Motherhood, mental illness and beyond

Hollow and hopeless

I admit it – I’m struggling. I’ve not written about my mental health for a while because I’ve seemed stable on the medication I take and it felt like I was coping ok. But I’m starting to realise that I’ve been fooling myself and using too many crutches to get through each day.

This last week has been an eye-opener. 2yo DS had surgery on Monday; it was only a minor operation but involved general anaesthetic and that pushed all my anxiety buttons. Then he developed a stomach bug the same night and the next 3 days were filled with more vomit than a high street on Saturday night. After a few days DH and DD got it too. Everyone’s pretty much recovered now but I’m still struggling. I feel like I’m constantly full of adrenaline, buzzing and unable to sit still, but at the same time lethargic and morose.

I hadn’t realised until recently just how much I rely on DH to take the strain when I’m having a hard time. We’ve always done equal shares when it comes to parenting and running a home (especially while he’s unemployed), but there are times when I just cannot cope and he takes over for a bit so that I can be alone or whatever it is that I need at the time. However, just before Christmas he was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder and is now on new regimens of drugs and therapy while the doctors explore what works. I think this has prompted him to be far more open with me about his mental health than before and it seems that he’s been hiding a lot from me. Now that I know how he feels, how he’s been fighting his own battles, I no longer feel that I can rely on him as much as before. Not because he’s suddenly unreliable but because it seems unfair to give him sole responsibility for the children when he’s having as hard a time of it as I am. I feel guilty and selfish that I didn’t realise before.

I’ve been trying my hardest to put on a bright and smiley face for everyone, particularly the children, but the mask is cracking. I am cracking. I have a very short temper atm and the slightest thing makes me rage (internally, thankfully). The children’s chatter is like fingernails on a blackboard. Their bickering makes me want to break things. Their simplest request, for a toy or a hug or help turning on the light, is infuriating because I just want to be left alone.

I try to hide how I’m feeling and be their kind, playful, loving mother but I think I’m failing. I think they’re starting to realise that I’m hollow – fake happiness on the outside, a yawning chasm of despair inside. They don’t deserve this. They don’t deserve a mother who has to bully herself into playing with them, who counts down the hours and minutes until bedtime. They deserve better, the best.

I’m not entirely sure if there’s anything in particular that’s prompted my plummeting back into darkness but it has been a stressful time lately. If I’m completely honest there’s a part of me, a very small part, that is angry with DH for being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. How ridiculous is that? It’s hardly his fault. But in the past I’ve always been comforted by the thought that when things became too much to cope with and I eventually killed myself (I’ve come dangerously close to this several times) the children would have a strong, stable parent to take care of them. But I can’t do that to DH when he’s having his own problems. I feel as though my safety net has vanished. I’m not saying that I’m suicidal at the moment, I’m not. But it was always reassuring to know that if things ever became that bad again, I had an escape route. Now I don’t and there’s no hope of oblivion for me any more. I’m stuck in this defective body, in this tormented mind, until age, infirmity or an accident carries me off.

I really don’t know what I want this post to say, I’ve rambled a long way from my first paragraph. I’ve been far too honest and I’m not sure whether I should even publish it. But this is who I am and how I am. Bright on the outside, black as pitch on the inside and utterly without hope of escape.

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Comments on: "Hollow and hopeless" (9)

  1. Oh Sam you are hard on yourself. After the week you’ve had it’s normal to still be anxious and to have that hyper response to your surroundings. Needing a break isn’t failure it’s a sign you’ve been struggling on for too long. I also think a period of grief is normal after a diagnosis like your DH has had. Anger is part of the grieving process, and it’s coupled with guilt because one feels one shouldn’t be feeling like that and it makes it worse. Give yourself permission to grieve, to rail against the unfairness of it. For the time being this is what you need. It doesn’t mean you’ll always feel like this about the diagnosis.

    This too shall pass. And your kids are resilient and growing up in a loving household. You’ll find ways to make it work so they have the attention they need and you have the space you need. Self knowledge and being open about how you’re struggling shows how responsible and wise you are. Even if you don’t feel it. Xx

  2. It’s ok to struggle.
    It’s ok to be angry.
    It’s ok to want to be left alone.
    It’s ok to share your feelings.
    What you are teaching your children, by playing with them even though you don’t feel like it, by finding the strength to keep going when it’s tough, is important and useful. These moments, when things seem at their worst, are the moments when you are doing important parenting. You are showing your children the importance of love and family and taking care of each other.

  3. (((hugs))) all the feelings you’re describing sound logical and understandable, but you really seem to be struggling with them – would going back to your doctor and discussing your medication amounts and levels and types help? Medication can’t sweep all your problems away, no, but it can help level you out a bit so things don’t seem quite so insurmountable and overwhelming, and it sounds like yours might need tweaking?

  4. […] “Hollow and Hopeless” (Delusions of Candour) […]

  5. I am struggling at the moment too so not full of wise words but just wanted to say I understand, and it’s scary but it’s not your fault, and there will be a way through it. Hugs xxx

  6. muminahurry said:

    Just commenting to say that I’ve read this post and again, I get how you are feeling. I get stupidly offended every time my husband is ill – even with something as small as a twisted ankle – because it means he’s not able to be my rock anymore and do everything and take care of everything! Not his fault but I can’t seem to help myself!

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