Like most, I will be glad to see the back of 2020. It’s been a tough year on many levels. This is the year of Covid-19, isolation and lockdown. But on a more personal note, this is the year I grieved the end of my marriage, couldn’t go to work because of the fatigue and pain I experience and the year my eldest started school. It has been a year of ups and downs but I got through it.
If 2020 has taught me anything, I can’t remember what it is at the moment. My marriage ended in January 2019. It was, I would say, a sudden and unexpected ending. Not that we didn’t have issues, but they were ‘normal people issues’ that modern families have, so I didn’t think they would cause the complete breakdown of our marriage. I was wrong. My husband left and didn’t look back. My eldest was (and still is) devastated whilst my youngest was, thankfully, none the wiser. I did everything in my power to keep things as ‘normal’ as possible for my girls. I had a few moments where they saw me break down but I used those times to teach them that it was okay to miss someone they love when they’re not there. I slapped on a smile and got on with it. I was nice to their dad in front of them and civil at most other times. I kept it up for over a year. What I didn’t realise was that about 10 months after he left, my body couldn’t keep it up. This may have been coincidence or it may have been linked but at that point I became so tired that I felt like I couldn’t do everything I needed to. On the day that I couldn’t lift my head from the pillow and cried every time I opened my eyes I phoned the GP. I went to see her and we put it down to anxiety and depression. It was coming up to the first Christmas after my husband had left and I was struggling to hold it together. That Christmas was also the first time I thought I didn’t want to be here. A fleeting thought, but a scary one.
So 2019 wasn’t great. Turns out it was just the trailer for 2020 and there was worse to come. The depression and anxiety eased, but the fatigue got worse. The first day I slept for 20 hours I couldn’t believe it. And to make matters worse, I was still tired! I had no energy to do anything and was feeling horrendously guilty for not being able to tidy the house or play with my kids. Then lockdown hit and it was just me and my babies for 12 weeks straight. I was sleeping during the day with them sitting on me watching Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig because there was no hope of me staying awake. Luckily my kids are awesome and trustworthy but the guilt just kept piling on. I was a terrible mum, my kids deserved someone better, I should just get up and play with them, I should be ashamed of myself. I will say now that none of that was true because I was giving it my all. Every ounce of energy I had went to looking after my kids. My personal hygiene went out the window and I went to bed at the same time as them so that I could get as much rest as possible.
I was still off work too, which was awful. I am one of the lucky people who has a job that I love and I miss it every day. That also made me feel guilty and made my fatigue worse. I did try to go back to work but I didn’t last long and by this time I was having joint pain too, as well as some socially unacceptable symptoms. Having to stop working again was awful, especially after such a short time back. I felt like I had let everyone I work with down and was being a terrible role model for my kids. Now that I realise my kids are happy, healthy and safe, my big fear is that I don’t get back to work. I just can’t think about that for now, it makes everything feel worse and so much harder.
During this time my eldest started school and I have to say I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of her. She has taken to it so well and is absolutely amazing. She loves it and gives it her all. She got a kindle for Christmas, chose a book and read it to me! My heart almost exploded with pride and love. She is a little super star! Definitely one of the highlights of my year.
Things were less joyful when my ex announced he had a new partner this year and I realised I hadn’t taken any time to think about my marriage or grieve the end of it. I had been so busy making sure my girls were ok and getting through Christmas and New Year and dealing with these strange symptoms and just trying to get through each day (which by this stage involved fatigue, joint pain, muscle pain, headaches and those delightful socially unacceptable symptoms). Anyway, I met his girlfriend and then the kids met her. She is lovely and I think she will be good with my girls which is all I care about. I suppose now would be a good time to mention that my ex doesn’t know what the truth is. He isn’t exactly a liar, he just bends the truth so its more in his favour or more like what he thinks you want to hear. Also, he wasn’t good for my mental health and I never felt like I was good enough, pretty enough, posh enough or clever enough for him and was constantly doubting my worth and my self in general. I’m sure that was a combination of both our personalities but I’m pretty certain he used it to his advantage on more that one occasion. My mental health hasn’t been good for a few years now but I deal with it and I get help when I need it.
The lead up to Christmas has been particularly tough. The pain was getting worse and the fatigue just takes over my life. But on top of this I began to think about all the things that were never going to happen because my husband had walked out and moved on. My ‘plan’ had never involved being a single mum or having to share my kids on weekends or losing half of my family. I cried and raged and slept and cried and slept and cried until no more tears would come. I was surprised how much crying I was able to do. Then I thought about it. I don’t want him back, I don’t like him and he is very bad for my mental health. So what was I grieving? I was grieving my plan. I was grieving for my children because they don’t know why daddy left. I was grieving for my in-laws who are now just people I used to be close to. I was grieving not being good enough for him despite driving myself into the ground trying. It’s still hard and it still hurts but I wouldn’t change it and I suppose there has to be some comfort in that.
As we approached Christmas my mental health took a nose dive. I was overthinking everything and feeling sorry for myself and one day it all became too much. I felt awful. I was exhausted beyond words, the pain was horrendous, I was sad about my marriage, I didn’t want to share my kids at Christmas, I just wanted to not be here. I didn’t want to be responsible for not being here because I couldn’t have my kids having their dad walk out on them and then me desert them. But if something could just happen so that I didn’t need to deal with it all that would suit me just fine. It was scary and as I thought about it I realised I had to do something. If not for me then at least for my kids. I called the doctor and explained. I told her I wasn’t likely to do anything drastic but I just really and truly didn’t want to be here. I just wanted to take the easy way out (and I still do to a degree). I feel like the last 2 years have been crap. My entire life has fallen apart and I don’t know how to put it back together. I’m pretty sure if it wasn’t for my kids I wouldn’t be here but then again, if it wasn’t for my kids I would have probably grieved sooner and have fewer issues with the whole marriage ending thing. But then again, I think if we didn’t have kids we might not have separated. I could go on.
I won’t be sorry to see the end of this year. But I will take forward a few important things. I am a good mum and when it comes to my girls I give them my all, they are happy, healthy and safe. I wouldn’t change the situation I’m in so I need to make it work for me. I will do everything I can to improve my health, manage this illness and have the best possible life for me and my girls. There are people out there who are so much worse off than me and I am grateful for my girls, family, friends, colleagues and my safe, warm home. If you have had a tough year I hope next year is better for you.
If you ever feel like you don’t want to be here please reach out for help. Call your GP or NHS24. There are many organisations out there who help people in need, please reach out. You are not alone.