At the moment all I want to do is wake up in the morning and feel happy to start the day. I cringe when I open my eyes because I feel so groggy, I don’t want to be forced down the stairs to feed little mouths and minds. I don’t like that I dread opening the curtains because then the light will come in and I will have to acknowledge that this is another day, another 15 hours of struggle until I get to close my eyes again and be happy in dark ignorance. I hate that I can rarely get myself dressed until 11am, and by then it’s baby naptime, so there’s no point in doing anything until baby wakes up. Then there’s lunch followed by toddler naptime and when that’s all done with the day is basically over and we’ve spent the whole time rattling around in our house.
Sometimes I get glimpses of how it should be: occasionally the feeling of heaviness and foreboding leaves. I am dressed and excited for the day and I find myself having a little spring in my step. It’s such a tease because this is how it should be! This is what my life should be like all the time, enjoying these two wonderful people who came from me, not forcing myself into jolliness for their sake, you know? Actually living and being the jolliness, feeling it without having to work for it. But the cruel thing is that I’m never quite sure how the good days happen. I don’t know why I spend one day smiling and feeling light hearted and the next on the constant verge of tears or worse, hiding in the kitchen so the kids can’t see the sobbing that happens for no reason.
The GP has been quite rubbish. I went to her four weeks ago as the tablets she’d prescribed me, though I felt they were working, were causing me to sleep 10-12 hours a day. Not practical. I was constantly heavy eyed and searching for my next fix of sleep, and even more unable to get up in the morning. She took one look at me, said I was looking better as I wasn’t crying and told me to stop taking them. She said that anti depressants only affect about 10% of how you feel so they weren’t doing that much anyway. I was in there for 5 minutes, she didn’t ask me any more questions about my behaviour or state of mind. It was quick, easy, impersonal and totally wrong for me.
I’ve since had 4 weeks of horrible withdrawal effects: vertigo, night sweats, insane palpitations. If you include the two weeks of awful anxiety, insomnia and teeth grinding I had when I went on the medication, I have had side effects for as long as I was taking the tablets.
I felt a bit like I was on a conveyor belt with my GP. I told her I wasn’t coping, with no further probing she put me in the ‘woman with PND’ box and sent me along my way with 20mg of citalopram and a nod. And when I was having problems with that she didn’t probe, she just took me off the medication. The CBT I enquired about was ‘not worth it as the waiting list is too long, you’ll be better by the time it comes around’.
I thought that she must know best in telling me to come of the medication so I did, but I think she was wrong. I have so much faith that what doctors say is without question the right thing (apart from with Elfie… I always am suspicious then) so I did what I was told. But I don’t feel any better, just a bit more disheartened at the help that’s on offer.
One dangerous part of the way I’m feeling at the moment is that I’m so good at putting a brave face on it. I am used to just getting on with things and making sure everyone around me is clean, fed and happy and because I’m managing to function there has been no urgency. Even though I have these bad days I also have good days so I suppose have been wondering, is this what my life is destined to be like now? Just surviving, getting through each day? Enjoying only about 20% of it but that’s better than nothing: is there actually anything wrong with me?
My life at the moment is lived through a glass window. I’m looking at it, it’s happening in front of me, but I don’t feel like I’m an active part of it. Sometimes the window opens and I can reach through and be present in my life – these are the good days – but then the window closes and I return to my role of spectator.
The thing is, I had started to just come to terms with the fact that this would be my normal. The GP effectively signed me off as healthy (which may be slightly my fault as I’m so good at ‘faking it’), where else is there I can go from here? It is only through emails from a couple of friends who have been going through similar experiences that I have realised how much support I still need. They’re receiving therapy, weekly GP visits, proper specific mental health support. This is what I need, I don’t think I can continue to cope for much longer on my own.
All together this all sounds like a bit of a negative post, but it’s not. It’s positive if anything. Because I have come to the realisation that I am not OK, life is still crappy for me, and most importantly it doesn’t have to be this way. I didn’t know that before, I thought I just had to get on with it.
So I have taken the first step once again: I plucked up the courage to ring my Health Visitor last week (are you still allowed to have a Health Visitor when your baby is 9 months old?) and she’s coming to see me on Monday. I will not be afraid to tell her how I feel, it’s more important now than ever to be brave and admit to it. I need to see a doctor again and I will insist it is a different one to last time. I want proper support – I deserve proper support. I will kick this thing and turn my bad days into good ones again.