Finally slipping into bed at night, I register, briefly, the fact I am not coping. Then one of the children wake wanting me, or sleep’s leaded fingers pull wool over my eyes, and I forget about it again for a bit.
I must pop it on one of my many to-do lists “Have postnatal breakdown” then under it, as always “buy milk and fabric softener”.
How decadent to have a breakdown. How does one do it exactly? Can you really just not get up one day? What do the kids do? Are you eventually dragged out of bed by the sound of small feet climbing on worktops foraging for Shreddies? Or do you still not get up even then? So who feeds the kids? It’s all very well this postnatal depression, but not very bloody practical.
Maybe my depression can take the form of a black dog at my shoulder, like Winston Churchill. Then I can get up, pour milk over cereal, chivvy children into boots and coats and cars, but take the depression along with me.
Excellent. Another bloody thing to carry. As if my arms are not full enough with the three kids, packed lunches, ballet kits and change bags. It would have to go on my shoulders. I’d have no other place to lug it about it, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to find it a spare car seat either. I’m giving the four-year old’s friend a lift home.
This tiredness, this anxiety, it’s nothing but a pain in the backside. Speaking of which, it would be so embarrassing to have a breakdown. I am already ashamed to go into the chemist since I had all that trouble with piles when I was pregnant. I can’t bear the thought of them knowing about this too. I’d have to collect prescriptions from Saltdean, but there is never anywhere to park. There is a high chance I’ll have a panic attack in the queue and have to rush out abruptly and empty-handed anyway.
Make time for you! Magazines and well-meaning friends and family say. Time for me. Me time. Time to do what exactly? Being a full-time-mum means just that. “Me” turned into “mum” and being “mum” slowly ate into everything else that I once was.
I don’t know what is more postnatally depressing, that I never get time alone, or that even if I did I have no idea what I’d do in it.
And I love the expression “full-time-mum”. Full time as opposed to what? Part time? Surely the problem with being a mum is the whole “all the time” part? Being a mum is not a hat you can slip on and off at will.
I can’t anyway. If I ever do dare go out without my mum-hat on, I soon start feeling guilty and have to race back to don it once more. If it is a hat, it’s a dunce one.
The simple truth is this. I don’t know how to be anything other than a mum, even when I am too tired to do it properly. But I don’t know how to hand over the reins either.
I don’t know how to sign over duties and stop caring about it all, although deep down I know I am running on empty. Maybe I fear the breakdown stage comes if I don’t care anymore.
Sometimes, still, I wish I could stop caring.
I am at the “Ok, I will go upstairs and have a lie down, but will be listening to every shriek, demand for a drink and row over what to watch on TV while I am up there and when I do reappear I will be cross about the mess made, trying to give me break” stage.
Also, it’s more than likely I will reappear within ten minutes to inform the very kind person who is trying to help me that the kids don’t like beans anymore, so don’t make any for dinner, and don’t let them have juice before dinner, or they won’t eat anything anyway, and oh? Is that the way you make mash? It’s a bit messy, oh just get out the way and let me do it (big theatrical sigh)
It’s ungrateful and almost arrogant of me to think I can do this mum business better than anyone else, especially when I am doing it crossly and clumsily because I am so tired.
For all the self-loathing that comes with postnatal depression, the “I am fat, useless, a fraud, a fake, a bad mother/wife/friend/person”, I don’t seem to think anyone else truly capable of
taking over from me for a while.
Maybe then I don’t think so little of myself after all? Or maybe I am desperate to let go but don’t know how. Like when dartplayers develop dartitis and physically stop being able to let go of the dart. Even after all that lining up and preparing.
I think my mum-hat has slipped over my eyes. I can’t see properly anymore.
I am not trying to be a hero when I reject offers of help. I am desperate to take a break from the groundhog-ness that comes with motherhood.
I want to find “me” time and things for me to do in it, honest.
I’m just too tired and busy right now.
Postnatal Depression is a depressive illness which affects one
in ten mothers. PND has many symptoms, although, often women are not even aware
they are suffering from it.