Motherhood, mental illness and beyond

When I was 19 my fiancé died very suddenly. We hadn’t been together long but had discussed marriage and children and all the things that you begin to talk about when a relationship turns serious. We had lots of plans for our future together – and then suddenly that future wasn’t there any more. He was gone and his loss nearly destroyed me.

Of course, I eventually met DH and we married and have children. And while part of me still grieves for my fiancé I realise that I am fortunate to have the life I do, and in a way that stems from his death. However losing him has had a profound effect on my mental health and this manifests as constant anxiety. I worry about something happening to those I love. This is most pronounced with DH and the children of course. Having lost a partner once I know that I could not cope if anything happened to DH; the unimaginable pain of losing a child terrifies me even more.

When DH and I first got together we were students. One night he’d been out and hadn’t let me know he’d got home safely – I was convinced that he was lying dead somewhere. After several panic attacks about this I eventually phoned his (extremely lovely and understanding) housemate who went and checked on him for me and confirmed that he was fine. This was just the first incident of many over the years though, and just the tip of the anxiety iceberg.

When DD and I cross the road I get visions of a car running into her; I see her being thrown into the air by the impact. When she’s playing in the park I see her falling off equipment. When we’re at the beach I see her running into the sea and drowning. When I go in to check on her at night I am always terrified that she’s died in her sleep. I wake at least once an hour to check on DS, who is only 13 months and squarely within the SIDS window; I check on DH too, just in case.

The other night I read about a little boy close to DS’ age who had died in his sleep. His mother had posted a photo on her blog of her cradling his lifeless body in her arms – I sobbed for almost an hour. I barely slept that night for fear of what might happen to the children and I still cannot get the image of that poor woman and her son out of my head.

I’m pretty sure that this level of worry isn’t normal. But at some point it must have been – I mean, it’s natural to worry about those you love isn’t it? But at what point does it stop being a natural concern and start being something that affects your life? I never prevent my children from doing things, I refuse to let my anxiety affect them. But I spend a lot of my time fretting, worrying, panicking and always anticipating the absolute worst. That can’t be normal. And I guess it’s something else that needs to be mentioned to the psychiatrist when I have my assessment on Thursday.


Comments on: "When does worry become a mental health issue?" (6)

  1. That magical word ‘normal’ – we crave it so much…… Anxiety is completely normal but the levels can be unhealthy in some people (like me!). I think if you are asking the question then you probably think that you do worry too much, and if it affects you physical and health well being then it would be best to try to learn to cope better. I can remember the proper name but there is a technique about worry loops and our perception of the problem, and it has help me to cope.

  2. Worry loops sounds about right! I do try to step outside the anxiety and ask myself just how likely it is that X will happen, and although I’m still anxious I’m able to ignore it.

  3. I think you deal with it grandly, sit back and think, not over react. It must be hard.

    So what is normal? Nothing is normal. what the question is perhaps, is what is comfortable. If you are having panic attacks, then things are not comfortable.

    oh, an appointment again too. that is great.

    As you blog more I see more things, Write down your history, all of these things, add to it when you remember more, for your appointment, as you will be nervous and likely to forget many things, If you have it all written out, you can give it to the doctor to read. 🙂

  4. That’s something I’ve been considering, I’m so dreadful at talking about things face-to-face but writing it down makes it easier.

    • That is common. You want to say a lot, you think of it all before hand, you are nervous, questions are asked that you answer, before you know it the visit is over and you have forgotten to talk about some things.

      Keep a document open that you can add to as you think of things, then print it out before your visit. Some things are hard to talk about as well, but if written down the thoughts can be more clear. Things that are hard to say. The more information they have the better they can help. 🙂

  5. I am so sorry to hear that you lost your fiance when you were younger [sad].

    One of the reasons I love my job is because it is largely made up of writing down my thoughts and opinions which come out ordered, well structured, considered, and thorough. If I try to speak those thoughts, I can’t do it eloquently and am pretty sure I look and sound less able at my job than I am on paper. I would quite happily substitute most conversations with professionals that involve talking about the things in my mind with paperwork, they would understand me so much better.

    Good luck with your appt.

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