My First Mothers Day Without My Daughter

With Mother’s Day coming up my thoughts recently have drifted back to this time last year. It was such a difficult time losing Silver and Mother’s Day being so soon afterwards. Mother’s Day itself was quite traumatic and my mental health hit an all time low. I’ve never really spoke about it until now.

I still remember after she had passed away me and Fabian went to the metro centre for some fresh air and to buy thank you cards for all the staff that had looked after ourselves and Silver Rose. The grief was so raw I honestly don’t know how I managed to walk around the shops that day. If I ever saw someone pregnant or with a young baby I would break down and my chest would feel so tight I could barely catch my breath. The worst part was that every shop we walked past was displaying gifts for Mother’s Day, every restaurant was advertising to book a table for the special day.

I was in two minds leading up to Mother’s Day. Part of me was hoping for a special gift or something to commemorate Silver’s life and our time together. Part of me was so hurt and broken knowing I now would be celebrating Mother’s Day without my daughter and didn’t want to even think about that day. I probably sent a lot of mixed messages to Fabian and he undoubtedly felt under immense pressure to get it right when in reality no matter what he did, he wasn’t going to get it right. Its never going to be right to birth a daughter and yet you didn’t even get one Mother’s Day on earth together.

In hindsight we probably should have known I was bound to crack at some point. Shockingly I was the strong one through the pregnancy despite everyone expecting my mental health to flare up. We should have put a plan in place to safeguard myself, knowing that as a sufferer of borderline personality disorder (also known as emotionally unstable personality disorder) I am prone to suicidal “tendencies”. Thankfully I have recently started to notice more and more when I am unstable and I am able to warn people and take preventative measures.

Now is probably a good time to give a trigger warning. I will be discussing in graphic, honest detail my attempt at suicide including the thoughts that ran through my head. I would ask that if you do feel you are struggling with anything similar, to please seek advice and support from friends, family and professionals. I would also strongly advise that if you do feel unstable right now to not read any further.

I’ll give you a brief history of my mental health for context. I was diagnosed at 15 with depression and anxiety. It was my darkest days and I had many run ins with self-harm and suicidal thoughts. I can still remember my first overdose. It was over a silly dispute between me and Fabian based on jealousy. For the first time I felt so overwhelmed that in that moment none of my regular coping methods were good enough.

I was taken to hospital via ambulance. I felt so ashamed and worried my parents would be disappointed. I felt embarrassed and hated that the focus was on me and I guess I felt like I was in trouble and had done something stupid and reckless. Okay so technically I had… The worst part is that after this it somehow became easier to think that way. I became less worried about what people thought and people just got used to it.

I didn’t intentionally get worse and I don’t agree with the misconception that people with borderline are manipulative or attention seekers. I think we are misunderstood souls. The problem was that I did subconsciously realise people cared more about me when I worried them. Me and Fabian went through some rough patches and it was hard to ignore the validation I felt when he would show more love and affection after my suicide attempts. I did go through a phase where I needed to do this to give myself the reassurance that people loved me. Its hard when you are in a bad place with each other and don’t show affection at any other time.

When I was 18 and transferred to adult services there was a significant lack of support from professionals. I did however get diagnosed with borderline and thankfully at this time I was no longer depressed so didn’t require as much support. I felt so much relief to have the diagnosis of borderline. It perfectly described me and the behavioural traits I had been displaying all my life that had never made sense to me. Some people don’t like having a label, but I loved the fact I now felt like I understood myself and could look back and rationalise some of the behaviours I had once exhibited.

Over the years I have matured with age, something I was told when I was first diagnosed with borderline would happen. I was told by the age of thirty my symptoms would likely have improved significantly. Of course at the time that was over ten years away and was not really of any particular comfort. I’m pleased to say I should be “sane” in about five years time if that is anything to go by!

Now you know a bit more about me lets go to Mother’s Day last year. I don’t know what particularly triggered it, most likely I wasn’t coping emotionally and didn’t like how the day was going with my grief being so fresh. No doubt I became ratty with Fabian and an argument ensued. What I can remember most was sitting in my bedroom windowsill with a noose made from a tie hanging from the curtain pole.

As I previously mentioned, I’ve been suicidal before and it’s almost my default coping mechanism/ way of thinking when I am overwhelmed. The difference this time was that I had a true motivation for wanting to go ahead. Have you ever noticed that the people who say they are going to kill themselves rarely do, and the ones that have hidden it are the ones who follow through and surprise you? Well I totally agree with this. The times I’ve screamed that I’m going to do it is actually me crying for helping and in fact saying I really don’t want to do it, please help me.

Mother’s Day wasn’t like that. It was a new experience for me because I felt calm. I didn’t feel scared of pain or scared of death. I felt at peace, knowing all I had to do was one jump off that ledge and I’d be with my baby girl. I missed her so badly and just wanted to be with her. I’ve only ever felt this way one other time, a few weeks ago when I was plunged into a nasty bout of postnatal depression. Thankfully this time I have amazing support and have openly discussed it with my mental health team because on reflection it does scare me. It scares me to know how impulsive I can be and what I would be leaving behind yet in that moment I truly believe the world is a better place without me.

I’m not sure why but last year we didn’t actually get any external services involved. I am all too familiar with the inside of an ambulance unfortunately but on this occasion despite the severity they were not called. We have realised personally that the hospital is not usually the best place when I’m in a crisis and riding it out at home until exhaustion takes over sometimes is a better option.

I tend to always follow the same pattern and after several hours if not all day/ night I will then get to the point I just want taking care of. I no longer want to push Fabian away and fight with him about the stupid things he accidentally says. I want to be held, loved and cared for. You could say I revert to an almost childlike disposition. More often than not Fabian will run me a bath and I’m usually so exhausted he helps me out before settling me into bed, making sure I’ve eaten and have a drink before I then regress into a much needed slumber.

The following day I usually feel drained and full of guilt. Me and Fabian have a habit of using personal things against each other during an argument. I guess in that moment we really want to hurt each other but I then tend to ruminate on it and spend the next day repeatedly apologising and feeling like I deserve punishing. I feel unworthy of love and I sometimes punish myself by overworking my body to the point of further exhaustion or I might leave eating until I’m so dizzy I have to eat to avoid collapse.

It’s a vicious cycle and I guess I wanted to share my experience to show that suffering from mental health problems isn’t something to be embarrassed about. No matter how bad it gets or who it effects the worst thing you can do is feel guilty and compound the problem. I am finding more and more that I improve when I acknowledge the crazy shit I do and the more I get to know my illness and become more perceptive the more I can warn people when I’m unstable and easily triggered and the more I can prevent myself getting into dangerous situations.

I really hope it helps others to read my story and feel that they are not alone and that despite feeling like you are at the end of the line, amazing things may be coming your way. If I had known in that moment that not many weeks later I would find out I was pregnant with the precious little girl I now hold in my arms I might have felt like I could carry on. There are many times I want to give up, and life does keep throwing shit my way but I’ve also had amazing things happen too. Becoming a mum has been an amazing yet challenging part of my life and is one of my reasons that when I feel low it stops me in my tracks.

One way or another grief changes you, whether you want it to or not. It can make you fear death or it can make death seem appealing. It did both for me. I’m often fighting with my own thoughts and trying my best to accept reality despite how cruel and unfair it is so that I can enjoy the life I have and the people that are still with me. Grief has made me an overly protective anxious parent but it’s also made me a grateful parent who cherishes every little moment. I am lucky enough to know that in the times when I feel stressed and at the end of my tether that I am in fact so lucky to have my two living children, even when they drive me a little crazy.

Grieving death has made me appreciate life in all its fragility.

Until next time,

Holly x