“I’m the mum of a child with special needs, and I struggle with depression.
It’s not easy to admit that, but to be honest, I’m tired of hiding it. Because truth be told, it’s exhausting; I’m 8 years into this journey and though I have had many good times, and try to remain positive, I have also had plenty of bad times which leave me struggling to get up in the morning and face the day.
I’m currently going through a low period, so I thought it would be a good time to write an open and honest post about why I’m struggling, in the hope that it will help clear the dark clouds hovering over me, and so that it can perhaps help others to talk about their feelings too.
Firstly, I don’t want you to think that I’m depressed because I have a daughter with special needs. I accepted that a long time ago, and feel thankful that I have such a special bond with my strong, beautiful and courageous little girl. Nor am I depressed because this life isn’t the one I thought (pre-children) that I’d be living.
I believe that I’m depressed because I’m actually emotionally and physically knackered! Don’t get me wrong, I know that parenting in itself has that affect on almost every parent or carer out there. But there is a big difference between my parenting experience for Elliot and for Tilly. It’s not only that she is harder work because she still wears nappies; needs help to get in/out of the bath/car/bed; can’t communicate her needs and wants easily; and needs constant supervision. It’s that I rarely get a chance to have a sustained period of not thinking about the next battle I have to fight for her….or the next appointment or meeting I have to attend to discuss her…or the next report I have to read…or the next form I have to complete…or researching the latest therapy we should try.
It’s the things that draw you into an internal battle between your emotions and your duties to be your child’s advocate – a constant pushing and pulling scenario that, after several weeks of the same, can leave you rather broken.
That has been life for the last few months. A lot of the enjoyment from being Tilly’s mum has been removed, or at least bruised, because I’ve had so many of these battles to deal with. I’ve been struggling to find the energy to pull myself up, shake myself off and enjoy my journey with Tilly.”
I wrote this a couple of months ago when I was having a tough time. But I didn’t finish it, and didn’t feel ready to publish it.
But having reread it, I’m reminded of how difficult life on this journey can sometimes be. And I do want to share it now. Because it’s not always that difficult.
Right now, it’s not all that bad (touches her wooden table for luck). We’ve had a lovely Christmas break, Tilly and her brother have been playing together more than ever, she’s been going through a fun (but mischevious!!!) stage, and many of the fights I had to embark on have been won…more will follow on that soon.
I’m at a stage in our life where I’ve started to focus on myself a bit more. I’m enjoying fitness again, which was always a big part of my life and is a great tool for helping me deal with depression, but was put on hold when Tilly was born. I’m also not having to attend meetings and appointments several times a week and actually have some free time. So I’ve taken the plunge and have signed up to study for 6 months in preparation for my grand entrance to the world of employment again.
There will be tough times and battles to be won again – life has a funny way of throwing the bad stuff at you – but the longer this journey goes on, the more armour and ammunition I am building up so that the battles will be easier to fight.