The truth is out there.

I didn't start writing this blog with any intention of holding back. As far as I was concerned, I needed to be completely transparent - people need to know the truth of mental illness and the pain it can put whole families through whilst being largely ignored by the powers that be. I've written things I could never admit in conversation, even with therapists and my best friends. Some of those things I had to write down to even admit to myself. And yet there are still things I hesitate to write down, because once I do, they're out there. They exist and I can't take them back. 

To write down some of what I'm about to, hurts. It hurts more than I can adequately express here, in any words. I'm ashamed of it, truly. It makes me want to hurt myself again, but it's also the very reason I won't. 

I chose motherhood, through a fog of uneasy decisions, IVF hormones and fighting my fears, and I carried my baby son for 9 months, knowing nothing except how much I wanted to meet him - but I had to not think about the reality of what was happening to me, because it was too terrifying. My body had changed from something I had complete control over, to something that was merely a vessel for another, far more worthy being than I. Even before I was pregnant I had deliberately gained weight to make conception more likely. I will never know if my disordered eating caused my infertility, but I stopped taking diet pills, I weaned myself off codeine and I knuckled down to be the best vessel I could possibly be. For a while this newfound 'freedom' around food felt good - I had a reason NOT to mentally tally up my calories for the day, and it felt almost bearable at least. 

I also had other even more engulfing feelings. These were the ones that I'd known were coming - I could see them forming into intangible shapes on the horizon years before - I knew this experience would illicit a thing so smothering even though I had no concept of what it would be. There are thousands of pieces of writing out there that discuss the nature and nurture of procreation, the twists and turns of a million pregnancies both typical and non, and the rocky road through the early years of accidental successes and unplanned malady of mind. Perhaps fewer choose to focus on the inner dialogue that both demands that you have a child because you'll leave nothing else behind in the world, yet tortures you with visions of another life like yours. The torture begins as soon as you understand that you're not like other people. When you become aware that the only common denominator in all these failed relationships (and those of the people around you), is you. How abusive would it be to knowingly pass on those bad genes to someone you will then love so much?

As soon as he was born, my mental health nosedived spectacularly. It marred those first few months that nobody is honest about anyway with black moods and dissociation. I contemplated suicide but I never told a soul because I was truly frightened that if anyone realised I wasn't meant to be a parent, they'd take my baby away. I've never found it very difficult to talk about my experiences, but when the second - and last - health visitor who came to the house asked me how my mood was, saying she'd 'seen my history' in my records, I just smiled and said: "Oh no - that was all years ago! I'm fine now". I even did it in a sing-songy voice, just to fully throw her off the scent.

Therapy just made it worse; we peeled the scab off and underneath, the tissue hadn't healed properly so it just ripped away the protective layer and reopened the wound. Then I had DBT, which I've talked about before, and it was like how it felt to be on ecstacy for the first time - a raw and emotional awakening - suddenly I had something to balance the melancholy.

My son is a lefty. He has the last remaining gene for limb preference passed from my mother into the grandson she never met, and as melodramatic as that is, it just matters to me. Of all the triggers of memories that will be enshrouded (in secret, because of course that was eleven years ago now and I shouldn't still hurt the way I do) in pain - and that prickly feeling you get in your face when you're flashing back through the memories of that day in a split second - this one is the most left of field. 

She wasn't your average lefty; she resisted the attempts of intolerant teachers to force her to use her non-dominant hand just because - well, conformity? - and she could even use 'normal' scissors, such was her determination to succeed. That particular genome gift is one that I got in spades, luckily. I live in my own special little (big) universe of course where difference is very, very cool. Here, you don't even get past the front door unless you're broken in some way. If nothing marks you out as unique, then I'm just not interested. Waifs and strays of the world, I feel you.

I know I felt many, many moments of joy during that time. But I didn't know what joy felt like so I didn't know how to feel it. 'Joy' comes out of parts of the brain that need to be regulated in order to work in the way they're supposed to, and for me that part is itself malfunctioning. It needs to be trained and medicated so that I can escape what had become a dragging undercurrent of anxiety. But so what if I need to take medication in order to enjoy these moments? I can now recognise joy, and better still feel joy, and I really like it. 


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