This week is going to be hard; DH is on a course at the jobcentre from nine to five all week. This is a good thing as it will give him a new qualification to put on his CV, but it means that I will be alone with the children for the entire week, bar breakfast and bedtimes.
I can hear my internal critics scoffing. That’s nothing! That’s what a stay-at-home parent does! You used to do it with DD all the time, many parents have far longer periods of sole responsibility and far more children. What’s the big deal? You’re so pathetic… The fact is, I can’t remember the last time I was alone with both children for more than a couple of hours. I’m used to DH being around, he’s my buffer when things get too much. His presence means I get some alone time each day, even if it’s just a trip to the supermarket. That alone time, even just knowing that it’s an option when I’m struggling, helps me to cope. This week I won’t have that.
Time drags slowly for me these days and minutes can feel like hours. An entire day of having to be focused and alert, calm and reasonable may well seem like years. I can already feel the tension in my body, I can feel the anxiety building. Looking ahead to this week is incredibly daunting; it’s like a sheer cliff blocking my path. I’m drowning in what-ifs. What if I lose my temper? What if I can’t cope with them both? What if I have a panic attack? What if I lose control and break down in front of them? What if I’m only an ok mother when DH is around to pick up the slack?
My other big concern is that without DH around this week I will resort to binging as a coping method. Those who read my blog regularly will know that I have been told I have binge eating disorder. A week without DH around makes it ridiculously easy to binge and extremely hard to resist that whispering voice urging me on. Right now I feel fairly strong – I haven’t binged today, I’ve stocked up on mints as a distraction aid and hopefully I won’t forget them when the urge appears. But tomorrow could be very different.
I’ve been honest with a few people about the panic I’m feeling; DH, my parents, sister, a close friend. It sounds so ridiculous when I say it out loud – I’m afraid of being alone with my children all day. But right now I would rather step into a cage full of ravenous tigers than spend so much time alone with my loving, sweet, clever and funny children. What kind of mother thinks like that?
I think I shall be clutching my smartphone even more than usual tomorrow. Twitter is a source of kindness, friendship, distraction and companionship and I think I’m going to need all the help I can get this week.
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.
DH and I don’t really do Valentine’s Day. We’re both quite
soppy romantic but share a strong dislike of being told when that romanticism should manifest, so we tend to ignore all the hype and hooha. Which is just as well really, as February 14th is when I will be seen by a psychiatrist for the first time in my life.
I have mixed feelings about this. Part of me feels quite positive – I know that this is a step forward, and that this is the first step towards a diagnosis and/or treatment. But part of me feels nervous, apprehensive, exposed. I will have to be completely honest with a total stranger about my worst moments and thoughts. What if he thinks it’s something really scary? What if he thinks it’s nothing and sends me away? I honestly don’t know which would be worse.
So there we have it – in just over a fortnight I will know one way or the other, I will know which path my life is going to take.