Every day for the last few weeks I have sat down to write and yet somehow, completely out of nowhere, the words won’t come. And it’s not that I don’t know what I want to say, nor that I have nothing at all to share with you, I guess it’s just that I’m really not sure where to start.
One of the wonderful things about being a blogger is the support which you all show me, and my family, on a daily basis. Each day I am grateful for your kind messages, complimenting me on my beautiful family, praising me for the awareness I raise about baby loss, and commending me on my bravery in surviving such heart ache to go on and find happiness.
And whilst I appreciate those messages, in ways I could never hope to convey, by putting myself out there and sharing our story comes a silent, yet at times stifling, pressure, not from others but from myself, to continue on this journey without letting any of you down.
I have made no secret of my battle with my mental health. I have been honest and open about the depression which hit in my teens, how that soon spiralled into an eating disorder, into panic and anxiety, and how, ultimately, I found myself in a mental health facility extremely unwell and at an all time low.
I guess when you’ve been to hell and back, when you’ve fought so hard to claw back a little sanity, a little hope, it is inevitable that the same people who failed to notice how bad things were, are hyper aware of not missing the same signs again. Far too often I am asked, are you feeling okay? Are you eating properly? Are you taking your medication? You would tell me if things were bad, wouldn’t you?
And yet sometimes, it’s far easier to tell others that you are doing just fine, even at the times you are not.
It’s funny because over the years I have become adept at tuning into my mood, at pinpointing the moments, and the events, which trigger those negative feelings inside of me. I have been all too aware of the signs that life was becoming a little harder, my days a little tougher, my nights filled with anxious thoughts and an overwhelming sense of loneliness. And yet this time, right now, it has sneaked up on me in a way that I wasn’t expecting, like an old friend tapping me on the shoulder, causing all of those memories to come flooding back. And it wasn’t until last week when I found myself crying in a Pilates class that it hit me just how low I have got.
And later, as I sobbed on the phone to my best friend, spewing out all of my feelings in one long, desperate, and snot filled, breath, when still I assured her that I would be absolutely fine, she told me, “Laura, I know you’re not okay.”
And I guess sometimes, that is all we want to hear.
Because you know what? It’s bloody hard being a grown up, dealing with four children, running a business, a house that is never clean and a life that, although I am absolutely grateful for, is not the one I dreamt of.
It’s hard to realise that I’m not the Mother I hoped I would be, and the Mother I want to be, when the children just will not listen, when they cry and argue and scream from morning ’til night, when my sanity is literally hanging by a thread. It’s hard to know what to do for the best when I’m dealing with aspects of parenting that I never even contemplated, when my children are unwell, or ridden with anxiety. It’s hard to tell the children that everything will be okay when, sometimes, I can’t even promise that it will be.
It’s hard dealing with health issues, with four long years of relentless tests, scans and specialists, being in pain 24-7, taking a cocktail of drugs each day simply to function, battling with an overwhelming reality that, realistically, I will feel this way forever.
It’s desperately hard to live, every moment of every day, without Joseph, to see another Summer come around so fast, to see another birthday he will never celebrate. It’s incredibly hard to make sense of the anger and sadness that eats me up inside, to find the words to explain how all consuming my loss still is, to admit that, whilst the world keeps on turning, a part of me is still stuck in 2006, lost in time for always.
It’s hard to explain that whilst I have a wonderful life, with the most beautiful of children, sometimes, inexplicably, it simply isn’t enough. It’s hard to be a grown up when you simply don’t have the answers.
And perhaps this last month has pushed me over the edge somewhat? Perhaps going on live television to speak about stillbirth, the day after I discovered a lump in my breast, when my mind was filled with fear and my heart was filled with loss, was a little ambitious for the best of us?
Because although, thank god, after the longest two weeks I got the all clear from the hospital, during that agonising wait when I lay awake worrying about the outcome, cursing the return of my insomnia, it has left me feeling incredibly fragile.
And although I was completely honoured to share Joseph’s story with the nation, to be a part of something that raised so much awareness and did all of our babies proud, it has still left me feeling a little bruised, a little sad, a little lost.
And whilst so many of you commend me on my bravery and strength, whilst family and friends tell me how utterly proud they are of me for all I have achieved and how very far I have come, whilst others comment on how healthy I look, and how happy I seem, I want you to know that I am still fighting, still battling, still trying my very hardest to survive.
And although things are hard right now, although I am feeling so overwhelmed by life, I’ll keep going, I’ll see my counsellor, I’ll hold my little ones close, I’ll be kinder to myself, and I’ll bounce back, I’m sure. Because in the words of someone far wiser than I, nothing lasts forever, not even your troubles.