I truly believe that, to take care of your family, you must look after yourself first. But, for me, it has always been, and will always be, family first.
If only it were that easy
4 weeks ago I was diagnosed with Pleural Effusion. This came about because I had ignored a cough for about 4 months. Not deliberately but other things always seemed to be more important. It has some pretty scary causes but one, at least, has been eliminated. I was offered an early mammogram and I am pleased to say that the results came back all clear.
I’m already undergoing cardiology investigations for another reason. This is quite a relief as it will hopefully eliminate another, rather nasty, cause.
Today I was supposed to go for a chest x-ray to see if it’s cleared up. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.
Putting my family first
Yesterday, late evening, my daughter returned home from a school trip to Europe. As I write this, she’s still in bed catching up on some sleep. It’s the end of the school year and she’s exhausted. I know that she’d be happy to stay there while I went to the hospital as I wouldn’t be long but, it’s not that easy.
My son has Autism with Demand Avoidance Traits. He has an anxiety driven need to be in control. He has an intense fear of hospitals and so does not want to go with me but, he is unable to remain at home without me.
This is not the first time that I have become ill because of putting my family first. I think that all special needs mums, and mums in general, will be able to relate to this dilemma.
Let me explain
Soon after the twins were born, I developed a cough. Nothing too serious, but a cough none the less. However, L wasn’t well. She got readmitted to hospital with bronchiolitis. It was a scary time and so, as many mums will understand, I ignored my own symptoms. L recovered and then R went down with it only, this time, we understood a lot more about what was happening and so, it was agreed that we would look after him at home.
All the time, however, my cough was getting worse. By the time that my kids were better and given the all clear, I’d been ignoring my cough for quite a while. I suddenly became aware of just how ill I felt. By the time that I actually managed to get myself to the doctors, I had a rather serious case of pleurisy. The pain was unreal! Two courses of antibiotics and a lot of time later, I was left with scars on my lungs.
You’d think I’d have learnt from that rather nasty lesson.
If only it were that easy.
A few years later, when the twins were little more than toddlers, again, I ignored a cough. This time however, I didn’t leave it quite so long. Again, I had pleurisy! Luckily, it wasn’t such a bad case but I felt pretty awful!
You’d have thought that I’d have learnt by now wouldn’t you.
But, it’s just not that easy.
We’ve been going through a lot of challenges as a family over the last few years and, the last year, has been particularly difficult. During this time, I’ve kind of lost sight of myself – that’s the only way that I can really describe it. My overriding thoughts are of doing my best for my kids and, during this, yet again, I’ve ignored myself.
My drive to do things for myself seems to have been swallowed up by the challenges of being a special needs mum. I’m full of doubts and dark thoughts. My family has been there through thick and thin but, I feel guilty, guilty that I miss my friends, guilty that I miss myself.
As I sit here writing this, I’m wondering if my chest is better because I really need to get my hip fixed. I took my son out for the day and spent the whole time feeling guilty that I couldn’t play with him on the climbing frames, that I couldn’t run around with him, that I couldn’t bounce on the bouncy pillows with him. Most of all, I feel guilty for wishing that I could spend some time thinking about myself. I feel guilty for wanting to be selfish.
The pitfalls of social media
I’m constantly bombarded by pictures on social media of happy families that have popped to the beach for the day, that are playing in the park. Couples that have gone out, as a couple, for an evening. You know what? I feel resentment and I hate myself for it.
I love my family with all my heart and I’d do absolutely anything for them so why can’t I do this one simple thing? Why can’t I look after myself properly?
Because it’s just not that simple that’s why.
This wasn’t the post that I was planning on publishing this week but, I just had to get these thoughts out of my head. Everyone needs a way to make sense of things and this is mine.
I know that certain people are probably going to find this post difficult to read but, I feel that people need to be more open. We hide our feelings away, we bottle them up and, you know what? That’s not taking care of yourself.
I hope that this post has struck a chord with some of you. These feelings show that we are human. We do not need to feel guilty about them, by accepting them, we are acknowledging them. This is the first step in helping ourselves to become stronger.
There is way too much stigma attached to mental health. The only way to help is to be honest and open.
My name is Lyn and I’m a special needs mum and I’m suffering from depression and anxiety.
If this post helps just one person to feel better about themselves then I consider myself blessed.
Until next time, stay strong and remember, you are amazing.