No plastic bags the wonky mum pain in left side of chest

In every home there is one, I found it on many nights. Sometimes I would be sat alone downstairs, others I would be in bed listening to the gentle sounds of the family sleeping. Wherever I was it was a time of contrast, the peace of the world silent around me and the burning pain in my mind where war waged. Over time I lost the light switch, the spark of hope that this would end began to dim.

When I sat in these moments I would replay the events of the previous days; throwaway comments that I could find the whispers of judgement, the look I caught being cast my way or the nagging doubt that my husband or children were really better with me there. I have a personality disorder, I didn’t know it at the time, in some ways it is a super power. I see those micro expressions without trying, I hear the upset or stress in someone’s voice and I can read the atmosphere of a room in a heartbeat.

I love deeply and will be your most loyal friend. Inside though, oh inside there is so much darkness. Darkness that sucks in my self-worth, feeds on my confidence and ensures every thought is filled with self loathing. It drives me to be the best I can be, not to improve myself, in my eyes I cannot improve. I am awful. That look, those few words from someone – that means they see me for all I am – worthless.

In the witching hour I would be consumed by this. I don’t know why I am saying this in the past tense, I still do! In those days though, no one knew. Each experience of someone betraying my trust, judging me or if I failed in some way, they fed that darkness within. Until it consumed me.

My body was broken. I had fought fibromyalgia since the birth of my son, now I also had damage to my nerves from my spinal cord down into my leg. I couldn’t run around with my children in the park, most days I couldn’t get to the park at all. My career would be destroyed and the journey to this point was filled with those telling me I couldn’t be a mother, a wife, an employee and be like this. In those moments of peace in the witching hour I contemplated the flashes I had in my recent journeys, could I step out in from of the bus that frequently hurtled past the house? No, the poor driver would never recover or any witnesses. What about those concrete pillars on the motorway? Nope, other drivers, the emergency services who would try to save me. There were the woods… The children would get my life insurance payments, my husband could move on with a woman less broken, less moody, less hard work. Maybe they would be sad for a few weeks but in all life would be better. Except I had seen the pain grieve caused just a few months beforehand… The thoughts were broken. My daughter had a nightmare, the witching hour had passed and as I wrapped her in my arms, breathing in the smell of her hair I was so so grateful for that nightmare.

A few days after this I sat, anxiously picking the skin around my nails, close to my husband, in a light green waiting area. With my physical problems I had spent a lot of time in the local hospitals, this space was different. The walls were littered with phone numbers, the doors locked, every person there wished they were invisible. We resorted to the very British past time of staring at signs to avoid eye contact. There was one sign that grabbed me,

I turned to my husband, Brad, to begin quizzing him about why this was, did it have something to do with the environment? But why was this recycling point, in a hospital, so important? Why would a psychiatric unit be so worried about something like this? Not for a second did it occur to me that this would be a hazard for someone in crisis. Perhaps just not my style. It occurred to me that if plastic bags were an issue then the crochet hook and yarn in my bag would be a huge no. Recovery began here.

Over time, while waiting for my slot in the mental health teams therapy service, I have read a lot of blogs, watched videos, researched. I have laughed and cried. My passion for all things yarn kept me sane stitch by stitch and my love, my beautiful excessively strong adoration for my husband and children – a gift from the borderline personality disorder – kept me from harm. But secretly I wanted someone to say “I am not OK, I am broken but I am still a good mum”.

Maybe my experience is a one-off but I doubt it. Mothers come in all shapes and sizes, some are like me and a little wonky on the inside. We all share the same experiences though, the highs and lows of the parenting journey, the worries and the celebrations. I just do this from a different perspective (and not just because I am sat down a lot!) the playground terrifies me because of all those people my mind has to analyse for signs of judgement, birthday parties have to be perfect because if they aren’t then I will be overcome with a sense of failure and playdates in the house are a living nightmare because the house isn’t perfect. Then there is the mum guilt, we all have mum guilt! I just add into that extra guilt because I can’t physically do all I want to or feel compelled to.

When you tell people you have a personality disorder they tend to think you are one step from having a Silence of the lambs moment. When someone sees you in a wheelchair often the first reaction is sympathy. The reality is my mental illness compels me to constantly strive to be better, my wheels allow me the opportunity to be closer to my expectations of myself. There are good days and bad days, I fill my days with yarn and try to keep the smiles there too. It is ok not to be ok, even when you are a parent.

I want you all to share in my journey as a mum with a few wonky parts. I hope perhaps this will stop someone else sitting in the darkness of the witching hour without the light switch to hand. Those pesky plastic bags can be saved for the recycling and in the meantime welcome to my world!