I became a Mummy in 2000, when I was 24. I am a Mummy to a son, my little boy, who will be 13 at the end of November, can’t believe I will have a teenager, where have all those years gone? Most of the best days of my life have been parenting my little boy, everyday he makes me proud, makes me smile, and is everything a Mummy could ever want in a little boy.
When you are pregnant you always expect that you will have the perfect pregnancy and birth. You hear about everything you will go through at antenatal classes. What they neglect to tell you is everything that can and do go wrong! My son was born at 1.00pm on the 30th November, 2000 after a c-section. My son was 9lbs 12oz, and 53cms long- yes he was big! Well a short time after his birth I started to haemorrhage , which resulted in me losing nearly 5 litres of blood, going into surgery, and nearly dying before I had a chance to hold my baby. The pain was horrific, I don’t remember the first 48 hours of my son’s life, and I was in ICU for a week before I could hold my baby, and start to be his Mummy. The pregnancy books, the antenatal classes, and the doctors never tell you that these things were likely. It was hardly the start to motherhood I had dreamed of.
It took me months to recover from this physical trauma, I say physical because I look back now and see the signs that I was depressed, and most likely going through post traumatic stress disorder. I remember the day we brought my baby boy home from the hospital, I was sore, could barely walk, and need my now ex-husband to do most physical things for me, I asked him to do something for me, and he started throwing things across the room at me. From that point on, despite the pain in my stomach, the sickness from losing so much blood, as well as the normal things you get when you have a newborn, I never asked him to do anything to help me with the baby again. After all, a woman and a mother traditionally do these tasks without question, it’s not the man’s responsibility.
I loved my baby boy, like any Mummy does, while I struggled physically because of the complications, I did everything I could for him. I didn’t realise it then or years later how I was mentally, and how all the pain, exhaustion, and sadness I was going through was not from being a new Mum, but being a Mum living with depression. Unfortunately being a Mummy was then, and has been overshadowed by a Black Dog, a thick fog, a maze with no exits, more ill health than being healthy, and a deep depression that has taken over my life. Most people think that having a dog in their lives is a natural thing, that brings joy, and friendship, but for the depressive the infiltration of a Black Dog in their life is not a memory but a nightmare that you can’t wake up from.
Even though every day my little boy brings a smile to my face, and joy to my life, I still felt like something was wrong, everything felt incredibly hard, it wasn’t normal, and I can honestly say I struggled to be a happy Mum. I still do!
In 2004, I was ‘officially’ diagnosed with depression. They say that depression is usually triggered by a number of stressors in one’s life. I suppose I can tick them off – a hard, abusive, neglected childhood emotionally, a cheating and abusive husband, a traumatic child birth, and being a single Mum – were enough to be the eventual triggers that tipped me over the edge with depression.
Living with depression while being a single Mum has been extremely hard, I was alone more than ever in my life. My Mother didn’t believe that divorce/separation wasn’t justifiable despite the circumstances. My ex-husband believed that because I had depression I wasn’t suitable to my little boy’s Mum, and I shouldn’t have any care of him. My family and friends walked away because being around a depressive was something they didn’t want to do, and if they were friends while I was married they didn’t want to take sides so it was easier not to be around. I tried to maintain some normality by working full time, but even that was a struggle every day because just coping with the depression was exhausting without adding being a single Mum to the mix.
I found that the only conversations I had with people were all about my little boy, his achievements, his mannerisms, how I felt about him. People started to get bored and tired of hearing how perfect my little boy was, so they stopped inviting me around, stopped wanting to catch up for coffee or play dates, and I found myself very alone with a small boy. I didn’t know whether it was because I had no conversations other than those about my little boy, or whether it was because I was depressed all the time. I felt so incredibly guilty for what my little boy was forced to experience because I was failing dramatically at being a single Mum. Even getting government support for what I was entitled to was a struggle to deal with, everything was way to hard, and so many times I was so close to giving up, but my little boys face, his personality, what he brought to my every day, were the things that kept me believing, kept me hoping, kept me alive.
I look back now over everything that has happened, how I have struggled through every day, and I wonder how I got to where I am today. My little boy is rapidly growing into a teenager, achieving more than I ever dreamed someone could accomplish, he is the nicest kid you could meet, and he is just my little boy. He has given me everything to live through each day, to keep fighting my way through the fog, to battle through the maze to find the exits, to find on that map, and travel down that road to recovery. But depression a lot of the time overshadows these positives, clouds your judgement, is interrupted by a vicious Black Dog, and at times get to the point where you become so sick that you can’t be a Mum. It is these times that I feel such immense guilt for what my little boy has missed out on because I have not been able to get out of bed, I have been crying uncontrollably that he has been the one to comfort me, he has been forced to be at his Dad’s for weeks on end while I have been in hospital, he has seen me in emotional states that nobody deserves to see, and I feel devastated, guilty, emotions that I can’t put into words, because my little boy has been without a full time Mummy, he has seen me too sad to function when nobody no matter how old should see, I just haven’t been the Mummy I should have been.
To my little boy, I am truly sorry that depression has taken control of our life, and you have gone without what a little boy should have without any question, I will never forgive myself for what I have put you through, even though you have shown levels of maturity beyond your years, its been unfair, and I have failed you as your Mummy. Now that I am on a road to recovery, hopefully more ups than downs from now on, I hope I can make up for the time that I have been too sick to be there for you. You are my life, you are my heart beat, you are my smile, you are my everything, and no matter what, I will always be in your heart as your Mummy……
Parts of my storey are very confronting and some may find upsetting, if you find yourself upset and depressed I encourage you to ring Lifeline on 13 11 14 or BeyondBlue on 1300 224636.