Mums got it covered.
I have been in a very fortunate position as a mother, in that I have almost always been able to take and pick my children up from school, attend parent’s meetings, sports days and school performances. I understand how extremely lucky I have been, as I know that for a lot of parents, work commitments just don’t allow you the flexibility. For our family it had always been that way, my girls had never known any different, they knew that if there was something happening at school that they were apart of or wanted to attend mummy would be there, mummy would make it happen because that’s what she always did. They knew, my husband knew and I knew, mums got it all figured out, I love a plan, a schedule, I have to do lists for days and a mind and memory that won’t let me forget.
Mums got it covered!!
Riddled with guilt.
From 2009 when I first became a mum to 2016 “mum did have it covered”, but from the end of 2017 the wheels started to fall off, the structures, routines and just general day to day life no longer looked or felt the same. It seemed as though the anxiety went from naught to one hundred overnight, one day I am walking my children to school and the next I am sitting on the edge of my bed sobbing because the anxiety is too much to bear and leaving the house to do the short walk to school feels completely impossible.
Trying to explain to your children that you won’t be taking them again and again because you’re not feeling very well doesn’t ever get any easier no matter the number of times the conversation happens, every time it would break my heart, not only because I felt completely useless as a person in general, but because I could see the hurt and sadness in their eyes. The thing that hurt even more than that was when it eventually became their new “normal”… the expectation was no longer mummy will be there, mummy will take us, it was… someone will take us either daddy, nanny or mummy’s friend (A parent from the school). When sports days or school performances came around there was so much uncertainty for the girls, they didn’t know who was going to be there to support them, before they knew definitely mummy, now it was, “well hopefully someone will be able to make it?”
The guilt consumed me.
Skip forward to 2019, I had finally found the help that felt right and worked for me. I was in full swing of having hypnotherapy and with every session I was starting to feel more and more able to face my fears and trying as much as possible to do things that anxiety had put a stop to. Me being the person I am, fully believed that I would be able to run before I’d even began to walk again! On this particular occasion I was feeling a little more confident that usual and decided I wanted to try and face one of my biggest fears and biggest triggers…travel!
My mother and father have a lovely lodge in Wales that we are fortunate enough to be able to use whenever we like. We have some great memories there and the girls love going. So, with my new found confidence I figured it was worth a go an felt sure that I would be able to manage.
All packed up, and ready to go, two extremely excited little girls sat in the back of the car eager to get there… In the front seat a mummy that felt a lot less of the confidence she felt when she booked it! The anxiety had hit me full throttle and I knew in that moment things were only going to get worse the minute we started moving. We were less than 3 minutes into the journey and the Anxiety had already peaked and the further from home we got the worse I felt.
We had managed 12miles before I eventually said I can’t I need to stop, we stopped at a local McDonalds, which actually was always on my husband and I’s radar as a just in case, but I didn’t think for a minute I would have needed it so badly! We sat down with our meals, and I had put my sunglasses on (inside) because I was crying and I didn’t want anyone to see, mostly I didn’t want my children to see. It was in that moment I knew I wouldn’t be able to complete the journey, there was one of only maybe two more possible stops and I just knew it wouldn’t be enough, I knew that the anxiety I was feeling was turning into panic and If I even attempted to go any further in the opposite direction of my home it was going to get significantly worse, the panic would spiral I would lose all control.
With tears streaming down my face, I finally plucked up the courage to tell my girls that we were not able to go any further…
There in that moment it felt like someone had walked in ripped out my heart and, walked right back out again, the pain and upset in my girl’s eyes was literally soul destroying! To this very day that moment haunts me. They were heartbroken the sound of there broken voices asking over and over “but why mummy, please can we just go?”
The guilt that no one talks about.
There have been so many occasions in the last 6 years that I have felt unbelievable guilt, and it was always attributed to letting others down, for the most part letting my children down, feeling like I was unable to give them the things they wanted, needed and deserved. I felt I was no longer able to for fill what for me personally had been a basic part of parenting all the years I had been a mother.
Guilt is something that I have learnt is a huge factor when you are experiencing Mental Health challenges and yet it’s a part that so many people don’t talk about.
Why would you … who wants to admit that they had to “let someone down”, who wants to admit to making someone else feel sad because of something they didn’t feel able to do or see through? Who wants to talk about the time they broke their children’s hearts with a journey they couldn’t complete?
But the truth is the control was taken away from you, the mental health illness took control and that isn’t the fault of anyone! In those moments, your mind goes to fight or flight you are forced to act in the way that keeps you safe and if that means “letting someone down” then that’s what you have to do. If you were in control of the way you were feeling or the way your mind and body was reacting to a situation then you would stop it, but the truth of it is you’re not.
The feeling of guilt is a natural response in those types of situations and it’s a feeling I felt daily, but its important to remember that we are doing our best!
We can’t change the fact that we are going to feel guilty for things we are not able to do , go or attend but we can be gentle with ourselves and remember that if we could we absolutely would. This is why I feel it so important that we talk about this more, discuss it with the people around you and those that it impacts, if they have a better understanding then they will be better equip to support your feelings the next time you’re struggling with the guilt associated with your mental health challenges.
You are doing your best and despite what you think that is always enough, please remember that!
Share a smile not a judgement