Carer Mental Health

On Tuesday of last week I sat in my car in the pouring rain taking a scheduled call from NHS talking therapies.

It was essentially a triage service to see what they could do for me. The lady on the other end of the call gently asked what had caused me to reach out for help. I told her that for 48 hours of the previous week I hadn’t been able to stop crying. Not quiet weeping or the odd bout of sobbing but guttural, hysterical, vomit inducing crying like it was coming from the bottom of my soul. For two full days.

I’ve forgotten how to cope I said. I’ve coped for over 9 years. More than that I’ve thrived on the demands of my life. Being a mother and a carer are the two things in life that I know with some degree of certainty that I do well. The addition of a little brother for our girls in June had brought us total joy. It’s like he’s always been here, we all adore him, he sleeps pretty well for a three month old, he’s very chilled and content. There was no way I could feasibly call it postnatal depression. My anxiety was far more widespread.

Start at the beginning she said. So I did.

I told her our story from beginning.

When I’d finished she exhaled. Wow. Have you had any mental health support at all she asked?

I never thought I needed it I said.

‘Right, is there anything else I need to know about your ability to access therapy or ability to commit to a short course of treatment?’

‘Well only that the idea of having something else I need to commit to in itself makes me feel anxious.’

‘You sound pretty extraordinary to me Elizabeth, we will get you some help as soon as we can.’

I started the engine to drive round the corner to school and as I did a message flashed up on the dashboard. System Malfunction, it said, Service Required.

The irony was acute. I added it to my to do list. I know how it feels.

Once the dust had settled on my 48 hours of doing 9 years worth of crying and I had made my appointment with the talking therapies team I started to examine what I was doing differently now than I have previously. Why had I lost my coping mechanisms.  A few things came to mind.

Blogging was my venting mechanism my way of processing things, my link with the rest of the world. My way to make sense of what we were going through, to celebrate our victories and share our struggles. I have not blogged regularly for over two years.

The next thing that I recognised was that I used to celebrate my ability to sweat the small stuff. I revelled in the idea that I had the head space to think about things that were not life and death. ( click here for this from 2013)

It has now been so long since I’ve had that sense of impending doom or even that pit of the stomach fear for Mojo’s health that I am now terrified of it’s return. I don’t want it back. I don’t want to stand in hospital corridors playing down how serious things are to family or on my knees in the hospital chapel pleading with all that I am worth for her to be okay. I don’t want that feeling back, not ever. Yet, there is an inevitability to the fact that I will feel it again. Life limiting conditions are just that and this long period of stability and good health have allowed me to indulge in what is potentially a false sense of security. Maybe I’m not tough enough to cope with it these days. 

For now I need to deal with this bump in the road before we move on to the perpetually rescheduled major surgery currently scheduled for October. I am no use to anyone like this. 

This is not a cry for help or even for attention – frankly I’d ideally like to be under a duvet with my babies and for the whole world to leave us alone for a month or two but I am recognising that by writing down how I’m feeling I am going some way to exorcisng it. To regaining my coping mechanisms, dusting myself off and starting again. 

1 thought on “Carer Mental Health”

  1. You don’t know me but I’ve been following your blog and Mojo’s progress for a while and love to hear how amazing she is. I think you’re incredibly brave being so upfront about not coping and that it’s frankly astonishing that you’ve got through everything of the last few years without this happening before. Well done on asking for help, it’s often the hardest thing to do, and there’s still way too much stigma around mental health. I hope you get what you need and the cloud lifts soon. And if one outcome of this is more regular blogging I’ll be delighted!


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