I remember…

I wasn’t sure whether to post this or not but it’s Mental Health Week here in Sheffield and I feel l need to get this off my chest. The only to improve mental health is to bring awareness to it and that it’s okay to open up and it’s okay to not be okay.

When I was 16 years old, I attempted suicide. Here is what I wrote:

I remember when I made the decision that this was the only way out. I remember feeling shocked at myself that I was making that decision. I remember everything being blurry because of the tears. I remember walking over to where I knew the pills were and picking them up, taking them out of the packet and staring at them. I remember popping them out one by one until I lost count. I remember the bitter taste of them as they went down my throat and crying as l looked down at the empty packet…

‘What have I done?’

I remember nothing else until I woke up in hospital. I remember being scared and confused. I remember looking over next to me and he was there, holding my hand and looking scared and confused too. I don’t remember many of the conversations we had between us. I remember feeling guilty as I remember what I did. I remember feeling angry at what I did. I also remember wondering why it didn’t work. I was scared.

I remember the nurses asking me how I’m feeling and what I remember. I remember being scared they would take me away and lock me up because I was ‘crazy’. I remember when he had to go home to change and eat. I remember thinking he won’t come back to me after this. I remember them telling me a psychiatrist was coming in the morning to evaluate me. I remember crying that night thinking l would be taken away.

I remember waking up and seeing his face, still smiling at me regardless of the hell l’d put him through. I remember feeling confused as to why he came back. His eyes so gentle and kind. I knew he was angry. I remember him saying he wasn’t angry at me but he was angry. I remember feeling better. I remember telling him my fears. I remember him telling me they weren’t real. I remember him telling me he won’t leave me. I also remember him telling me they won’t take me away. I remember believing him. I still do.

I remember when the psychiatrist came. I remember him asking me a lot of questions. I don’t remember any of them. I remember him telling me l made a mistake. I didn’t mean to do it and it was an impulse. I remember breathing out after realising I was holding my breath in as I waited for a verdict. I remember him telling me they won’t take me away. I remember the soft chuckle he made after hearing me say that. I remember feeling relieved that he somehow understood me. I remember wondering if that’s just because it’s his profession to understand me or if he really did. I remember him making the decision to discharge me. I remember crying because I didn’t know if that was a good idea. It was.

I remember counselling, I remember recovering. It was a long road. I remember understanding I wasn’t alone or crazy. I also remember feeling like I couldn’t talk about it. I’m doing it now.

Now at 21: I have a son, I have someone who wants to be with me. I still remember him holding my hand in the hospital and saying those words to me 5 years ago. We have a house together. I have started a business.

I may not have a degree. I remember being made to feel like a failure for that. I may have done horribly at my A levels. I remember feeling lost when everyone else applied to university. But, I’m alive. I’m happy. That, to me, is not failure or loss. It used to be.

I don’t want to remember any of that anymore.

I want to always remember this:

The way my son looks at me with so much love, even though I’m still learning to give myself that kind of love. The way Rodney holds my hand when I’m sad, the same way he did that day 5 years ago. The laughter in our house when we’re chasing Kai up and down. The happiness in his face. This is what I want to remember.

And I’ll never go back to that place again because I will always remember this.

Mental health is important. Just as important as a broken arm and you’d want to get checked out for that, wouldn’t you? Sometimes your mind also needs that kind of attention and healing. You are not alone and there’s nothing wrong with speaking about it. There’s nothing wrong with seeking help. It took me going through what I did to realise that. You don’t need to.

The only way to improve mental health is to bring awareness to it. That’s what I’m doing. Let’s be aware that we don’t need to feel alone because we’re not. Let’s reduce the rates of suicides. The attempts too. Let’s teach our children to open up. Let’s not make our boys feel like they have to suppress their feelings or make our girls feel like they’re too emotional. We’re all different but we all matter. Let’s build a healthier mentality. Start with you. Start today.

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21st Birthday

I finally turned 21 on Tuesday. I can’t believe it. I would never have thought at 21 I’d be a mum but that’s how life works, it’s not a straight line. 5 years ago if you would’ve asked me where I’d be in 5 years, I would’ve said in university studying Midwifery & going on to specialise in Neonatal. 

Instead, I took out a gap year after doing a whoopingly crap job at my A levels due to a lot of unforeseen, tragically traumatic events that happened leading up to my exams. 

A year after working, I decided to make the decision to get my own flat and I bloody loved that place. My very own sanctuary. I reckon I moved in around June of that year and by November I found out I was pregnant. And here we are. 

Blessed with a beautiful 8 month old baby who is  so happy and healthy, I was almost entirely sure I would’ve cocked it up by now or done some sort of runner and to my surprise I’m bloody loving it. I mean I had absolutely no idea how hard it would be and I was not emotionally prepared for most of it but I’m dealing with the difficult times much better than I was. It’s quite a lonely job being a mum, I’ve found. I’ve realised I have no frequent friends, I used to but now I have zero. That’s what I’ve found the hardest. However, I’m dealing with that much better also. 

I went away for my 21st with my little family in Kent and I loved it. It was one of the best birthdays I’ve had! 

The strain 

If there’s one thing I hate it’s arguments. I know they are necessary and healthy but I hate that sick feeling they give me afterwards. When you are preparing to have a baby you hear all this advice on how to care for your baby and how you’ll be getting no sleep but no one told me about the strain it has on your relationship. That, I must admit, l was completely unprepared for. 

You can’t express the love and joy you feel when your baby enters the world. That moment when you look at them after 9 months of seeing an alien scan. Me and my partner looked at each other with such happiness and joy like everything was going to be okay. Little did we know that this would be the beginning of a few trials. 

It’s not that l don’t love him, l always will. It’s just harder to love him the way I used to. I don’t see him the same way and l know why but I just can’t shake this feeling. There’s critical moments in life when you’ll be the most vulnerable and whoever is around you has the power to make things more difficult or easier for you. For me, there was quite a few critical moments after having the baby when he could have made things easier but chose not to. So it’s safe to say, there’s some resentment. I continue to question, to this day, why he didn’t make the other choices. The ones that could make my life easier. I understand all the factors and difficulties they do through as dad’s but it’s no match for what women go through, let’s be honest. With all things considered, it’s not reason enough to have made things more difficult for me. 

It sounds bad but a part of me hates him for that. How do l make this go away? What do l do? I’m so conflicted. When I actually think about how much women go through that men will never understand, it’s sad. You give birth to this angel and then your life becomes being their primary carer. A full time job. Then you have another person you’re also looking after, you have to keep them happy too and make sure they’re getting attention too. Oh also you have to make sure you’re also okay and looked after. For me, it felt like I was looking after all three of us and no one was looking after me. In some ways, I still feel like that now. 

Ugh. I don’t know what to do. But I can see why some couples don’t make it after having a baby. I’m all talked out with him. He knows how I feel. He always has. He knows how much I’ve struggled. I’ve always told him how l feel. Which I guess makes it worse as to why he chose not to make things easier knowing everything I’m going through. I wish I just knew what to do, how to carry on. He’s still making bad choices that make my life harder. That’s why I’m up at 6am writing this because I’m so angry or hurt even that I can’t sleep even though I’ve had a bad night with a teething baby. 

I guess guess for now I’ll just take comfort in the fact l have somewhere to vent. None of my friends are really that available so right now, this blog is my friend. And whoever else choosing to read it. I appreciate it, it’s nice to be heard. 

An introduction to my madness

l’m not quite sure how to start this but all l know is that l needed a platform or just a place to talk about the things l struggle with. l have always found comfort in writing diaries but l have never been that consistent if l’m honest.

A brief introduction of me is l’m 20 and a new mum. I found out l was pregnant around mid November of 2015 and l was a few weeks. l don’t recall my exact reaction but l remember a mix of emotions. l took the test in my new flat that l had just recently moved into that July and my boyfriend was there. l glamorously pee’d on the stick and awaited the instructed 3 minutes. l had those Clear Blue digital ones that tell you how many weeks you are so there wasn’t the pleasure of automatically seeing which lines are starting to appear or darken. l really had to wait 3 minutes. l watched the stick for the entire time and it felt like a lifetime. Once the time was up, the words appeared. ‘ Pregnant, 2-3 weeks’

It felt unreal. Scary. l called my boyfriend over and he could see the shock in my face. He looked at the stick and smiled. He was very happy. Excited even. l was very confused. Some reassuring words followed from him which l don’t recall because l was probably now falling into a deep panic and uncertainty. From there, it’s safe to say that some body waste really hit the fan.

My family comes from Africa so there’s ‘rules’ when this sort of this happens. l have to be honest. l don’t agree with these nor will l ever understand them. However, l respect them. Me and my boyfriend both grew up knowing these sorts of ‘rules’ occurred but we were never brought up with them nor were we provided a manual so we made an agreement to be respectful and go with the ‘rules’ out of respect.

Now in my 20 years, l have made some rather horrendous decisions. Terrible, in fact. But this one…this was one of the worst decisions of my life. This decision affected my relationship with my family, my boyfriend and his family but worst of all it affected my pregnancy. Not physically. l was healthy. But when there started to be a mental strain on me, unfortunately because of my body being so vulnerable and prone to so many dangers…the mental caused the physical problems.

l won’t go into what happened right now, maybe that’s for another time but l wanted to mention it or get it off my chest because it’s something l’m still trying to forgive myself for and in some aspects, my family for. Not that the stress hurt my baby but he could’ve had a more peaceful incubator to develop in. l feel like, in a way, l let him down and could’ve been stronger and said no when l needed to. l should’ve protected him from that.

l was quite independent before l got pregnant l would say. Quite strong and determined. l’m speaking in past tense because l don’t feel that way anymore. l had a strong work ethic, enjoyed working and spending my own money. Having my own space. So you can only imagine what a shock to my system it was being pregnant and having my baby finally here. Not being able to do things for myself was a gigantic struggle. l didn’t want to stop working but physically my body would not let me. l had to slow down. This was towards the last 3 months of my pregnancy. Basic things like getting out of bed, getting out of the bath or just walking were proving difficult. I pee’d randomly. I had no control of my own body. l wouldn’t say l was depressed but this really got to me. A lot. No one really understood how much. Maybe l didn’t vocalise it much. Maybe l shut down. l don’t really recall much. Don’t get me wrong though. l, more than the average person, am overwhelmed by the beauty of humans creating humans. l find it so fascinating and special that l want a career in it. l just didn’t realise how bloody difficult it was. l’m not going to feel bad for talking about the struggles of pregnancy just because some people can’t have children. l completely understand l should be grateful. l am. But l am also human. l am only mentioning this because l have gotten attacked on it in the past.

Moving on…

So, l have a very healthy and active 7 month old beautiful baby boy. l have never felt a love like this. He is everything to me, as l’m sure every loving mother says. l could have everyone walk out on me in my life but knowing l have him makes me feel a security l have never felt from any other human. Maybe it’s just the pure fact that he’s my child. Mine. No one can ever take that away from me. l carried him and gave birth to him and somehow that journey created this connection between us that no one else will ever feel but us. This is in no way discrediting my boyfriend, he’s an excellent father. Sometimes l feel like mums are scared of saying that because people will be like ‘well you didn’t make him alone’…but technically l did. Yes l didn’t ‘create’ him alone but l grew him. That makes him sound like a plant but you know what l mean. Anyway, l’m rambling. l feel like l touched on a LOT there. But that’s the real introduction to my madness. The madness is referring to my life but mainly to my journey of becoming a mum. Feels really good being able to share it.

 

Thanks for reading,

H