Today I went to a 6th birthday party. The Princess and The Pea demanded their shoes be removed before piling straight into the soft play, The Husband and I drank coffee and took the rare opportunity to actually talk to fellow parents from school, rather than shout a hasty “Hi how are you?” whilst running across the playground and delivering children to the school door 30 seconds before it closes. The birthday girl had a good time. All the children had a good time. The Husband and I had a good time.
Big deal. This happens every week. It was a soft play birthday party, not a Nobel nomination.
But actually it was a big deal to me. Exactly one year ago today, the same little girl had her 5th birthday party at the same soft play centre. I was supposed to be taking The Princess and The Pea. But instead of getting everyone ready to go, I had had enough. I felt panic and anger and hatred and self-loathing and inadequacy and exhaustion and hopelessness and uselessness and fear bubbling up inside, and suddenly it was impossible to contain and it was all spilling out in tears and screaming and throwing and shouting, and I grabbed my car keys and I went out to find a wall to drive into.
I should have been sat in an over-heated, overly-noisy play area, swapping parenting notes with other mums and dads.
But I was sat in my car, hot tears on my cheeks, desperately trying to find a road where there were no other cars, no witnesses, no potential saviours, no-one else to drag into my mess, and failing. It was a beautiful sunny and warm November Sunday. Everybody in the entire county was out on the roads. I wanted to be alone. I wanted to be alone for good. I wanted it all to just stop, the noise, the struggle, the constant internal struggle, the never-ending feeling that I was failing at everything. I wanted it all to stop.
I couldn’t find a quiet road. I couldn’t get away from other people. I couldn’t get away from one particular car, I needed him to not be following me the entire time, I just needed to be able to crash my car!
Thoughts of The Princess and The Pea flashed in my mind every few seconds. How would The Pea get to sleep without feeding and snuggling with me? I imagined him sobbing at not having any warning that he would never breastfeed again, crying for me at bedtime. I pictured The Princess growing up without a mum to confide in and ask questions to. Would The Husband be able to carry on being a brilliant dad or would he struggle?
I was parked on Sainsbury’s car park. Suicide attempt failed, I figured calling the Samaritans might put this whole day into some kind of perspective. My phone beeped at me and announced the number was unobtainable from a mobile. Seriously?? Having failed at parenting, failed at ending my own life, I was now failing at contacting the people who are supposed to be able to help me work through this??! I sat in my Ford Focus in the middle of Sainsbury’s car park on a perfect autumn Sunday and I cried. I cried for my failings, I cried for my depression, I cried for my family, I cried because I needed help, I needed to be helped and I didn’t know who or how, but I couldn’t be here and like this and thinking these thoughts and feeling these feelings any longer. I couldn’t be this person, I couldn’t be a mum, I didn’t want to be a mum, this mum, to my beautiful children, I couldn’t be the wife or sister or daughter I wanted to be. I couldn’t be here and I couldn’t not be here.
It was a long and emotionally painful struggle after that Sunday to get better. Twelve months later, I am still working on it. The medication, the counselling, The Husband, The Princess, The Pea, the family, friendships, conversations, yoga and crochet all help a lot, but it’s not easy and it’s always at the edges of my every thought that life could be so very different if events of 9th November 2014 had gone as my deranged mind had planned.
Taking The Princess and The Pea to the birthday party today, chatting to the other parents there, sitting with The Husband, and enjoying it all was a very big deal. Who knew soft play could be so important?
If you feel depressed or suicidal or you need to talk things through, please contact The Samaritans on 116 123 – this number has changed recently and should work from a mobile!