Trigger warning ⚠️ contains references to suicidal ideation. Severe mental health health and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.
We’re supposed to be going out. I don’t really feel like it, actually that’s an understatement, I don’t feel at all like it. I’m trying to put on a brave face for them. It’s futile. I’m waiting for him to get our youngest child dressed but it feels slow, as though he’s not doing it fast enough, on purpose, maybe to annoy me. So the tears prick the back of my eyes and before I know it, I’m shaking with sobs. I used to shout at times of frustration, ask him what the fuck he’s playing at, but this new level of suppression required to stop me exploding in front of my kids, often leads to tears instead. Deep down I know this is irrational behaviour. I even say aloud “I’m sorry, I don’t know why I’m like this.” But they’re just words aren’t they? I’m still like it.
It’s not his fault, and it’s certainly not the children’s fault. Some would argue it isn’t even my fault, because Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder is physiological. It’s not a behavioural choice. I don’t choose to want to run the-fuck-away or open the flood gates to save myself from screaming the house down every-time I feel overwhelmed.
Some would also argue that there lies the choice. But there’s a stigma attached to a woman’s reproductive system that fuels societal norms and tells me I should be able to control this. I wish people didn’t really believe that. Sadly, many do.
I can feel my senses screaming, the hair on my scalp feels sore, the streams of noise I can hear, the kids to-ing and fro-ing around the house, collectively chattering, the sound of toys clattering and zips being pulled on coats, all feels as though it’s taking place inside of my head. The sounds are amplified and terrifying, because it doesn’t feel normal. I wonder if maybe I’ve finally reached a level of mentally ill that is beyond reparation. But even if that was true, what would I do?
I think about suicide and the perfect ideal of disappearing into an anonymous abyss. I think about not blowing up my life on a two week roster. I think about it against my will. I think about not disappointing more of my loved ones. I think about it, but I can’t do anything with the thoughts, because doing so would harm them irreparably too, and then I wouldn’t even be here to say I’m sorry. And I am sorry. I’m so sorry they have to put up with this. With me.
Of course I’m sick of walking on eggshells. I know she’s going to kick off in a minute and it’ll be my fault. It’s always my fault. The octaves are increasing and I can sense her anguish. I’m frustrated, yes. Who wouldn’t be. I’m frustrated with the situation. It’s definitely gotten worse since the second pregnancy, and the birth of our son. Or maybe I was just more able to tolerate it before we had two kids. Having children makes the situation harder. I’m running around back and forth trying to get the kids ready and make sure she’s ok. I can’t do everything. I know she’s spoiling for a row. I can feel her distress and it’s grating, because it’s really tough not to take it personally. I know she doesn’t mean it. I know she’s hurting. I don’t put up with this shit for the sake of it. I put up with it because I know her, and this isn’t her.
I try to preempt stressful situations and get ahead of them. Sometimes I don’t listen to the nagging, if I’m honest I don’t always listen to how bad she feels. It’s not because I don’t care, I think we all (men) do this to some degree. We’re just trying to keep our head above water too. Trying to fix it. I hate seeing her in pain. I know it’s real, but I don’t know how to help.
He’s going to leave me soon. I push him away cyclically because I think it’ll be easier, easier for him, not for me. I know I’m useless. I guess this need to be useless alone makes me feel noble. If I am not around to hurt them with my lack of energy, my anger or my tears, surely that’ll make me a better person? I’ll disappear for them.
Who would want to put up with a hormonal, angry, anxious, and constantly unwell, wife? I’m the mother of his kids but I’m not a great one, am I? How could I be when I can barely keep up with our children? I struggle to walk very far, I’m always tired and I dare say, my pelvic floor ain’t what it used to be. I’m overweight because I’m pumped full of hormones, and I crave sugar in the middle of the night. I’m not the woman he fell in love with. I know that much. I was a skinnier, funner, possibly sexier, but still angry, bitch back then.
I often wonder how we’ll survive this. How we keep coming back from it every month.
I love her. We get through it because the good days keep us going. She is a great mum. I know she doesn’t think she is but I’m proud of her, and I trust her parenting implicitly. Our kids are kind because she’s taught them to be. I know she worries about our daughter picking up on things, but the way I see it is different. I see her doing her best. Our kids are lucky they have what they need, and we have fun. Yes it’s hard, but it’s not just hard. It’s amazing too.
I know everyone fucks their kids up a little bit. With the best intentions our actions impact them. I worry. No, worry isn’t a strong enough word. I am petrified that my kids will remember my dysfunction and forget all the times I tried. Equally, I don’t want them to shoulder the burden of believing I fought only for them. I want to find the strength to do it for me, but it’s hard. I’ve been doing it for too long. I don’t sleep. My brain is a cacophony of clashing thoughts. For two weeks out of every four, I hold on white-knuckle, in an attempt to get to the next phase. It feels like a game of Street Fighter except for the fact that completing a level isn’t victorious. The end is never the end. When the mental torture subsides, I am left with acute physical symptoms. Pain that takes weeks to disappear. Debilitating migraine attacks, chronic and all encumbering fatigue. Dense brain fog, mouth ulcers, and chest pain. Even my face hurts. I might do a small task and need to sleep for the rest of the day. It’s a lot of pressure on him. A lot.
She says I don’t communicate with her but sometimes it’s easier just to push through. Because there is an end. She sees it as forever, but it’s not all the time. I’m not making excuses for her, but I don’t see it as constant. Maybe I have more hope, but it’s life factors that make life hard, not just her illnesses. Life would be easier if we had more childcare, she got more rest, we had more money. Maybe if I could work less, and so on. Even if we had those things and the gift of hindsight, none of them would cure her health, or eliminate all of our problems, because there’s no such thing as no problems. Families aren’t perfect. Our bests’ might sometimes look different but we’re both doing the very best we can. Everybody I know is dealing with something, and I don’t say that to minimise how she feels, I say it because it’s true. I say it to reassure her, that whatever the problems are, nothing is so bad that I’d give up on her. We’re a family. I don’t dwell on things in the same way she does. I know from living with her that being able to not dwell is a luxury. She doesn’t switch off because she can’t. Sometimes I say the wrong thing, like “it’s in your head” but I don’t mean it’s not real. How she feels. I don’t mean I don’t believe it. I know it’s real. I just want her to know that I don’t worry about us in the same way she does, because I know we’ll be okay.