Mint

“How are you, Cassandra? How can I help you today?” she says while looking at the screen as I sit on the orange padded chair I wonder if there’s any point in going through with this well rehearsed ordeal again and briefly flirt with the idea of heading straight out of the door.

“Erm, I just need some more pills. Please.”

“This is for your depression? How are you getting on with that?”

Yep. Fail. I should have left while I still had a chance.

I’m in the most excruciating pain you can imagine and soul crushingly numb simultaneously. I feel as if I’m floating and made completely of stone all at once. I’m wishing for nothing else but for someone to give me the permission to just not exist for a little while. I want to scream every single word polluting my thoughts and am not able to say a single word. I want to find comfort in anything I can to only discover that I’m not worth it anyway. They keep telling me that I need to fight and I don’t have any left. They keep saying that this doesn’t define me when I know nothing but. The shame of my child seeing the cuts and asking me what they are with fear in his eyes is haunting me by the minute. It’s the constant headache and shakes and ticks. It’s wanting to destroy everything I love because I don’t deserve to keep any of it. It’s ignoring the texts and emails and voicemails, because what’s the point? It’s collapsing on the floor and repeatedly banging my head until I pass out from pain and tears. It’s crying so hard that I’m sick and that I can’t remember why I started. It’s wishing I didn’t have to keep going and knowing that I can’t do anything to stop.

Obvs I can’t actually say any of that stuff out loud. I give a noncommittal shrug, “Not good.”

She looks at me blankly before scrolling through endless notes on the screen. I see words I don’t understand flash past and I desperately try to remember them, they feel important. I wonder if it’d be inappropriate to get my phone out to take a photo.

  • Dysthymia disorder.
  • Refusal to take antipsychotics.
  • Major depressive disorder.
  • Suicidal.
  • Self harm.

Dysthymia. Dysthymia. Dysthymia. Dysthymia… I think again and again so I can Google it when I finally get home. There’s mention of a drug called Minta-something too. I imagine a box of mint green capsules that taste like Tic Tacs.

She asks more questions, I have no idea what, and makes more scribbly notes on some headed paper, I begin to forget where I am and think to myself that she has nice nails. She mumbles something at me before hurriedly leaving the room.

Oh.

This is it, I think. This is when they make that phone call and take me away somewhere.

It should strike me as very wrong when I begin to question if there’s anything in the room I can hurt myself with but of course it doesn’t. Faced with boxes of sample bottles and wooden tongue depressors. Maybe I could break one? Or jab one in my eye really hard?

The tick carries on where it left off just as I was leaving home, sending my head back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

I have the urge to leave to see if anyone notices.

Fifteen more painful minutes lapse before she returns.

“Are you able to cope with your son?”

I stare at her drunkly. My head shouts YES. NO. YES. NO and all I’m able to do is shrug.

“Would you like me to contact Social Services?”

“No.”

“They might be able to just – ,”

“No.”

“OK, if you have any thoughts to harm yourself you must come straight back.”

“But I have those thoughts right now – you’re still going to let me leave in thirty seconds, aren’t you?”

She looks at me seriously and wheels her chair a little too close, “I’ll see you again in two weeks, Cassandra.”

Divine Intervention

There’s an overwhelming sense that I’ve been here before, dozens of times if not more, I’ve thought the same things, answered the same questions, ignored the same phone calls and written the same words, again and again and again.

With the same certainty as the seasons changing or the phases of the moon; hopeless, veins full of paralysing indifference and a stomach weighed down with nightmarish despair to at least being able to pretend it’s OK, to smile and laugh and fool myself into thinking that it won’t return. Refusing to see the footprints, the whispers of unease, the moments that can’t be shrugged off as just feeling tired or hormonal.

And bam.

It’s back.

The next episode, bigger and better than ever before with Dolby surround sound and special FX. I watch it unfold in third person, unable to control what happens next and what’s said. I know the script from memory, but I’m not delivering the lines. Something else is, it’s running away from them, it’s ad-libbing with reckless abandon and all I can do is watch from the back on the cinema and scream for it to stop.

Frozen by thoughts of where I’d stab myself in the wrist. Would it even matter where? And what would I use? I know it won’t happen, I know we’ll cut to another scene before it gets that far, I’ll be sat in another waiting room, somewhere, desperately trying to remember how to behave in public and whether I’ve been taking those fat chalky pills. But I’m stuck, somewhere between here and there and all I can do is gaze at the three blue veins visible beneath the skin, two darker and one a shade of turquoise I’m sure would be called Summer Skies or some such bollocks on a Dulux paint chart.

Maybe I should Google it.

Where to do it, not the colour, obvs.

My mind wanders to the kitchen cupboard, full of pills, of his pain medication and I find myself curiously thinking how many I’d have to swallow before this pain goes away.

All the while the phone rings, another voicemail flashes on the screen and I wait. I wait for something to happen, for someone to step in and take me somewhere I’ve not been before because I don’t know how many more times I can watch the same episode and hear the same words delivered with the same tone of urgency and pity and “It’ll be OK, I promise.”

And while I wait, the screen fades to black.

She’s Hearing Voices

I shrink into the corner, next to the wall smothered in posters for local support groups, emergency telephone numbers, notices, “If you’re waiting longer than 15 minutes for your appointment, please let the reception staff know.” I check my phone – twenty two minutes, and place it back into my pocket without any intention of getting up or telling anyone.

My hands are shaking violently. I can sense the woman a few chairs away watching me, I stare at the floor hard, really hard and try to disappear. A man is at the reception shouting at the staff. He’s upset and threatening to do something if they refuse him to see someone. Out in the lobby area, someone else is shouting into their phone. The claustrophobic waiting area fills up with even more people, full of questions and names, clinging onto tattered letters as if their lives depend on it and I can’t breathe.

The man shouts again. Slamming his bag to the floor. Punching the Perspex partition that separates us from them.

A baby cries somewhere.

It sounds like Noah.

The woman in the lobby swears into her phone, growing louder as the door between us swings open.

People walk around in the lobby, without any idea of where to go or how they got here in the first place.

A man appears at the door. He looks around the waiting room in chaos as if it’s completely normal. He searches the faces.

“Cassandra?” he says to the room, directing it to no one.

I stand and follow him to the door. He walks and I follow through halls full of locked doors. My heart begins to hammer against my ribs and a sense of hopelessness fills me as we trudge deeper and deeper into this labyrinth of closed doors. No natural light reaches the corridors, the mock Andy Warhol prints dotted along the walls, bold colours, child-like shapes and squiggles completely out of place on the dead, grey walls.

Like a bright red ball gown at a funeral.

Footsteps.

We reach a door, he unlocks it and we walk in.

“Take a seat,” he says.

I perch at the edge of the chair closest to the door.

Fight or flight. Fight or flight. Fight or flight.

“Please, make yourself comfortable.” he laughs, sitting back in a way that I should copy him.

“I’m fine.” I say, staring at the door.

We begin the well-trodden routine of questions and one-word answers. All I can think is that I’m sat in a room I don’t know how to get to the outside from, the man I don’t know asks me personal questions, I don’t know his name. I don’t know what I’m doing here. Or what the end point is.

“Are you ever happy?”

“No.”

“Do you have highs and lows?”

“No.”

“Do you think of harming yourself?”

“Yes.”

“Have you?”

“Yes.”

“Show me.”

“No.”

It continues. For an eternity. I keep staring at the door. My hands keep shaking.

He asks if there are any significant life events from my childhood. I look at him for the first time.

“Well?”

“It should all be in my notes.” I point at the stack of papers in front of him on the desk.

“Yes, I know, but it’s better if I can hear it in your own words.” he laughs. Again.

I shake my head and then the tears start.

“OK, you don’t have to.” he looks scared. I gaze at the door again.

I tune out while he talks about what we do next. How they’re going to fix me. Where he’s referring me to. Who’s going to call me. I don’t allow myself to listen as I’ve heard it all before. I pinch my hand to stop the tears, to concentrate on something.

“What we can do is give you an anti-psychotic to take with your anti-depressants.”

“What?”

“It should give you a high, so you’re not so low. Do you want to give them a try?”

“No.”

“… OK. So we’ll continue with what you’re on for six more weeks?”

“Yes.”

“Alright. And I’ll see you again in six weeks, I’ll send you a letter confirming the appointment.”

“OK.”

He offers his hand for me to shake and I ignore it.

Eventually we’re back in the corridor, he’s leading me to the exit, away from the locked doors.

Footsteps.

He says goodbye and I duck past him, desperate to see sunlight again. I can’t breathe.

My feet carry me through the maze of doors, the stairwells, the figures standing around.

The walls caving in, they talk to me as I dash past. Echoes of voices. Shouting. Babies crying. My lungs feel ready to explode as I reach the final door to the exit. Cold air rushes over me. Greying sunlight. The voices stop midsentence as the automatic doors close behind me.

Home

Disclaimer:  Obvs I’m not going to tell you my actual address. That’d be hugely irresponsible. Unless you want to send me cake, then by all means, I’m totally yours.

I have called twelve properties home, I’ve pinballed around Essex, to Bedfordshire, to London, and found my way back to Essex once again. Until very recently, I didn’t understand what home was. Apparently it’s not just somewhere you sleep and Blu Tack photos to the walls, where it’s OK to put your feet on the sofa and pick your nose.

Home was never safe or stable, growing up. There was always a looming threat, a red letter, someone banging on the front door, a phone ringing endlessly to no answer. I stopped going to school at the age of eleven because of my mum’s mental illness, I was terrified of leaving her alone. And I ceased to be, I hid from the world, for six years. Fear and shame. Glass bottles scattered across the carpet. Deathly silence and the curtains drawn against life outside.

I was seventeen when I left and slowly, life began and it was OK.

Suffice to say, I have zero photos from that past life.

It’s not always moody sea views and woodland adventures. More often than not, it’s doctors waiting rooms, staring at the walls surrounding my bed or watching Noah’s golden head darting away in the distance. But now I know the outside is there, and the views are only ten minutes away from my front door whenever I want to go and see them.

Home now makes sense. It’s somewhere I can feel safe as opposed to trapped. It’s alright to talk to the neighbours and there’s no faceless figure with a briefcase and a stack of paperwork threatening to take it away from me.

Home is where I can have cake for breakfast, wear Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pyjamas and have stickers covering my face, courtesy of Noah, obvs.. Home is where there’s love. Home is what I miss when I’m not there. And home is wherever he is.

Break

*sounds taboo breaking, possible stirring of not nice thoughts klaxon*

Last week, in a fit of uncharacteristic RAWR-like OGIFD;SUybrtIBS@DRHR rage, I threw my laptop. At a wall. It didn’t like it very much, if I’m honest. It’s a delicate creature. It’s all fine now. So long as I don’t breathe too heavily near it. Or move it WHAT.SO.EVER. And my K ey eeps pinging off when I use it.

Sorry. Just had to stick it back on.

So yeah. There’s that.

There’s also been the impending doom I’ve been trying so desperately to ignore for a good few weeks now. One thing said thoughtlessly, and I broke. I snapped. And the next thing I knew, my laptop lay crumpled the other side of the room.

The images, the thoughts. But not only that, the calmness that came with them. The I just don’t want to be here anymore. No drama. No tears. No I’ll show them. Just a sort of epiphany, a still realisation that that is what I had to do and there was room to maneuver, no other option. The constant, constant barrage of thoughts of hurting myself. And not being scared by it. Willing them to come, wanting to follow them and feel them, to feel something, anything. 

Being told again and again and again, what my actions would do, what the terrible knock on effects would be. What it’d do to Noah. What would happen to him. How much it’d mess him up. But somehow, those terrible things just couldn’t effect me, and I’m still struggling now, to not be so detached from them. After hours and hours of talking about it, seeing my therapist, GP, having my medication upped. I’m just too far gone to see what I’m doing. Too far along the road I’m determined to get to the end of, to see that there’s any other way.

I’ve been almost daring someone, anyone to step in, the threats of hospitalisation don’t scare me, which in itself I suppose is a bit scary. Hell, I’d stumble into one right now if someone pointed me in the right direction. My doctor letting slip that she’s only giving me a weeks worth of happy pills at a time in case I do something they like to call “stupid”. TBH, the thought hadn’t even occurred to me, and hearing her say those words, her gently gently demeanor, her I’ll see you same time next week, just bounce off me.

Ultimately, I know I won’t do anything. I want to. I really fucking want to. Sat here now I honestly don’t know how I’ll make it 3 o’clock to pick up Noah from school. I don’t know how I’ll manage to get my shoes on and push myself out of the front door. The thought of seeing other parents in the playground, having to smile through it and chat, fucking terrifies me when I can’t even bear to just be awake.

I know I love my son. I know he’s my little anchor in this turbulent mess. But fucking hell, it’s hard to see it right now, to feel it and grab it with both hands and never ever let it go.

But I am suicidal, I’m stuck in it like quick sand up to my shoulders.

I don’t want to be here.

That doesn’t make me a monster, it doesn’t mean I need sympathy, or pitying looks or tentative pats on the back or to be locked away in a sterile environment. I won’t write a note, or stockpile painkillers. I don’t need to be shouted at, to be guilt tripped or to constantly reminded that this too shall fucking pass again and again.

Listing all the reasons why I shouldn’t do what I want to do mean nothing, I’m completely cold and numb to everything, the words only strengthen the impenetrable armor I’m clinging to like a security blanket.

I understand that suicide gets people’s backs up. People don’t get it. It makes them angry. It’s a selfish act. Or it’s too painful for those that have seen it first hand. I get it, really I do. And trust me, if I actually press publish on this post, I’ll be cringing and looking through my fingers if and when I do.

I think I just needed to say the words, without being watched agog like a caged wild animal that’s about to chew off its own leg.

I know that somehow I’ll get through it. I’ll make the school run, I’ll get through to tomorrow and the next day and the week after when every single part of me is begging me to just stop. I know that, deep down I really do, but convincing that cold, disconnected part of me is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

Sabotage

*Probably not a good idea to read if you’re feeling a bit shit klaxon*

For the past while, I’ve been on a mission of discovery. Or something. My mind has been opened to other, unchartered territories for helping myself get out of this dark, ugly mess. Cutting out caffeine and sugar and other such chemicals made of evil, albeit making me utterly murderous, will eventually make me happier, apparently. Healthy eating – I came this close to buying an Abel & Cole box. Mindfulness and meditation, I bought a book, haven’t read it yet, obvs, it’s proper good for squashing gnats with however. And I went to one class where I almost gave myself a panic attack because I slipped into such a strange daze, I’d forgotten how to Inhale on one, exhale on two, inhale on three, exhale on four. Oh and exercise. Yeah. Erm. Still working on that one. Being more social, less hiding away, keeping busy, keeping busy, must keep busy.  All that with some new, hardcore happy pills and regular trips to the therapist by the cover of darkness.

I should be tap dancing around on the dining table by now, right? Or at least getting my tap shoes ready for a jolly little jig…?

Nah.

Quite the opposite. All this constant focus on being happy, being proactive and organised and oooh, let’s bake cakes! is quite frankly soul-destroying when your heart’s just not in it and all of this is just too painful to even stay awake. Rather than gaining some kind of enlightenment, some new understanding, some something, all I’ve gained is world-wide indifference.

I appear to have come to a weird realisation. And I’m not sure how else to say it, or say it in a way that makes it sound less bad. Because it is bad. I know that.

I’m struggling to care.

I don’t care.

As a result, I’m finding myself missing pills, skipping appointments, binge drinking can after can of Coke, I know, I’m a right devil, not looking after myself and generally being a big bundle of not giving a shit. Finding myself in a desperate attempt to sabotage everything I can and every last chance of happiness that I’ve been clinging on to.

And I know what happens now, it happened earlier today in fact with my mum, Well, if you don’t care about you, at least care about Noah and Rob.

Thing is though, Noah doesn’t see this. The tears are hidden, the apathy that engulfs me is reserved for when he’s not around and for the little time I see him now he’s at school, he’s simply none the wiser.

I appreciate this isn’t good. Yet I can’t stress enough that I’m unable to just flip a switch and turn my caring back up to eleven and off I trot towards the sunset. I will do anything without question for Noah, the only reason I’m sat at this table right this moment is because of Bean, and the reason I continue to fight this when I have absolutely nothing left is due to him.

But what happens when this part of me that feels so much bigger than I can ever be, this part I feel I have no control over, no say in the matter overtakes everything else? What happens when it’s more powerful than even the love I have for my little boy and anything I can use to defend myself looks laughable in comparison? What happens when the caring, the love and the fierce protection I have for my son, is dwarfed by the not caring and the apathy that I have for everything else?

What happens then?

Disclaimer

This post was going to come with a trigger warning, but then my head went on a tangent about how using the word trigger as a warning, a safe word if you will, for people who are likely to tread beyond the line of OK stuff to think about, is possibly not very well thought out.  Ya know, a word synonymous with guns and dangerous stuff. A cross on the door, do not passsuggestive stuff awaits. People who come up with names and words and meanings, try harder, this one definitely needs some work.

So… Yeah. That thing which means this isn’t suitable if you’re a in a bit of low mood. Whether it’s in the mentally ill sense or you’ve just found your washing machine pissing water all over the kitchen floor etc, maybe go to Google and type in funny cats. Or pugs. Pugs are the new funny cats, right?

Anyway, on with what actually got me out of bed to write at 2am.

I’ve been laying low on the old blog front. The social media front. The typing shit into boxes with 140 characters front, the taking photos of my breakfast / cat / dancing child front. All fronts essentially. It’s been massively, stupidly frustrating. And it’s taken me months, yes actual months to work out what the fuck is up with me. In that sense I mean obvs, I’m still not entirely sure what is generally wrong with me.

Truth is, a year ago when I started pouring out this stuff that’s been polluting my head for so long, I wasn’t speaking to anyone. The world beyond my publish button was nameless and faceless other than some edited, anonymous-ish avatars and alter egos mostly containing the word Mummy in some form or other. I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t think I ever wouldknow anyone from this so I could go about my depressive ways, spout some shit that had been clogging up the main frame and continue and no one would be any the wiser.

I was like a Banksy of blogging.

Only totally unknown. Uber skint. And I’m fairly certain that the smell of spray paint makes me vomit.

Look, that worked in my head, OK?

Fast forward a little and somehow, almost in spite of myself, I appear to have actually made some friends through this strange life I made on the internet through blind frustration and loneliness. This blog isn’t anonymous anymore, and for fear of making people worry, upsetting someone with speak of ugly depression stuff, the suicidalness and Lord knows what else I can verbally throw up when I’ve overdosed on coffee. Where I’d protect my family from this stuff, I’d run to these blank white pages to get it the fuck out, I’m now kind of in the same position again.

And yes, my head isn’t a pillar of rationality or sense. I appreciate I can be blowing this past the bounds of proportion. And there’s a huge arse positive in amongst this. I do see that. I truly do, it’s way way out of my comprehension to understand it fully, but I know it’s a good thing.

It’s akin to where you’d put on a brave face for the postman, or your neighbour, or fuck it, anyone, the glazed smile, the Oh yeah, I’m fine and the drawn breath, the time standing still as you wish, hope and pray they don’t see what you’re desperately trying to camouflage with teeth and a chirpy tone of voice.

I feel I’ve been doing that online. And if I can’t force it anymore, I’ll shrink away for a day or a week until I can force it a little bit more.

In a meandering, round the houses way, what I’m getting at is, I suppose this is a disclaimer for the stuff I need to start saying again. That I’m fine, that I won’t be putting my head in the oven – scrap that – my oven is totally broken and my head won’t fit in the toaster, I just checked,  so it’s all good seriously.

I need to drop the façade and take it back to the old skool. Or the erm, ya know, mental health unit.

Signs of a Struggle

Dear Cas,

It is I, your twenty-five year old self sent from the future to impart my wisdom. Yeah it’s all a bit confusing and awkward. I can pretend to be a fairy godmother or some mystical apparition if you prefer, maybe even don some fairy wings to make this all more visually exciting? No? Whatever. I know you’re not going to want to listen to me, you don’t listen to anyone, I know that cos I am you innit and I’m more than aware of your pain in the arse tendencies.

Just bear in mind what I say and trust me a little bit. Please.

I was going to write a long lists of dos and dont’s, ya know, since I’m all wise and shit. But other than one – PUT THE TWEEZERS DOWN WOMAN, YOUR EYEBROWS ARE NEVER GONNA GROW BACK FFS – I’m not gonna do that. I suppose it’s sort of expected of someone in this position, the Disney version of things, that when we’re in the midst of complete and utter shit, that someone will float down from up above, hold our hand and tell you everything is going to be OK, make sure you do this, avoid that bloke – he’ll mess with your head, don’t forget to do your pelvic floor exercises, eat more greens, blah blah blah.

But I can’t do that.

Yeah you still feel shit more often than not. Stuff is still hard, harder than it should be. There are times when even just existing is too much to deal with. You will wonder when you’re gonna get given a fucking break sometimes, when you can politely take your plate away, place your hand over it and say “That’s plenty, thank you.”

You’ll still withdraw like a petrified hermit crab. And you’ll continue to blame yourself for well, pretty much everything. There’ll be times when you’ll wonder whether you’ve made any progress along this dark tunnel, that maybe you’re stuck in front of a rolling background but you’re not actually getting anywhere at all.

But do you know what’s different now, mate? Now there is laughter, there is love surrounding you like you’ve never experienced before, and yes, that’ll bring its own problems obvs, nothing’s ever simple is it? You won’t know how to accept all this good stuff, you’ll think you don’t deserve it. But it is here, all over the fucking place, it’s tangible and jumping on your face at 6am on the dot every morning.

I can’t tell you how to get from where you are to where I am, or tell you the shortcuts or how to avoid the shitty bits. I won’t pretend life is gonna be all unicorns puking up rainbows and daisy chains, it’s not, it might never be, I don’t know. All I can tell you is to keep going, persevere and never stop, because what you’ll find in ten years will be worth it, it’ll be far from perfect, believe me, you’ll spend days getting shit on your face and spending hours getting silly putty out of your son’s hair and hiding behind the fridge door to cry for a moment FFS, but it’ll be real, I canpromise you that.

There is nothing wrong with you, and you are not broken. Nor is there an evil little gremlin in your head, messing with your thoughts and jangling everything around. You are how you are, you will learn to accept it as a part of you.

I know the words may mean nothing, but I hope they stay with you in some way at the back of your mind and that you trust me. It will be worth it, the scars and echos and signs of a struggle will always stay with you in the shadows but there is good stuff waiting for you, Cas.

The reason I can’t tell you how to get from A to B is because what if I were to fuck up the road? What if you missed the man you now share your name with? What if you never met? Or had your son, the tiny person that essentially saved your life and gave you an anchor? There’s simply just too many things I could mess up for you if I were to give away the surprises your future has in store, and yeah I could divert you from the pain and the ugly and the boring stuff, but what about these two beautiful people who are now you’re life? I’m sorry dude, but it isn’t worth the risk. You will make it through, you will get to where I am now with a slight sense of accomplishment to have made it out of the dark of your teenage bedroom and to make just the tiniest of imprints on the outside world when it never, ever felt possible.

You will get here Cas. I promise. And it really, truly will be worth it.

Now lose the tweezers and write a letter to Magnum demanding they make pistachio flavoured ice cream stat.

Your twenty five year old self,

Cas

x

Shame

OK, I’ll admit, I went a bit loopy yesterday morning. And when I say loopy, I mean full-blown crazy with a cheeky side order or neurosis for good measure. I forgot the health visitor was popping round to see us. Totally forgot. First thing I knew of it her car was sitting in my driveway and the doorbell was ringing, mocking me it seemed. In my infinite wisdom, of which I possess none, I darted to the living room window and shut the curtains – IN FULL VIEW OF HER. Smooth moves. Real smooth. Still cringing, I then proceeded to hide in the kitchen with Noah. FOR TWENTY MINUTES. Which I must add, once you factor in the über awkward atmosphere and my ridiculous anxiety bouncing off the walls, in reality felt like HOURS.

Once she was gone and I was satisfied she hadn’t alerted the local loony bin / social services / police and I’d checked several times that the carpet fitter’s van across the road didn’t inhabit a crack team of surveillance experts I then finally felt able to collapse with in a pool of relief / tears / self loathing.

I couldn’t answer the door. It was just a physical impossibility.

Paralysed and rooted to the spot with shame.

I’d had just about enough. I was exhausted, Noah had been up to his usual tricks of mind fuckery and hadn’t slept well at all. Rob is on some new hefty medication for his ME, which is sending him all over the place and I have to make sure he doesn’t have any adverse reactions to it. Add in the usual stresses; money, health, a general lack of any caffeine in my house, having zero energy and I snapped.

What would’ve happened if I’d answered the door?

The poor woman was just popping in quickly to say hello, so I could retake the questionnaire I did a few weeks ago, to see if I magically felt any better. She’d have been faced with me, dressed in three-day old pyjamas, hollow eyed, hair sticking up in scary peaks like a disgruntled lion, unblinking and two seconds away from bursting into tears. All while Noah is smeared with chocolate spread, wearing his pants on his head and humming “Baby Got Back”.

I would’ve crumbled as soon as her sympathetic eyes fell on me. I’d be totally powerless to put on the brave face for another moment and I’d have cried and cried and pleaded and cried.

I would’ve told her that I don’t want to be here anymore.

That I can’t do this.

That I’m not coping well at all.

That all I want to do is hide in bed and cease to be. Switch off entirely. And wake up when all this has blown over and I don’t care how long it takes.

That I cannot deal with Noah.

That I think I’m being an appalling mum.

That I shout at him too much.

That I’m crippled with guilt and worry.

That I’m just so, so tired of this.

And please, please make this stop.

I couldn’t do that though really, could I? We’re just not allowed to say those things out loud. We’re not allowed to feel those desperate, gut wrenching emotions. We’re simply not permitted to cry, or to say that we can’t cope. Not when you have children. Not when people depend on you. Not when you’re supposed to be OK now. Not when that breakdown thing a while ago was just a “little blip”.

But how much longer can this go on for? How much longer can I keep ignoring the door, or the phone or hiding those unopened letters? How can I continue to refuse to face up to this? The fear if I actually do look at it properly, recognise it and study its jagged edges, its poinsonous surface, will I be able to even pretend to function? Will it all fall apart at the seams and unravel completely?

And that’s why I couldn’t answer the door.

I couldn’t bear to face what I knew would be standing on my doorstep, which wasn’t really the kindly health visitor with the soothing voice and the sympathetic manner. It was all my shame and doubt and guilt rolled into one big clusterfuck, and I just couldn’t face it. I hid away, I sobbed and I swallowed back the gasps of air, and I sat in silence as it hammered on the door for an eternity until I could hear it drive away again.

How to Blog

  • Sit down. Think. Need an idea, need an idea.
  • Nothing.
  • Keep thinking, do some online window shopping / eat too many biscuits /  pick nose.
  • Nope. Nothing. Carry on with life.
  • Get idea. (at 4am when you seriously need to be asleep, I mean honestly, look, your kid’s gonna be awake in two hours)
  • Quickly ensure in your head that this “idea” isn’t your brain tricking you and recycling someone else’s blog post you’ve read previously and making you believe it is your own brilliance.
  • Once determined either dump stolen idea / write down original idea.
  • Find pen and paper / make note on phone.
  • Discover distinct lack of pens and paper, phone out of battery.
  • Swear.
  • Write on back of hand with eyeliner.
  • Question momentarily that taking child to nursery with “HAPPY PILLS, POEM ABOUT QUICHE, FUCKING SMUG PARENTS” scrawled up your arm may make you appear somewhat unhinged.
  • Find jumper. Deposit child.
  • Come home, quickly, very quickly tidy surface crap in house, yes, you can totally do this blogging and mum stuff.
  • Remember to never, ever open that cupboard that is now bursting with the washing up / laundry / bills / all of the above.
  • Make coffee, all writers need coffee right? Consider taking up smoking as a hobby, writers smoke too, yeah? Roll up old post it note and pretend to puff on it, really debonair.
  • Look at writing on arm for a moment. Entirely forget where the fuck you were going with “POEM ABOUT QUICHE.”
  • Realise you are hungry. Search for food. Find none. Sit down with bowl of dry, slightly stale Cheerios.
  • Think.
  • Check emails.
  • Reply to emails. Agreeing to do more blogging work, that you’ll ultimately forget about for the next two weeks.
  • Check Twitter.
  • Think of something hilarious and relatable to say.
  • Tweet about getting shit on your face this morning / the kid throwing up on the cat.
  • Watch tumbleweed roll by as your Tweet is ignored. Question whether you’re actually funny.
  • Drink more coffee.
  • Play around with different fonts on your blog.
  • Get a grip.
  • Open compose blog post thingy.
  • Stare at screen.
  • Think of 3 absolutely brilliant blog titles. Realise that you have nothing more than the titles.
  • Save each one to drafts.
  • Sigh dramatically. Have another puff on fake cigarette.
  • Look at clock. Find that you’ve somehow wasted an hour already.
  • Really stare at the screen now, you’re determined, you can do this.
  • Waste another 10 minutes trying to think of words that rhyme with quiche.
  • Scrap quiche idea.
  • Start writing about anything, you are funny, it’ll just come out naturally without you even thinking about it.
  • Realise you are not funny at all.
  • Look at photos of cats on Google to console yourself.
  • Have a little peek at blog statistics for the day, just out of interest, stats don’t matter, you don’t really care about them, you’re just curious. Find them plummeting.
  • Panic.
  • You totally have to write a post, like NOW.
  • Raid chocolate stash. Eat. Continue to eat until you feel enormously guilty and dirty.
  • Commence staring contest with empty white screen.
  • Realise you have 10 minutes before you need to leave to collect child.
  • Have a little cry.
  • Check emails.
  • Reply to emails.
  • Reluctantly put shoes on and collect bag.
  • Practice tortured artist face in mirror.
  • Wallow in self doubt.
  • Remember to disguise any evidence of chocolate binge.
  • Start walking to collect kid.
  • Find yourself attempting to be all deep and profound, making metaphors about dead flowers or road rage as you walk.
  • Swear under your breath.
  • Scare passing school children.
  • Get sucker punched with amazing idea as you’re pushing through the double doors at nursery.
  • Begin to panic that this is someone else’s blog post again.
  • Dump or keep accordingly as you’re signing the register.
  • Immediately forget idea as you’re handed accident report form and are told by the sheepish nursery lady that your kid headbutted a window, apparently attempting to squash a fly.
  • Repeat for eternity.