I hope you’re doing okay as we plough through this strange time.
It’s a weird time for a significant day in our lives, whether they’re happy or sad ones, because we’ll be marking them differently.
Most years on mum’s anniversary/birthday I’ll be with one of my brothers (the other lives abroad) and we’ll go to the grounds where she is, which are beautiful this time of year, with bursting colours of flowers, trees and plants blossoming on route to her spot.
Then we’d have lunch together at an old family favourite nearby…
Today, we’ll be attempting something of the sort like that on video call!
I currently feel okay with that. I’m on annual leave with my husband, we booked the rest of the week off work to have a break and to be together on this day.
Kubbie woke me up at 5am but I can’t not love that right now. The feelings of gentle movement swaying inside, reminding me that they are there. They are safe. I am carrying them.
This is what makes this years anniversary different to others. I’m pregnant. In a pandemic. This, and the fact that this year mum’s ani falls during #maternalmentalhealthweek something coordinated by an incredible campaigner who forms part of the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership.
The theme today is #accessingsafesupport fitting for the lack of (either provision or access to) imagined surrounding a death by suicide like for my mum. Yet we’ll never know. Never fully understand or get that closure.
Naturally, becoming a mum, aside yearning for mum to be part of this process, I’m beginning to think of her and our similarities. Let’s not forget she was a person before the suicide. To me, she was an amazing mum. I felt extremely loved growing up. So in that respect, I hope I’m like her. If it’s anything like how I feel now for my seed inside my stomach, I think I’ll be alright.
On the other hand, I can’t deny the more worrying similarities. The repeat episodes and experiences of depression. I can’t say I ever remembered witnessing this in her. I may have been too young. Too blinded. Too cooped up in my imaginary world I often went to, or in my own struggle of acceptance of her new (and ending of) relationship before she died. Something a lot of children and teenagers may experience.
Last week was horrible. Whilst the majority of my pregnancy has been great, I felt like I’d been transported back to the day, the week, we found out about Kubbie’s diagnosis. Things weren’t shifting for me.
Yes, in true Abbie style I was able to put on a smile for the odd personal or work video call and keep my humour but deep down I knew things were slipping. That’s why this theme, ‘Accessing Safe Support’ on this day, is SO important, and timely.
Now as someone who works in the field of support, especially peer support, I’m usually well equipped to sort out my own. Providing I haven’t slipped too far back. Last week caught me. I was too deep in that hole and I realised I didn’t even have the energy for self care, even basic, self care. Which is why some of the messaging around self care is not always helpful. I love a self care Sunday hashtag and bath as much as the next person but when you’re in the depths of the mud it won’t necessarily help.
After hitting a horrid low I managed to message a few people to let them know. The problem with this time is that whilst my husband is super at supporting me, he is the only one physically around as I am limited to who I can see. Which means my usual support systems are limited.
Writing the messages reaching out was hard. Harder than usual. We always tell people to reach out but again, when you hit that deep low, it’s not always easy, or you won’t always catch it in time to nip it in the bud. Yet it came with a relief. I’d done it.
This morning, up at 5am, I began writing down all the maternal support services I have access to and my specialist care for Kubs to stick up on the fridge for when I need them in clear view. I’m privilidged, and yes it is a privilege, to have the knowledge on today’s theme #accessingsafesupport for myself and to signpost others to – it’s my daily, working life. Yet not everyone has this information, and that, that is why today, and this week, (but really, 365days a year) is so important.
So with that in mind. I’d like to draw particular attention to myth no.4 highlighted this week by NCT.
A myth I believe is why many don’t reach out. The fear. The stigma. The terror in the thought that this myth may be true. That it could stop people from accessing safe support that they need and could use to recover, because yes, recovery is possible.
I will do my best to be as honest as I have been throughout this blog in my maternal mental health and motherhood journey. To show that things get better and that if we are able to name them (through writing / verbally / however…) we can get help and this is nothing to be ashamed of. It doesn’t mean this is easy for me to do. Usually, before every blog, I contemplate not pressing publish. Some are still in my drafts. Some deleted. These ones still helped me though. Put ‘pen to paper’ (finger to button!). But I know there are people it helps, including me.
So in dedication to the day mum left earth, please think before you judge, and meet others struggling where they’re at, be it with compassion, sensitivity, sincerity, humour, and/or so on and so on – however that person needs that you are able to do. And if it’s you that’s struggling. I see you. Your feelings and thoughts matter and there is safe support now more than ever you can access.
I’ll leave you with the mother of all blogs that will help with this by Eve Canavan BEM – it’s a long but worthy read with excellent signposting where you will see, you will see that now, you can access safe support. Something I wander that if mum did, would she still be here?