I had a wobbly couple of hours this morning. My sons cycle into school when the weather is good, but this morning was dull and wet so they were required to catch the bus. My eldest son had an important 9am exam so it mattered that he wasn’t late. He is always late; it drives me mad. I strive so hard to be on time for everything, even if it means a lot of hanging around. Like my husband, my son believes that his time is valuable and not to be wasted. The risks he takes with time baffle me.
I tried hard not to be cross or to show how stressed I was feeling as he gathered his books and equipment together. I mean, it is not me who has to sit the exam. My suggestion that he pack his bag the night before had obviously been ignored. He saw no problem with stepping in the shower ten minutes before he needed to leave the house. I decided that the easiest way to deal with the situation was for me to drive the boys to school. By taking control I could cope.
When I returned home I started to go through the motions of my day but I was on edge. My mood was plummeting and all the old gripes and concerns were bubbling to the surface in my mind. In need of some activity to wind me down I decided to go to the gym as this gives me time to think things through as I cycle and climb and row my way to nowhere on the machines. Mindless activity such as this helps me to process my thoughts and calm my mind; this is as much a benefit to me of gym membership as any improvements in my health or fitness.
It seems to me that a lot of the issues I have with my emotions stem from the fact that I need to feel in control of whatever is important to me. I think I may be a bit anal about this. I have probably created a lot of the problems that I now have to deal with because I couldn’t relinquish the control that I needed to cope with the difficult periods in my life. I had to do things my way, myself, in order to be sure that they would be done the way I wanted.
My husband’s illness last week, from which he is still not fully recovered, showed how lacking in sympathy I can be. I love my husband very much and I would have been happy to have provided him with some relief had any been available. I do struggle though to mop a brow and make the required ‘there, there’ noises. If I can be of practical help then you can count on me to make the effort. The touchy, feely stuff eludes me.
I have a chunk of ice inside that formed when my children were young. I found their early years incredibly hard, but those who offered to help didn’t do things the way I needed them to be done, and I couldn’t relinquish control. Of course, I know that letting them watch TV, not making them eat their vegetables or feeding them sugary puddings wasn’t going to make them bad people, but it went against what I wanted. I struggled on alone, doing things my way, rather than allowing others to treat my kids as they thought was fine rather than as I would.
I really don’t know how I could have done things differently. I see other mums who allowed their kids to be taken care of by family members or friends regularly in order to have a break; a little me time. I just couldn’t do it. In choosing to create these amazing young people I had accepted responsibility for their well being. I couldn’t rely on others to treat them as I would and I couldn’t make myself hand them over. It is not that I ever thought that the children would come to harm, it was my ability to deal with the situation that was the issue.
Somehow this wasn’t such a problem with formal childcare. I could leave the children at nursery and playgroup; the other children somehow diffused the impact. The social benefits gave reason to abdicating my responsibility for them in a way that just handing them over to another adult for my benefit did not.
So now I live with this sort of mental exhaustion that has left me numb and unable to articulate my needs, to seek solace and understanding. When I try to talk about what I am feeling I detect exasperation; I know that I brought this on myself but it is still a problem. Does it being all my own fault preclude me from requesting support?
I know that I have friends who want to help me through this but I am not yet convinced that they can see the issues through my eyes. I need empathy not blame; I judge myself harshly enough. At the moment it feels very much like another problem that I am going to have to deal with on my own, myself. I hope I can do so.I love the following quote. There are some people who seem to think that all feelings of depression would be solved if the sufferer would just snap out of it, that their life looks fine and they should stop being so self centred. If only it were that straightforward. From Douglas Adam’s ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’: Trillian:’What are you supposed to do with a manically depressed robot?’
Marvin: ‘You think you’ve got problems. What are you supposed to do if you are a manically depressed robot? No, don’t even bother answering. I’m 50,000 times more intelligent than you and even I don’t know the answer.’