And so, last week was Time To Talk Day, but I think the point of this campaign is to highlight that it’s OK to talk about our mental health no matter what day it is.
Honestly, this post has been bouncing around in my brain for weeks. More honestly, my weird little journey with anxiety and my current dealings with it was one of the reasons I came back to blogging regularly.
To share this road.
I was never really into the concept of writing as therapy, but we work with the tools we have.
I’m sitting here at 9:04 in the morning, and it feels like the day is half over already. I might have cuddled my kid a little too tightly before we negotiated teeth-brushing. Isla is at school now. There’s a bird-feeder stuck to my kitchen window, there’s a bit of winter sun through the bare trees, and the snowdrops are budding.
I’m sitting here with coffee and Tim and Faith and I really want a breakfast bagel. But I’d have to go a long way for one of those.
I read a post from Lauren on Milly’s Guide last week which gave me a nudge to share my journey with mental health issues.
That’s this post.
I’ve played around with words, tried to make it readable and universal and not about me. I’ve agonised over how many sentences start with ‘I’. Wondered if I’m saying anything new, and who cares?
I have Anxiety. And I am probably Depressed. Again.
Back when Isla was a newborn (it happened, once) I was checked about every two weeks for post-natal depression. Because I have a history of situational depression, and having a baby is a pretty big situation.
And so, I filled out a questionnaire from my groovy health visitor, who took over from my groovy midwife.
I’d tick some boxes, and even showed my answers to Neil, because I wasn’t even cheating.
‘You’re not depressed, are you?’
‘Nope,’ I said.
And I wasn’t. I was euphoric. And tired. And spent. And scared shitless. I didn’t think I deserved this actually magical child who found me somehow and chose me as her mother.
I’d spent my entire pregnancy in disbelief that we’d get a baby at the end of it. But she arrived. And the first words she heard from me were ‘Thank you!’ And she’s always known I love her Dad because after I said thank you, I turned my head to him and said, ‘I fucking love you.’
So, no. I was not depressed.
All of my feelings were tied up with a frayed bow called Post-natal Anxiety.
I became a checker. Of Isla. Of me. Of my hair.
I was put on medication that made me feel worse. Then we found one that made me feel OK.
shoved out my front door encouraged to go to a baby group, where I did actually find some wonderful, no bullshit mom friends who know who they are and who I love like sisters.
I was ahem, working through it. Isla was thriving, and I was getting there.
The three of us moved here, because we’d visited Dad and Anne a few times and LOVED it. I imagined finding our own wee house with office space for me, and neighbours, maybe. Somewhere Isla would make more friends and I would make books.
Isla is thriving, I’m getting there.
My post-natal anxiety has morphed into Generalised Anxiety Disorder, whatever the hell that is. It’s managed by Prozac, old tv shows, and well, me.
And if someone asked me if I was depressed again, this time I’d say yes.
In the past, my episodes of depression have had little or nothing to do with my disability. My attitude has always been, Screw them if they can’t take some wheels, and put in a freaking elevator.
My sometimes profound sadness has come from losing a lot of people I love very quickly (all four Grandparents in five years, is one example.)
Those five years, and others, shaped the rest of my life. And so, I have issues. But the wheels aren’t my issues.
Lately, I’ve been hyper-aware that I really like hanging out in my house. In PJs mostly. With popcorn always. Going out is a chore that I do for Isla. And my vitamin D levels.
When we do go out as a family, the first choice is closed, the second choice is closed, the third on the list is the only place accessible for me on my wheels.
Now. Before somebody suggests that I campaign for equal access for disabled people, advocate for accessible travel, and do my bit to change the world, I do that. I used to get paid for it. When it’s your day-job and your everyday life, you get a bit tired.
I don’t want to be a recluse, I know it’s a slippery slope. I do want to go out, would always choose going out over staying in. But my house is accessible. And there’s nowhere to go. So we drive in the car, and have conversations like this:
Me: Shall we sing?
Me: Why not?
Isla: Because your singing is horrible, Mummy. But I love you.
Let’s focus on the love.
Isla is thriving, and I’m getting there.
P.S. Check out this post on the Candles with a Conscience campaign to benefit the PANDAS Foundation. I found this post after I wrote mine, but PANDAS work will always be relevant.
P.P.S. Update: The current campaign is Time To Change, which is also good.
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Also published on Medium.