When I decided to write my story down, (you know, the one where I created a tiny version of myself and lost my mind!) I really didn’t expect the impact that it would have. I was literally inundated with stories from friends, acquaintances and strangers (who have become friends!) talking to me about their own experiences. And, do you know what, most of them didn’t know they were ill either!
Talking about Mental health and the stigma associated with it is changing; thank goodness! Isn’t it brilliant that people are feeling more able to talk about their feelings, how they want to feel and defying all those who say there is a “normal”? No such thing I say! We’re all unique and we should feel able to share that individuality; the good and the wobbly bits (that’s not meant to be rude!) so in the spirit of the upcoming awareness weeks in May, that are super close to my heart, I’m sharing my story in full.
I decided that the brevity in my blog posts may have been helpful for some, but actually, if you needed to know more and felt uncomfortable to ask me outright, what would you do? You’d just stay there not knowing what you wanted to know and feeling all confused! That is certainly not what I want at all! So I figured I’d tell you about where my story started and ended (although end isn’t quite right as I don’t feel it’ll ever truly be over) Today I’m sharing an excerpt with you. I hope this little bit helps….and the rest later perhaps?
When it was just me and MB, and we were out and about, I seemed to be doing just fine. Or so everyone thought. I think the fear of being honest was a massive factor for me, as it will be with a lot of women. If you’re honest about how you feel, about how hard you’re finding it, about how horrible it is sometimes – then you feel weak. You feel like a failure. You look at women around you cooing and loving and looking marvellous with all their makeup and hair and cute baby and all the stuff you don’t seem to have. You don’t think; “maybe they’re broken inside too?” because, at the time, you don’t know you’re broken. You just know you feel like shit.
And, for me; if someone said “here I’ll have MB for a few hours”, I would throw my child at them and run away with gratitude. Awful behaviour! But then I’d miss her and I’d worry that the person didn’t know her well enough to cope. I couldn’t be with her and I couldn’t be without her. Unless she was sleeping.
The week P was gone I functioned fairly well. I took some extra time owed to me from work and had a bit of time at home. I pottered around and did little chores and took some me time. It all felt a little bit empty though. Because bedtime for MB was my responsibility without P around, and bedtime was very traumatic for me. So was bath time. But I sucked it up and I did it. The upset stemmed from our daughter’s inability to sleep. Having to stand in her bedroom in the dark and rock her, hug her, read, re-read, put her back to bed over and over and over again. It was so draining! I know P had felt that way too when we took it in turns to deal with it. But he was somehow better at it than me. His patience was beyond mine. He didn’t cry like I did when he’d been there nearly two hours and she was still screaming.
I couldn’t leave her to cry because I’d read in a book, whilst pregnant, that leaving babies to cry for periods without comforting them can cause them stress in their brain, which can lead to them being unable to deal with stress in later life and also cause lots of other mental and physical health issues. It scared the crap out of me. All reason went out of my brain and if she cried, I had the overwhelming urge to need to stop it immediately or as soon as possible. And when you’ve got a child who doesn’t sleep, has chronic colic, stomach pain, and reflux – she cried a lot! P therefore had no choice but to deal with my crazy but making sure that he literally jumped out of the chair when MB cried. This, of course, is me looking back on it now through sensible (sort of!) eyes. Not the neurotic, crazy haze that I was in at the time.
Bathing her was tough for me anyway because of some residual back pain and, the first week, I bathed her and nearly dropped her! Her little head went under the water and the trauma of it meant that baths were completely out of the window for me. I panicked at the thought of bathing her alone so P took that on as his little job everyday. Again, this seemed like nothing at the time, him taking on this role I mean, but then it was just one thing he did out of so many things that I felt he didn’t do.
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Have you got a story to tell? Tell me your baby story – WTF’s allowed!
Hugs for now!