Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Owning up to being mad!

So, this is the main point of this blog, mainly because it isn't a big part of me any more, but I thought I would share with you some of the challenges of being a Mum with a history of serious mental ill-health.

I used to be very unwell, I used to be psychotic, I used to be depressed to the point of so many suicide attempts that I lost count long before I stopped and I also used to have periods of mania.  I spent much of my early 20s in a psychiatric ward, sometimes the doors were locked and I wasn't always there at my own choice.  For a very long time the only thing that kept me well(ish) was having drugs jabbed into my bum once a fortnight.  Perhaps controversially, though, I don't mind you knowing this, it is part of who I was (and to an extent am) and I think that the fear of people who are not completely mentally well comes from people being scared to talk openly about their experiences.

I longed for Naomi (well a child) all that time, I was desperate, my husband and I even tried for a baby for a while.  I am so pleased, though, that God didn't let it happen at that time, for I could barely look after myself, let alone another little baby.  I am pleased that God's grace allowed Him to deny me my greatest desire.

I did get better though, I received treatment in a Therapeutic Community and my life turned around.  I love life now, I no longer tolerate it!  I love my friends and family and I love growing in being a Mum and a child of God!

I still find some things challenging though, I have always struggled to keep my mental health good unless I get enough sleep, and (particularly recently) Naomi has been keeping me up a lot and so I have to make sure I catch up when I can and that I do other things to keep me healthy.  I need to make sure I get enough exercise (a challenge in itself with a small baby) and I need to make sure I eat sensible food and don't ALWAYS just reach for the chocolate bar when the day has proved difficult!

My OCDish ways also need to be negotiated, I wear odd socks, I do this because wearing matching socks would stress me out unless they matched EXACTLY, even having had one go through the washing machine an extra time and so be a slightly different shade, really makes me anxious and so I have made it part of my personality to wear odd socks.  All this to say, I can't let that affect the way I deal with Naomi and not just in her dress style, but also that when she gets older and wants to colour the man in the picture in blue, I will just need to let her, it will however cause me no end of anxiety!  As will her putting her books back on the shelf but not in alphabetical order!

The thing I am working through at the moment, is that as the mother of a 5 month old baby who doesn't sleep through the night and struggles to go back to sleep without having my boob put in her mouth, it is completely normal to have down days! The adrenaline of the first few weeks has gone, this is me settled into my new life and things are challenging.  Sometimes she cries, sometimes she refuses to eat even though she is hungry, sometimes she cries because she wanted that toy and I gave her a different one and often she cries when I leave the room (isn't her separation anxiety supposed to come at more like 9 months?), but having a down day isn't the same as being depressed.  i have to allow myself to feel rubbish without worrying that I am becoming ill, for that will only perpetuate the problem!

I love my little girl and I wouldn't not have her for the world, but my mental health had been stable for only about 2 years when she showed up, I took a big risk and I am pleased to report that, so far, we are all doing well :-)

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