feel differently. Don’t let the b*stards get you down. xxx

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