People ask me how I manage it, but evidently, I don’t…

Yesterday, I sat at the table and I cried through lunch.

Not one of those snotty, bellowing, heart-wrenching cries. No. Silent tears dribbled down my face and plopped into my lap – I was tissue-less.

Yesterday, one child after another tried to console me at the dinner table and one child after another faced me with a just a little despair in their eyes. When is Mama finally going to get better?

I recognized their despair – had they have been able to see through my water-logged eyes it would have been mirrored right back at them.

Five weeks ago today, I awoke, as usual,  but it took me 45 whole minutes to be able to force my body from the bed.

I had run into a wall.


This is my third burnout in five years.

It took me every drop of willpower I’ve ever owned to throw off my quilt, push myself up and place my feet, slowly and continuously, one in front of the other and whisper, “It’s time to get up…” to an unsuspecting six-year-old who was due to go to Kindergarten.

Time was running past me and if I couldn’t motivate myself enough, she’d have to stay at home, and that would mean that I’d have to look after her.

If I could just get her out of the door, drive the short distance in the car, then I could return to my bed and sleep…

She was so good. So obedient. She dressed herself without much fuss and got her shoes on.

Which was more than I could do.

I managed to drag a scruffy pair of joggers over my nightie and shove my arms inside my winter jacket. Looking back, I think I tramped through the snow in my slippers.

No one gave my shamed, exhausted face a second look as I accompanied her from the car to the door. And I was truly grateful for that.

I have spent the last five weeks sleeping and crying and struggling to chew the food my husband cooked for me because, quite simply, it felt like so much effort. I’ve almost drowned in daytime telly. I’ve battled headaches and dizzy turns and stuffed myself with caffeine so I could keep a bleary eye on where an ADHD child and a six-year-old were bouncing to.

I’ve complained.

I’ve scolded.

And I’ve felt very, very sorry for myself.

I’ve dodged dentists. Avoided the drip, drip, drip of the anaesthetists drugs because I feared that if they put me chemically to sleep for my yearly procedure, my body might not actually bother to wake up. I’ve bypassed blood tests. And just generally avoided my usual multiple monthly visits to doctors’ waiting rooms because I couldn’t get there and anyway,  I had no intention of adding various other ailments to my wrecked body.

Except, that is, when my youngest succumbed to gastroenteritis and couldn’t even keep a splash of water down, leading to “blurry vision”. My husband raced home and I rallied myself for a brief moment, as he drove and I held a blue bucket under her nose.

Luckily, she was classed as ‘probably infectious’; so we sneakily side-stepped the germy waiting room.

I’m not a patient ill person. I hate lazing around. I am a person who constantly needs to do something.

It is starting to dawn on me that that is probably one of the reasons I landed in this situation in the first place.

It’s been five weeks, but today, at last, I felt a little different. A little less tired than yesterday. It was a little bit easier to climb out of bed this morning. I laughed instead of cried. I hope, I really, really hope that I’ve finally reached a turning point. That when the children head back to school next week and it’s all ‘action stations’ once again, I’m still laughing, still getting out of bed and not going to the Kindergarten in my bloody nightie and slippers.


19 thoughts on “People ask me how I manage it, but evidently, I don’t…”

  1. Sarsm,
    Thank You for your honesty! If I am honest: we don’t always hold it together either.
    It’s a reality of “life” these days, that usually we are busy stretching ourselves thinner and thinner over a zillion everyday tasks (all of which are urgent as far as children / family /work are concerned) and sometimes the elastic refuses to spring back into shape afterwards… and on occasion it even breaks completely.

    Himself and I have both had episodes of looking and feeling like very old elastic, ragged around the edges, uneven, with stray unruely bits of emotion and temper that we didn’t even care if people saw.
    At various times we have both suffered depression, on one occasion both severely at the same time when his Dad and my Dutch Grandma passed away three days apart. Two large funerals where each others family were caught up in their own grief didn’t help us and we fell in a massive hole of emptiness and loss that the other completely understood but since we were each in our own pit there was no one at the top with a rope to help haul ourselves out.
    (there were other stresses with each of us going though terrible times at our workplaces, we each had a close family member giving us grief, our financial and health situations were shaky and the “friend” who was a tradesman and said he could do some major work on our first home renovations turned out to be unreliable, expensive and incompetent so we returned home each night to a house that looked like the only thing we needed next was a bulldozer… well not quite, but it felt that way at least).
    It took weeks for things to improve, nay months… close to a year

    The saving grace was that this happened before we had kids so we took steps to try and recognise symptoms and to get some help. We still have dips, usually little ones and not at the same time,

    We put in place routines and coping mechanisms and also if one of us is having a really low day and we just can’t explain why, we talk about it… we tell the other one that we just need time to wallow for a bit and it will come good… we then take steps together to use the ropes to pull ourselves out of the hole. Our trick: find something that helps: with me it’s usually work pressure and a lack of creativity that’s a trigger, with Himself a lack of a really tough workout. He found he needs regular exercise so he’s taken up running and has just done a 21 km half marathon… I get into the kitchen and do some cooking therapy or try and spend a few hours with embroidery or my arty stuff.

    Our triggers are that we stretch ourselves too thin doing everything for other people (even ones we love dearly) for too long, running to keep up with work, study, kid activities, extended family, the basics of home and every day living chores. Time for yourself falls away completely and love everyone as you do, your elastic energy is stretched past breaking point.

    Find “Your activity” that recharges you…and use it as a special treat for yourself… the “you” time that gets priority even just once a week. If your hubby knows that his part in helping you get out of the dip is to help with other obligations so that you are free to do this activity, (and visa versa) then you can help each other recharge your batteries, It really does help, I can vouch for it.

    Does depression go way? No… but you can make it easier to live with, without drugs and too much hassle, it takes a family plan of action and a realisation that you need to attack the problem with do-able, affordable solutions when it starts, and most of all..not to beat yourself up about it, you are a HUMAN BEING and not a machine. There are many people who have these dips, but we almost never talk about them so Bravo! you have had great courage and there Is light at the end of the tunnel (One day that light “might” be a train set to derail our lives,but so far not, so so-far-so good).

    You are far more normal than you think… you are stronger than you think too…( I know it doesn’t *feel* like it sometimes) but persevere!
    Talk about it here too, you are not alone… I’m certain more people can completely, utterly and totally identify with the nightie and slippers (I can!!!)

  2. Wow! I’m so sorry that you’re having a rough time but luckily, it’s getting better. One day at a time. I encourage you to stay as strong as you can. Think as many happy and positive thoughts as possible. Life is hard but the alternative isn’t as great (in my opinion). Keep that chin up. *HUGS*

  3. Hiya Love. Thought you’d been a bit quiet recently. Was worried Rei’s wee ‘memory’ glitch had been the final straw. Hope this really is the turning point. Touch wood, I’ve always been able to pull myself back from the brink – but I lived with Mother-Dearest long enough to know how the funk settles and it’s really just a case of “there but for the Grace…” for me! xxx

  4. I know exactly how you feel. Except my daughter doesn’t behave when it’s time to go and I’m dragging my sorry self along. Leif, who sees my grief and misery gets mad at everything that causes me even a moment of distress, and instead of marshaling himself to help, picks fights with the spud because he can’t fix my money problems, car problems, eye problems, school problems, or our impending homelessness and then on top of being nearly immobilized with misery, despair and fear, I get so mad at him there’s not even words to describe how I feel.

    People are always telling me what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Well, I certainly haven’t morphed into Superman, which, in order for this popular wisdom to be true, seems it should have been the result long before now, so I can only assume that my fate is likely to be the first, highly unpleasant option. The only thing keeping me going these days is the fact that I’m too ornery to give the world the satisfaction of putting me down before I decide I’m ready. However, I’m feeling a little more ready each day, and it scares me to wake up every morning crying and going to bed each night thoroughly okay with it if I never wake back up. I hope there is something left of me by the time my better days arrive.

    Thanks for sharing, I hope it gave you some relief. I will take a lot of satisfaction in knowing you might finally have a light at the end of your tunnel. It gives me hope to know I’m not alone and that better days do come around. Please take care of yourself. We all know we need to do that, but us moms especially tend to put ourselves last. Virtual hugs, Janie

  5. I get this way in winter. It wasn’t so bad in California where it is sunny most days, but here in the south the winter is rainy and/or cloudy more days than not. A sunny day is like a shot of adrenaline for me and enables me to accomplish something. But mostly, I do nothing in winter but feel exhausted and sad. (and lazy, and guilty, and alone) Sarah, thank you for sharing. It helps.

  6. My sweet, dear Sarah. I will hold your hand and sit with you when you rest, sing a song while you get dressed, and laugh when you are ready to face the world again. Hang in there, sweetie, hang in there. Grab a spark of energy and hold on to it, for it will lead you onward.
    And I’ll be waiting right here for you.
    Hugs and a big kiss,

  7. Oh grief. I’ve been there done that. I’d say more, but I don’t want to tire you with my story. All I can say is I came unraveled at age 23 and it too about 20 years for me to feel better. I don’t know if the succession of therapists or drugs helped. What I do know is IT GOT BETTER. And, I have really enjoyed my granchildren. The best advice I can give is “Fake it Til you Make it.”

    I had lost my faith. All I can say is believe in LOVE. The Beatles were right. All you Need is Love. Dianne

  8. Oh, Sarah, what a tough place to be in. I really hope you feel better soon. Are you asking for help? Getting the support you need from friends and/or family? Your kids sound like they’re doing their best to help, so that’s great. I used to feel depressed when I spent my winters in Connecticut mostly locked up at work and under gray clouds. Have you tried being outside more often and enjoying the sunlight? I definitely feel a lot better in the winter living in sunny San Diego. You know you can always email me if you feel like talking, or just venting.

  9. So many of us have been through this, but as much as people sympathise or say they understand – each of us endure our own little hell.

    Once upon a time I struggled to even get to the letterbox 🙂 Maybe some day you could read my post about Living with IT,

    Hang in there hon, all of us who are commenting here are proof that you can come out the otherside and the light is bright and welcoming. Hugs x

  10. When people ask me how I raised my five kids (as though there is a hidden rule book somewhere) I simply tell them, ” I didn’t say I was sane, did I?” They don’t usually ask again. Hang in There! There is a light at the end of the ‘raising children tunnel’. Take Care!

  11. Those mornings are so hard. Actually all mornings are hard and those are tripley so. I always go to school in joggers with my pj top buried under a fleece. Now that winter is coming I need socks too. That’s just one more thing, isn’t it?
    I’m glad your days are getting better. I hope that continues.

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