I want to believe I am the best thing since sliced bread.
I want to believe every heart felt word or encouragement from my partner’s mouth.
I want to believe I am the best mum for my daughter.
I want to believe what my daughter so freely shows, that I am her idol.
I want to believe I am the mum that she sees.
But I don’t believe it. I know me better than that and I believe I am toxic to my child.
Isn’t that fucked up?
There’s a lot to be said for postnatal depression and the bullshit it pedals. On the one shoulder there is logical Kirsty, Spock if you will. She will analyse my actions, thoughts and unfaltering love I feel towards my family. She knows I act out of my daughter’s best interests. The reason I buy myself and Jess matching shoes – partly coz ‘family goals’, but mainly because of warmth and protection against the baltic rain and winds of Scotland. Logical Kirsty/Spock knows my every thought and action revolves around Jess, even to my determent – which is a work in progress.
On the other shoulder, there is a pained, nasty, relentless, pessimistic, arrogant and honest arsehole of a Kirsty. Kinda like James T Kirk, but slightly less handsome – basing that on the new Star Treks, although I think I’d rather Bones, but anyway. Nasty Kirsty packs quite the punch from her shoulder of torment. From this angle all my ‘crazy’ is on display, it’s certainly not my ‘good side’. Every snap, every shout, every frustration, every wrong doing I have ever committed is on display, ready to be fired into the VHS player of ‘I’m a fucking arsehole of a human’ when ever my mood allows. Which hasn’t been for a while, to be fair. I get the odd rendition of ‘remember that time you did this’ while I drive to work, but usually, these days, it’s followed by a swift ‘off you fuck‘ from my mind. I’ve played in that crazy field before, it’s not a safe place to be. Yet, as much as I think of myself as ‘getting better’ in terms of my postnatal depression and anxiety, I would by lying if I thought I actually believed the Spock on my shoulder. That nasty shoulder of mind is still there, it still tells me shit and I still believe it. For a while, I thought I didn’t. And maybe I don’t believe all the crap it tells me. But I cannot deny it still has an iron grip on my mind, and I’m not really sure how to wriggle free.
As I drove home from work, giving the usual swearing at other road users, moaning at traffic, wondering how to make millions so I can give up the daily commute, my mind started to wander whilst I thought about Jess – I’m always thinking about that little buddy of mine, rally driving my way to pick her up, getting there as fast as I can because I miss her little face. During my mind wander, I stumbled upon a thought. What if I died? And no, this isn’t in reference to my own, rather terrifying at times, driving. I don’t know how I got to thinking about my own death and what that would mean for Jess, who knows how thoughts work! But that’s where I landed. Fear and sadness didn’t wash over me, nor did I panic or fret that Jessica’s welfare would be in jeopardy. She has a wonderful father and a wonderful family that would look after her. What I did feel, in the pit of my stomach, is that she would be saved. Saved from me. Her toxic, angry, confused, frustrated, snapping, cold mother. And that really pained me, because I honestly believe it.
Anyone can tell me I am the best mother for my own child. My partner can rock me in his arms, comforting me while telling me how much my daughter loves me and how I am the best mother in the world. My friends can gush and awe at our cheeky little creation, verbally patting us on the back for all that she is. My daughter, herself, can cry for me during the night, clingy to me when she’s feeling poorly, tell me she loves me, hug me with all her might, laugh at our shared jokes and I still don’t believe I am as wonderful as I’m told I am. It’s like I know the beast in me, I know who I really am. More Darth Vader than Han Solo. I know the truth, no one else does. Even though Spock has told me on multiple occasions ‘er K, you wrote it all in your blog. Everyone knows how batshit you are. It’s not a secret.’ Affirmative Spock, I know. But I don’t know why I let my dark side rule my heart so much, I don’t know why I can’t get to grips with loving myself and believing what I see in my daughter’s eyes. No one can look at another human with that much love, if that other human is a monster, can they? Jess adores me. We play, we laugh, we streak naked around the place slapping our butts, we argue, we hug, we hide from daddy, we gang up against daddy, we side eye each other, we really annoy the tits off each other, yet we cannot be without each other. How can someone create that kind of bond and still believe that their absence would benefit their child?
I don’t know the answer to that question. At best, I could maybe point you towards the warped reality and messed up realm of depression. Where up is literally down and good deeds are lewd acts of selfishness from others. Everything is tainted with pessimism and hatred. Everyone is an arsehole and I’m the victim. Every negative trait I own is inflated, bursting over any good qualities, blurring it from my vision, until all I see in the mirror is a anxious, angry, hurt, stressed, unloved version of myself. At this moment in time I don’t ‘feel’ depressed, at least on my scale of depression. I’ve been in a place much darker than this, I don’t feel how I felt then. Yet, when I kicked depression out the door, it left behind a few of it’s belongings. Depression was obviously a toddler, because I’m finding bits and pieces of crazy all over the joint, in random places. Just like being surprised to find a months supply of dried cereal in my bed, I’m surprised at the remnants of depression. The gut wrenching ‘wrong’ assumptions left behind, that my child would be better off without me in her life, that just popped into my head on a seemingly happy drive home.
Being aware of how you feel is half the battle, so I was told. I couldn’t be anymore aware of myself if I cut my body open and had a look inside. Maybe I’m too aware of my mind and I give it too much power. I struggle to equip my laid back gene in relation to my mind. Which is pretty strange as I’m not a huge one for stressing over ‘stuff’ that needs to be stressed over, like house repairs or the burning smell that came from my car having no oil (years ago, I learnt my lesson). But, Christ, I snap once at my toddler and I’ll be self loathing for days, analyzing who, where and why I got to be such a monster that would snap at a child…a child that was jumping on our bed, the bed that’s got quite a drop to the floor, and the child jumps and jumps and jumps. Yet I ask (not even tell) her to stop, I explain why, I ask again, she ignores me, I tell her to stop, she laughs and jumps slightly less high while making eye contact, I do the ‘parent’ exhaling through the nose and grind my teeth, she jumps and almost falls, my heart falls out my arse and I scream bloody murder at her… You’re right Spock, no wonder I bloody snapped! I’m not a monster. She’s an arsehole and I’m only human.
But there’s times when I’m not human. Times I snap for no reason. Times I have THEshortest fuse known to (wo)man. and it’s those times that are used as ammunition against me, by me. I whittle all this snapping and frustration down to being a tiny bit mental mixed with a whole load of my personality. Unfairly balancing out the scales between depression and my personality, never in favour of myself. I have myself in a warped spot light, nowhere to hide, I see all my dark yet ignore the good. Believing my personality, but just the shit side, will cause my daughter upset and eventually be ingrained into her personality that she, in 20 years, will be sitting writing a blog asking why she believes she’s an arsehole, contrary to the evidence surrounding her. I fear she becomes the monster that is me.
It doesn’t really matter what I tell myself at this moment in time, Jess and I are best buddies, I created that, I can’t be that bad. Or that maybe the reason I believe I am so toxic is because I care so much for her, proving that I am good for my daughter. Nothing rings true, nothing produces the same emotion and feeling quite like the sickness of thinking she would be better without me. Right now nothing can beat that feeling, therefore I don’t truly believe anything else. Jess could grab me, squashing my cheeks between her grubby little hands, look straight into my eyes and tell me I am the best mum in the world and I still wouldn’t believe it. And that’s a pretty sad place to be. Especially since I’ve been here a while, slipping in and out of thinking I’m a good mum yet feeling otherwise. Maybe this is all just a part of becoming a parent, we all self doubt at some points, or maybe on all the points. Maybe there are a bunch of parents out there looking like they are confident in all their parentness, meanwhile they question their every move. Maybe I’m not quite there yet with my mental health, maybe there is a lot of foundation work to being well again that I naively thought wouldn’t be required after I began to feel better. Maybe.
Being ‘depressed’ and anxious is one thing, but this non believing, self criticism bullshit is something else. Why didn’t the crazy just piss off and take all it’s crap with it? All the self confidence I ever had has been demolished and I’ve been left to rebuild it – using a messed up mind and clumbsy hands.
This could take a while. Set phasers to ‘fucking give me a break mental health!’. Or just board me on the Enterprise and boost me off to ‘fuck knows where’, so I can sort my shit out in peace. That will do nicely.