I am ill again! I have worked out that since October – and the separation – I have been ill each month: cold, Tonsillitis, sickness and diarrhea, cold and eye infection and then, this week, I have had flu. Proper flu. The flu that knocks you out for three days with a temperature, aches and pains, shivers headache and cough. You get the picture.
I think I have read somewhere that stressed people are more likely to catch an illness. Talking of which, in amongst my lying in bed sweating, coughing and shivering, I had my 30 minute mental health telephone consultation.
It was hard. The girl (I say girl as she sounded so young) was very calm and patient but there were lots and lots of questions. I don’t know whether it was because I was too ill to think about it but I found myself answering almost automatically, before my head had a real chance to think about it. I was surprised by some of my answers – does that make sense? She asked me what I hoped to get out of their support program. I said “to not feel like a failure”. It just rolled off my tongue. I went on to say that I wanted to deal with things better the way I used to, and to feel strong and less anxious like I was before. I don’t think I realised that I felt like that.
I was offered ‘step 2’ of their support and was given a choice of three options: an online course which I can access anytime for upto a year which a counsellor/therapist will check fortnightly; a stress management course which is lecture style but given as a group; or a six session block of 1-2-1 cognitive therapy. I wanted the third option-I want someone to talk to. I was told that there is a twenty week waiting time. Somehow, I ended up agreeing to try option 2. As soon as I put the phone down I had a panic attack. Although the content of the course seems ideal, I don’t fancy sitting with a group of strangers feeling even more like a failure for needing a stress management course. It’s strange: I was once congratulated for being able to manage difficult situations calmly and productively. Now I have been offered a course to teach me how to deal with stress. All participants are advised not to share during these sessions but to listen to each lecture and implement the strategies.
But I want to talk. I want to talk out this mass of negativity, anxiety and stress that has taken over my chest and solar plexus, and that sometimes seems to swell and pulsate so that I can’t think straight and I can’t breathe.
I also know that I can’t wait twenty weeks. So I agreed to try option two but I am still not sure it is right. I have got a month before it starts so I have time to think about it. Maybe with more time my meds it will be the right way to move forward.
With being bed ridden again, I have had to ask their dad to help. Which he did with out complaint. Things are still rocky though. He won’t commit to a regular routine of visits which is confusing for all of us. He arrives at the house with his perma-scowl and there is an instant atmosphere. Today when I picked up our youngest from my mother-in-law’s, she told me that she had put him in the pair of underwear she has washed the day before so “he’s got underwear on now”.
My flu-fuzzled brain didn’t compute what had been said until I was back in the passenger seat of my auntie’s car. As I thought back, I half remembered him asking if there were any clean pants anywhere whilst I lay in bed feeling like I was on a bed of hot nails with a hammer doing a good job on my head. I recall telling him to check the drawers or the clean washing basket – I hadn’t done anything other than sleep and swallow tablets so putting away washing was at the bottom of my list.
For the rest of the car journey I turned this over in my head, the ball of anxiety in my chest, flexing and stretching. They obviously think I am not looking after him properly because he couldn’t find any pants. They’re judging me. I’m a bad mum. Being ill is no excuse…. But I am not that behind on the washing, only two days. I can’t believe that I haven’t washed any. I’m such a failure, can’t even keep the kids in clean clothes…
And so on. Until I got home and opened my son’s drawer and found five clean pairs. Five. And do you know what the response was to this information when I text him? “OK”.
OK? OK! Really?
I don’t know what was said between my mother-in-law and him. In my anxiety and paranoia I can only assume the worse. I know my m-i-l enough to know that was a snide remark but it doesn’t follow that what he said to her was likewise.
We have moved on to the next stage in our separation. We have done the sad, the pleading and the angry. We are moving on to the bitter now. I said in my first post that I was not here to criticise my husband and as far as I recall I have not gone into detail about how or why we split. I, no doubt, have my fair share of the blame in all of this. What I have learned is no matter how seemingly amicably you split, separation is difficult and painful and stressful. Because, what I have not mentioned before, is that this is not the first time we have separated. We’ve been here before. And there is a part of me that believes that this is where the anxiety and the feeling of failure come from. But that’s another story.