Confessions Of A Chronically ill Mum #20

It’s 2am on Saturday morning, or Friday night- whatever….and I’m wide awake. I have been to sleep but I’m having awful trouble staying there. I had a significant psychological wobble earlier this evening.
After the hype around my debut newspaper article earlier in the week, followed by genuine relief at another good day in the bag for my son (who is really struggling with separation anxiety currently) at
the childminders. This wobble knocked me for six. It shouldn’t have really, because I’m at the end of my cycle, and I know what that means….

For those of you that know about my health already, I won’t need to say much – other than PMDD got it’s claws stuck into my psyche.

I’m a paranoid, angry (fuming actually – but don’t ask me why) tearful, mess of a woman, whom also told the car insurance telephone handler earlier in the day to get a new job because he had the intelligence of a
gnat. Who even am I?

I have felt physically terrified for no
reason. I wanted to lash out at other parents for breathing next to me at the harvest festival. The sound of my kids’ talking and playing made my skin hurt. Don’t even get me started on what Kaiser’s screaming is doing to my blood pressure. I have a mouth full of ulcers, limbs made of lead, period pain that feels like labour, and can’t stop itching – oh and eating!!! And all of that is ‘just’ menstrual – not to mention sitting or standing for more than 5 minutes at a time leaves me in agony, getting in and out of the car and lifting my son makes me want to cry. To add insult to injury, everything I do to relax fails, every book I attempt to read feels like
the words are sliding off the pages and flying the fuck away from me. I just can’t process life at all!

“Stop the waltzers! I prefer the certainty of a prize that comes with hook a duck”

There are so many points I want to make with this blog post. The main one is, these things, this trauma and constant carousel of feelings that come with chronic illness, don’t ever really go away. No matter how long you’ve lived with something, no matter how great the good days are, there’s a lingering trepidation of when the lights might go out again and how long it will take until, or even whether or not they’ll eventually come back on. Of course the evidence suggests they will [the lights] come back on, but it’s hard to believe when you’re run down and in pain.

It’s Saturday lunchtime now and I’m waiting patiently to be seen in rheumatology again. The combination of the constant diarising of appointments, childcare and HRT, is making me forgetful. I’m struggling to keep up with my physical therapy exercises, which I know is only going to exacerbate my pain in the long run, but that’s really the point I’m trying to make in response to all the ableist propaganda circulating at the moment – having a chronic illness is a full time job and when all of your time isn’t being taken up trying to feel better, you’re planning damage limitation for the next time you might feel shit. All of this of course on top of parenting, being a wife, friend, working part time in a regular job and so on. It’s not easy, it’s definitely not fun.

It’s Monday and Kaiser has had another awful day at the childminder’s house resulting in me in tears the same time as he was, with less than a mile in distance between. Shaun had to leave work to collect him in the end. It’s unfortunate that this coincides with the week I’d usually be on my period – which means the rage and anxiety and general feelings of overwhelm are taking hold. I’m again anticipating what the fuck I’m going to do if I have to seek alternative care for a baby that is already so anxious in the face of change. Or god forbid I have to leave my job to care for him full time when I’m barely surviving caring for myself.

Bedtime now and yet nobody sleeps. Shaun tiptoes around the house on his size tens and Ciara is up and down like a yo-yo with various complaints of insomnia. Kaiser will be awake in a minute, desperate for a cuddle.

I love being a mum but I struggle with it so much. Every month I wonder how I’ll survive and what the future looks like if and when I eventually lose my shit all together. Somehow we make it though, we adapt and make allowances and exceptions.

People say I don’t know how you do it and my reply is always I don’t have a choice. But that’s not the only suitable response: another appropriate one would be I don’t do it, we do it. Together! Because without them, there’d be no me. Forever grateful to be lucky enough to have created this wonderful family even with all of our flaws, challenges and trials combined.

Rejection

Rejection.

I’ve never taken it well. From my father to boyfriends, one night stands, friends to colleagues, interviews and talent shows. I don’t even like the word –

R E J E C T I O N – ugly isn’t it?

As an adult you really do have to accept it to a certain degree, applying for jobs and not getting them, trying to get your writing published and getting turned down, it’s all par for the course on that journey we call life. However that, for me, doesn’t make it any easier to handle. I find rejection a real personal slight and I internalise it in every which way possible.

I applied for a job last week that I had convinced myself was the only job I wanted and needed despite it being a draining drive all the way there.

When they emailed me, yes emailed because in business these days people seldom call you to tell you when they don’t want you – when they emailed me to say I had most of what they were looking for but lacked knowledge in a specific area, I was gutted. They then proceeded to say they were putting the job back out for advert. So, go figure, I have almost all the desired skills but rather than train me on the few I’m lacking you’ll just keep hoping the better person will come along. Thanks hun.

They may as well of just said ‘No thanks, you’re not good enough’ – Ok I’m being a bit melodramatic, but seriously I find that kind of recruitment so unconventional. Whenever I’ve interviewed people before of course they are judged on their skill set and have to tick boxes, but I also get a feel for them as people and their desire for the job in question.

Do they want it?

To add insult to injury one of the articles I’d written for a magazine was also declined. It was about taking antidepressants whilst pregnant, a really relevant topic with the mental health crisis being as it is, and maternal mental health being still such a taboo. I’d edited it to a standard of polished finery, it was good.

And their reason for not publishing it, it didn’t set the tone they were after. Which is weird considering they asked for honesty, real life, feminist type topics. Everything my article contained.

I often think my style is an acquired taste because I do write with an honesty that can sometimes be construed as offensive although that’s never the intent.

I have to defend myself here and speak up though, because I know I have a niche and I want to be heard. I know my writing resonates with hundreds of women. That’s not being arrogant, it’s ok to be good at stuff you know!! I love words and I feel I use them well. I use my voice to speak up about parenting, chronic illness and mental health and I know that all this rejection I’m receiving is ammo for a new article – queue this post. However, I can also write reports, stories poems and so on, so I think I really do have to learn to accept rejection, learn from it, and keep plugging away.

People will tell you you’re not good enough, but what they really mean is they have an idea of what they want and you’re not it. The secret is to try and see past the rejection and use it to prove them wrong. But I have never really been very good at secrets and I can’t help but feel like I’m failing. I feel like I need validating, as if that will prove my worth.

But even after this, off I went, geared up applying for more jobs, saw another I knew I could do and wanted – pay wasn’t amazing but right now it’s about ticking over whilst I write, rather than making my fortune. Filled out the application, again to a standard of polished finery and got to the bit where they ask if you have any criminal convictions. I do, and whilst now spent, this role included providing details of even spent convictions. So I wrote down my 2 convictions and 2 cautions.

All from a time long ago, when I was at rock bottom and a bit of a reprobate. Also all pre my life with Shaun and Ciara.

I filled out the form anyway – nothing to lose, and I’m sad to say I’ve not had even an acknowledgement.

So how, I ask are we supposed to rehabilitate? I’m not defending myself, I know I was a knob and did some stupid shit age 22/23 like kicking off in the street and breaching the peace, my worst crime was driving drunk. Something I will never forgive myself for as I know the damage that could of caused endangering others. I’m so sorry for that, and thankful I didn’t hurt anyone. It’s something I have paid the price for though, I can assure you and something I’d never do again. Ever!

I didn’t commit fraud or burglary, I didn’t bring harm to people or get involved in hate crime. I just didn’t know when to hold it down and my decision making was erratic. They were all, (accept one when I was 13) offences committed whilst under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both.

You often see these amazing inspirational stories of people turning their lives around and that’s me, I did that too, but I’m not always being given a chance to prove it. We had Ant back on our tv’s after doing the same thing and we still love him. He made a mistake but he’s not a bad person. He didn’t have to deal with job rejection when being honest about what he went through. I understand some roles don’t fit if you are potentially at risk of reoffending especially, crimes involving children and the elderly. We have to protect people’s welfare first and foremost but we also sometimes have to take a leap of faith. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes and take a chance. I’ve not just done bad things in my life, I’ve done some amazing things too. I’ve raised over £10,000 for charities, been a good friend, a good mum, kind… there is always more to people than meets the eye if you’re willing to educate yourself.

Being rejected is something I wonder if I’ll ever be able to cope with but I am determined to keep trying, I’ve turned my life around and I want to show my little girl that her mummy never gave up when trying to be a better person than she was the day before.