I haven’t blogged, been on facebook, twitter, read any other blogs or even checked my emails for weeks. I have been recovering from a crippling bout of anxiety and depression which has all but floored me. Normal life, opening mail, going on a computer and so on just became so anxiety provoking for me that I had to completely shut down from the world while I tried to recover.
My mental health is constantly a roller coaster ride of either coping spectacularly well or being completely on the floor. A nice, calm journey along the middle ground is one that appears to elude me. Usually I roll with the waves and ride high during my productive, active periods and lay low during the dips. However this latest dip has been far more serious and long lasting than usual and the journey out of it has been a tough one with lots of relapses.
When I think of what I have coped with in the past I struggle to understand why, now that life is so much easier, I am still so badly affected by anxiety which often, for me, leads to depression.
Although Mollie no longer has violent meltdowns and my days of fighting for a diagnosis and understanding from the professionals involved with her are over I do not appear to be moving forward. My nerves are constantly on edge, my heart is constantly having palpitations and my stomach is always churning with a sense of impending doom. Although my circumstances have improved dramatically since removing Mollie from mainstream education my own mental health and bodily reactions appear to be stuck in a time warp.
The permanent anxiety that I feel from normal day to day living and responsibilities drain me. This is when the extreme exhaustion and depression sets in. It is horrible and this time my normal functioning came to an abrupt halt. Following several weeks of feeling exhausted, anxious and tired 24/7 I found myself in bed and unable to get up and function. Thankfully Mollie’s sleep was upside down at the time and so I could take to my bed during the time she slept. Just getting up to try and keep the house clean or to prepare meals took every ounce of strength that I had and I would retreat to my bedroom as soon as I could. My bedroom was the only place where I felt safe and where I could completely shut away all of the outside world.
During this period I felt the following thoughts and feelings
- Guilty that I couldn’t do more to help Mollie. She is was no longer going out at all and her sleep was back to being upside down. Should I be doing more or was I doing the correct thing in allowing her the time and space to decide for herself when to leave the house and to gradually turn her own sleep around. I had huge self doubts regarding my choices for Mollie and once again found myself trying to convince or justify my parenting both to myself and to others.
- Constant worrying over how things would turn out for Mollie as she grows older and having no idea of what the future will hold for her.
- Feeling very lonely, isolated and out of sync with the rest of the world. Mollie is far, far easier than she used to be and life is copeable with but I find it far from enjoyable. I try to make the best out of things but, if I’m being completely honest, I do find the isolation and the monotony of the long days extremely difficult to cope with. This of course can lead to periods of resentment towards PDA for robbing me and Mollie of a normal functioning life. This resentment is, I hasten to add, not towards Mollie but towards PDA only.
- Sometimes working so hard for the most tiny of achievements like getting her to attend a small club once a week, encouraging her to leave the house for the first time in a month to go to the cinema, eventually seeing a normal sleep pattern return, achieving a bath and hair wash session or simply getting her dressed can be soul destroying. This is felt ten fold when those small achievements, that have being so hard fought for, simply slip away or start to go backwards.
- Life can feel as if it just isn’t worth living anymore. I would never, ever do anything stupid but it doesn’t mean that I don’t experience those thoughts of hopelessness, despair and wondering just what is the point anymore. This is when the dark cloud of depression really hovered above my head and the tears of despair readily flowed.
- Mollie’s inability to leave the house means that we are both imprisoned and I fear that I am slowly becoming institutionalised and I am finding it harder and harder to mix with other people. Even going on facebook or checking my emails would have my stomach in knots.
- I become almost OCD like regarding housework and clutter. The house being untidy and things out of place can just reduce me to tears in an instant and the visual stimuli of stuff everywhere can send me into a state of panic. Everything can feel very much out of my control and the clutter in the house is just another area of control that I can feel slipping away. I live with a child with PDA so clutter, mess and every room being simultaneously upside down simply comes with the territory. But when I am not coping very well this simply becomes just another area that can bring me to my knees.
A few years ago I was coping with far more turbulent circumstances than I am now while also simultaneously juggling my own business, running a home and dealing with mental health issues that my husband and son were going through. So why can’t I seem to cope now that things are so much easier.
Perhaps the depths of mental strength that have to be used during the years of meltdowns, physical and verbal abuse, fighting the professionals, fighting for support and fighting for diagnosis and understanding just permanently depletes your mental resolve. At the time you cannot afford to give up, be depressed or collapse in a heap because there is no option. You are in the middle of a battle zone and there is no choice other than to fight. However perhaps it is only when the fighting is over that the true extent of the injuries can be ascertained. They may not be evident at first but perhaps slowly but surely, when the dust settles, the mental battle scars and the damage that they have done begin to show.
Maybe the years of damage are now taking there toll and perhaps if I wasn’t plagued by anxiety and depression I would find the monotony and the isolation of my current situation easier to handle.
I have decided to write this post and to be as honest as possible about my current situation in case it is a situation that others may find themselves in either now or in the future.
It is a horrible place to be and if you are not mentally well then you simply can’t parent or advocate for your child to the best of your abilities.
I am slowly regaining my mental strength but I have needed help. I have been to the doctors and I am back on medication myself. The medication is working and it is only now that I am feeling better that I realise just how ill I have been even during the periods when I thought that I was ok. The edge has gone off the nerves, my heartbeat now feels normal and the churning pit in my stomach has slowly come to a stop. I still have days when it comes back but the positive days are now, by far, out weighing the negative ones. Perhaps, for me, medication is now a necessity in order to keep my mental health balanced.
If you have had years of battling and are now in the calm after the storm please be aware of how these things can bite you on the bum. If you have had or are currently feeling as I have been then please go to your GP’s and ask for help. Don’t continue living in a yo yo state of existence, as I did, until the big crash comes. Whether it be medication, counselling or CBT therapy please try and make the necessary precautions and steps to rectify matters before they get out of hand.
Thank you for reading this post and my apologies to the PDA army for my complete lack of activity or support during the last couple of months.