Walking on the tight rope.

Walking the tight rope

Mental health is a bitch. It is a reactive, sensitive balancing act that, for some, seems like no problem at all and for others can be a precarious tight rope walk, just waiting to fall and hoping there is a net somewhere deep below. 

I was on that tight rope for a long time. I suffered with depression for many months, if not years and I suffered from post natal depression (PND) and anxiety with maybe a bit of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) thrown in there after having my daughter. Every now and again I feel like I’m back on it, wobbling. Not very often thankfully but every now and again. Today is not one of those days but I can completely understand how someone feels up there. 

My blog name is theperfectjuggler, which, for the most part is a ‘tongue in cheek’ name but, sometimes that extra ball can be the difference between having good mental health and it all going down the pan very quickly. 

The government have, this week, said that they will be putting more funding into mental health care. Perfect timing as Monday 16 January is known as ‘Blue Monday’. The most depressing day of the year. 

They want to make workplaces more able to help and support those with mental health issues, they want schools to teach about how to maintain good mental health and for teachers to know how to be aware of children who may be developing mental health issues and how to deal with those who already have them. They are also upping the funding into mental health services for pregnant women and new mothers. All of which have been seriously lacking. I agree with this focus and hope that they actually see this initiative through. 

Ironically I have just had to tell the department I work for that I will no longer be able to lead their Wellbeing group as my own mental health was suffering. This one added responsibility which I was passionate about and enjoyed, was the ball I could no longer juggle, and before I dropped it I had to put it down voluntarily.

I know lots of people that are suffering with ‘bad’ mental health, 1 in 4 of us will suffer with a mental health issue in our life time and I just want to say, I get it. I get feeling so low that you want to hide. I get that you don’t want to talk about it. I get that sometimes, it seems like the best way for everyone would be if you weren’t around anymore. I get that you didn’t think you could cry anymore but you do and I get that some people don’t get it. 

I also get that it can get better by focusing on the good things in your life and removing some of the bad ones, by not letting yourself become insular and selfish, by helping yourself climb back up the ladder to the tightrope, even if it’s just one tiny step at a time. It can get better by seeking help, and support from professionals, from family and from friends. By developing resilience techniques like mindfulness, meditation and exercise, to use when you next have a wobble. And lastly to realise that you can’t necessarily change what happens to you but only you can change how you deal with it when it does. 

Things will get better, I promise, I’m proof that they do. 

One of the phrases that pisses a single parent off.

When I’m lamenting my ex and the time we were together lots of people say ‘but you wouldn’t be without Charlotte, would you?’ This is the phrase that has come to piss me off most since becoming a single parent and after catching up with another single mum it’s not just me it would seem.

Of course, I love my daughter with all my heart and now she’s in my life I can’t bear to think of her not being in it but…I never wanted her to grow up in this family set up. I never wanted her to only see her dad every other weekend. I never wanted to make decisions based around money and surviving rather than what is in her best interest. I never wanted to think about how on earth I’d introduce her to someone new in my life and I never wanted to have a different surname to her.

IMG_0577-0.JPG
Hindsight is a wonderful thing but if I knew (which, truthfully, looking back, I probably should have had some inkling) that my ex and I would split when our baby was two, I’m not sure I would have chosen to have a child at that particular moment.

No, I don’t think the split has scarred her for life and I think she’s adjusted amazingly well to the life of a child from a broken home, but it saddens me greatly that the first two years of her life were filled with depression, tears, anger, frustration and guilt. Guilt being the only emotion I felt at her because I didn’t feel like I was being the best mother I could be, or the mother I wanted to be at that time and the person I expected to support me couldn’t or wouldn’t either. I just hope I’m now making up for lost time.

I always wanted children. When I was younger I never remember being excessively career focused because I wanted to be a mummy. Because of this, I know it’s probably my fault for pushing for a baby when my ex wasn’t ready (if he ever would have been). But in fairy tales once you get married you have a baby and I was living in a land of fiction thinking everything would be ok. If I’d stopped to look then I’d have realised we were not emotionally strong enough as a couple for it even before she came along.

So no, I don’t regret having my daughter because I get to watch her grow up and become an amazing girl and woman and some of my best memories with her probably wouldn’t have happened if things had been different. And no, I wouldn’t be without her. If somebody tried to take her away from me I’d unleash all hell but, would I choose to put a child, as well as myself through the past 18 pretty shitty months and all the time before the split? Would I choose to put a child through going back and forth from mummy’s to daddy’s house, having to hear conversations between mummy and daddy when they’re desperately trying to not shout at each other and having to listen to mummy cry because she just can’t hold it in anymore. Nope, I’m not sure I would.