Mother (Almost Never) Knows Best: Dark Times: Maternal Mental Health

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Dark Times: Maternal Mental Health

Now, I am not sure whether it was having recently read that whilst at the first Royal Foundation Forum, during a panel for the Mental Health charity Heads Together, Meghan Markle was quoted as saying that "we don't need help in finding our voices- we just need to feel strong enough to use them" or whether it has been the dark, looming clouds overhead, heavy with snow which have been weighing on my mind but I have been feeling just more than a little hopeless of late. As in, devoid of hope, not ditzy; I can always be considered hopeless in its latter context.

This is not the first time I have felt like this and I am well aware that is unlikely to be the last. Where Churchill had his black dog, I seem to have a black, heavy blanket loitering never too far away, desperate to cloak me in darkness whenever I show the slightest weakness in spirit. I, like many others, have learned to live with it, accepting that this is my burden to bear. It is like having arthritis of the brain. No matter how often you take your painkillers, how frequently you do your exercises and how mobile you keep your joints there will still be days when you ache. Days when the pain is almost too much to bear and you cannot see a way out. Days when you forget what it is like to be "normal".

When it comes to my mental health, I can be doing everything right; exercising, eating the right things, not drinking too much of the wrong things, socialising, being gainfully employed and yet still it finds me, still it darkens my door and seeps into my, otherwise beautiful, life.

This week, it has done just that. Having initially welcomed the unseasonal weather with child like excitement at the thought of snowmen construction, sledging and snowball fights, my enthusiasm soon waned as the hours spent indoors dragged on and the sunshine failed to penetrate the threatening skies. With childcare routines disrupted, it was left to me to pick up the slack as my husband's medical practice kept it doors open for anyone who might need their help in the harsh conditions. I am always happy to do this and to be honest normally I would be more than a little miffed if the primary carer role was taken away from me but this particular situation felt different. My children were well and more than a little frustrated at being held captive and therefore not being able to burn off their excess energy,  so I was left feeling guilty for abandoning my team at work and daunted by the sheer numbers of hours I was going to have to fill within the confines of my four walls with two children under five.

I could feel the darkness creeping into my waking hours and wrapping itself around me until I was enveloped. Upon waking, and realising that I would have to care for my two children independently, I would sense the underlying terror crescendoing inside of me. Their happy voices serenading me from their bedrooms as they burst into the new day fuelled with relentless vigour and enthusiasm, would do little to relieve my desolation. I worried about failing them; about them noticing that I was utterly dispirited, leaving them scared and unsettled. I wanted to run away. I wanted to pause my life and everyone in it; take myself away and await the time when the darkness would lift.

What I actually did was employ the digital babysitter and hope against hope that it would distract them whilst I waited for the clouds to pass.

I won't say that I am quite back on form yet and the inclement weather seems to be lingering somewhat more than normal but today Husband is home; today I have bought a month's pass to the gym in the hope that I stumble upon some endorphins along the way and today I am beginning to see a glimmer at the end of the tunnel.

This too, shall pass.
Rhyming with Wine

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