I am not sure where to start on this, maybe some details- I have 2 children aged 7 and 4, a full time job, I am a Shropshire Councillor and my husband works away 5 days a week. I also suffer from depression and anxiety for which I take fluoxetine.
The medication means that everyday tasks, such as brushing my teeth and getting the little darlings ready for school are less overwhelming. What most people don't understand is the sheer enormity of leaving the house to do the school run and what it is like for someone with mental health issues.
There are literally hundreds of things that trip you up. What starts as a fairly good morning can often end in tears by the time you get home. The pressure parents are put under is ridiculous. You are judged at every turn. For me I am the scruffiest parent in town! I have enough trouble getting out of my PJ's let alone putting on make up and heels. My children might start off looking reasonable but by the time we get to school which is only 7 miles, they have usually had at least 4 fights- over who sits where, what music, who is right about the sky being cloudy or stormy and one interrupting the other. By the time we arrive, we are all harassed. What I see is other parents walking their little treasures serenely into school, mine are whirling around the car park, falling over and arguing about who won the race to class.
Social media has a lot to answer for. For example-breaking up for the summer, mothers saying how much they are looking forward to having their delights for 10 weeks, me thinking bloody hell, what am I going to do, where can I farm them out to, how am I going to afford the holiday club, thank goodness for work.
The first family holiday of the year, everyone is checking into airports and holiday destinations with whoops of joy. Mine off for a week at Centre Parcs, hoping we survive, in fact we are going in two cars for our own sanity!
I don’t share happy family selfies, what is one of those! As for back to school pics, while other siblings are gleefully hugging, mine are either in separate pictures or at arms length. Social media has a way of isolating you...
.... I feel like the only one with difficult children and I ask myself are they difficult because of me and my mental health?
It’s even worse for me because mine are IVF, I can’t have children naturally, that makes me feel like I can’t complain about them, because of what we went through to have them. More guilt.
To deal with all of this, it is so easy to hide. So I am either doing this or putting on my happy face, making it look like I am the superwoman I want to be. I want to inspire a good work ethic in our children but I lack the energy to engage all the time with them, my kids don’t shut up from the moment they open their eyes, one even talks in her sleep. I love my children dearly but they drive me up the wall and parents should be allowed to say that.
In one week I went to see the head of the school twice, I feel like the only one, not only do I have to make excuses for myself but for my children as well.
There are some days when I feel like the only reason I continue is because I won’t trust anyone else to look after my cats!
So what is my safe space?
I guess like a lot of people suffering from depression and anxiety my safe space is also my prison. My home is the only place I feel safe but on the flip side leaving it for any length of time triggers panic attacks, so I am trapped in a never ending cycle. I would spend all day in my PJs if I didn’t have to drop the kids at school.
I know that going out for a walk would help in many ways but stepping over the threshold even to put the bin out can seem like an impossible task.
Gardening is recommended for depression but knowing where to start is just too overwhelming to contemplate.
I have stacks of self help books that I intend to read once the kids have gone to bed but I end up playing candy crush as its a mind numbing activity after a day of trying to get through work.
I think the reason I do consider my house as my safe space is by the evening I find comfort, the sofa, a cup of tea, my bed but most importantly my cats.
At the moment I am finding the challenge to train for a 50k walk a real help it is a motivator to raise money to help others with mental health issues. I am determined to do this.
I see my 7 year old daughter really struggling with self confidence and I know she gets that from me,
I am determined that she will learn to accept and love herself as she is and give her the awareness of good mental health that I never had.
Clare is a guest blogger sharing her story and thoughts about a safe space. Over the next few months we are asking for more stories to explore what is a safe space? what does it mean to you? do you have this space in your life? what does it feel like? Is it important? How is it created?
Please get in touch to share your ideas- catherine (@) designsinmind.co.uk