School summer holidays are fast approaching here and whilst I absolutely love having my big girl at home with us, the break brings with it different challenges in my battle with depression.
Throughout the school year the routine of early mornings, making packed lunches, school runs and homework feels endless and mundane but there is routine and structure to the day. I am forced into getting out of bed, I know how the day will pan out, I know when bedtime will be and I know that if I don’t feel great that during school hours when my eldest is out of the house, I don’t have to force a smile or go anywhere if I really don’t want to.
School summer holidays are different, routine goes out the window and each day is unique. My eldest is at home with us all day so Mummy must be happy. As a family we don’t go away in the heat of summer to avoid not only the sun but the quantity of people, so we usually take each day as it comes and sometimes we venture out and other times my eldest is happy just playing in the garden with the Husband.
In the past this has been OK, but I noticed especially last year that my depression became really intense over the summer and perhaps as much as I would rather not, I need to have plans to fill the days. Sitting around encourages my demons to shout that little bit louder and whilst I think doing nothing would be a welcome break from busy term time life, I actually find it does more harm than good. I would love to sit with a cuppa and enjoy the peace and quiet for a little bit, but that’s just it… there never is any peace and quiet in my head.
So I talked with the Husband and we agreed things needed to be different this year to try and keep things moving in a positive, upwards direction. Having isolated myself and therefore indirectly my girls for so long, we thought it time we asked friends back into our lives. If we made plans to see friends, not only would it give purpose to the days, but it would mean getting out of the house and our eldest would have different children to play with so she would be happy and occupied. In theory it sounded just what I needed.
As I sit here now looking at the diary, I can feel the panic rising in my throat, my stomach is in knots and my head is screaming at me to cancel all the meet ups we’ve arranged. It really is taking every bit of will power I have not to send texts right this minute saying I can’t do it. It doesn’t feel safe, I want to stay at home with my little family and not let anyone near. This is exactly what I hate about this illness, the irrational fear is overwhelming and our first get together isn’t even for another 10 days.
We’ve not made plans to see masses of people, just a small handful of friends who I have known for many years. People who have supported us both through all the drama that has come along with our little lady, and who have helped as much as they can when I’ve needed someone to talk to about my darkness. I genuinely care deeply for each one. Having a disabled child means you lose an awful lot of people from your life for all sorts of reasons, throw in the demons of depression too and those that remain are true friends. I honestly cannot explain why I am so scared of seeing anyone, why my heart races and I feel sick at just the thought.
My Facebook timeline is full of everyone looking forward excitedly to the 6 week break, time with their families and holidays. I would give absolutely anything to be able to feel that joy, to see it as a relaxing and fun time ahead, to eagerly anticipate the endless days of sunshine and family fun.
Instead I am truthfully scared. I need to keep my happy Mummy face on constantly for several hours every day. The effort it is going to take me to keep to the arrangements we have made is going to be immense. However, I do still believe that the only way to silence the demons is to do the exact opposite of what they are telling me to, no matter how hard. By filling the diary with activities, I am doing what I can to have structure to my days, to have a reason to get out of bed and dressed, and that has to be a good thing.
Friends tell me it’s ok if I cancel our plans but in doing so I would be giving into the darkness and allowing it to continue to control my life. I have to fight back and I have to force myself to do things that frighten me.
It’s going to be a long, hard summer but as the saying goes – “kill or cure”.
Hopefully I’ll see you on the other side.
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