The low tone, barely a whisper “Mummy, cuddle me” wakes me from my sleep. I cuddle him like a submissive servant obeying her master. The rush of love brings me to life, reminding me of the reason for my existence. I slowly come to, trying to work out how I feel this morning as I reach for my phone to find out the time. Light streams through the gap in the curtains as I realise that, for now at least, I feel content and excited for what today might bring. Today Lady Anxiety and her good friend Sir Depression have stayed away. The black dog has not paid a visit and relief surrounds me as I smile to myself.
Not every day is like this. There are many times, probably half if not more, when my body feels heavy with dread and doom. When I realise I will need to rely on the husband’s gentle tones of encouragement to even get washed and dressed. The days when it will be up to him to meet Harry’s requests for a trip to the park, an ice-cream for the corner shop, a kick about in the field. When even meeting his basic need for fuel feels like a task as challenging as climbing Everest. The days I fail as a Mummy to the most wonderful son.
It’s not because I don’t want to. I want more than anything to be able to take him out every day. To be able to watch his face light up in wonder at new discoveries. To hear the excited cry when he spots an aeroplane high in the sky, leaving white streaks across the cornflower blue sky “Look! It’s a space rocket going to the moon!” But wanting isn't enough.
I don’t want to miss hearing him asking all the questions in chatter that only a small child can. “Why is the grass green? Where has the blossom gone? Dogs should wear nappies, then they wouldn’t leave poo. Why don’t they wear nappies? What is that man doing? Why is that baby crying? Where is the lady going? Why can’t I walk on this road, look there are no cars? Why can’t we just take that car when no one else is using it? Can we go to the seaside now? Now, now, now?” Barely stopping to take a breath such is the exciting journey of discovery he is on. I don’t want to miss them but sometimes I do. Sometimes the fog is too heavy to shift, the sadness too great to push away.
Having anxiety or depression isn’t as simple as feeling a bit anxious or a bit down. It’s feeling like a heavy fog is hanging over you, weighing you down. It’s feeling sick at the thought of the short walk to nursery and back. It’s trembling when you are home alone and the doorbell goes or the telephone rings unexpectedly. It’s feeling sad when you know you have everything you wanted; a warm home, a beautiful and happy child, an incredible husband and the best family and yet something is missing, something you know money can’t buy. It’s going to bed each night and not knowing if you will sleep or how you feel in the morning. It’s turning down social occasions because you can’t leave the flat without your husband by your side. It’s thinking everyone is laughing at you, judging you. It’s feeling tired but unable to sit still, feeling agitated yet unable to function.
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week from 12-18 May 2014. This year the focus is on anxiety. You can find out more here.