I thought that I was doing okay. I truly believed that finally, I had managed to beat the black dog into submission and sent it crawling off with it’s tail between it’s legs. It seemed like the hard work I had put in over the months, was starting to pay off, and that there really was some light, glimmering hopefully at the end of the dark, depressive tunnel I’d found myself in.
Even though I had to drop out of my CBT Group Therapy due to childcare issues, the effect it had on me was amazing. I went out of the house more – something that in and of itself was a huge leap of faith. I became more daring with the colours I chose to wear, choosing brighter colours over the drab black and brown shades, that I usually adorned myself in. I switched Big Bro’s nursery to a closer, nicer one and got to witness his beaming face when finally, his mummy started to pick him up after each session. I began interacting more with his teachers – providing them with heaps of information and making sure that they understood his condition properly, with wonderful results for his confidence. I even started looking for work.
Then it all came crashing down.
I had to face the prospect of being alone with all three children for two days of the week. The thought filled me with so much anxiety that what little sleep I somehow manage to have, reduced itself to almost nothing. I ran over and over the scenarios in my head, working myself up into a nervous wreck so much so, that by Thursday – the first day of parenting alone, I had forgotten everything that I had previously learned about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, ultimately letting the black dog – more formally known as depression, come leaping back in.
It seems so stupid doesn’t it? It’s just three children right? I mean yeah, there’s going to be tantrums, most probably tears as well, but how bad can it really be? Let me explain.
I don’t know why but I have zero confidence when I’m on my own with my children. Maybe it’s the constant criticism that I’ve had from certain people, the interfering in my own methods of parenting, that has made me have so little faith in my ability to be a good mother. When you’re constantly being told that your state of mind is mere laziness, that your inability to function sometimes is just an excuse to sit on your backside and do nothing, that you use the people around you to achieve your own ends, then it’s pretty self explanatory. What’s more, when you see it in the eyes of your own partner, it cuts deeper than any knife could.
I find it really hard to play with my children. I look at The Beef with envy when he’s rolling around the floor, with a pile of mini people piled on top of him, laughing, smiling and enjoying themselves. I’d love to be the one doing that – pull all of the toys out and make-believe tea parties, pretend to be a zoo-keeper, or play shops, but something stops me. I don’t know what it is, but something in the back of my mind prevents me from just doing it. Maybe it’s a deep rooted fear that I’m not good enough – heck I’ve said it enough in the heat of the moment, but even knowing that, I can still barely do it.
This is why it’s so hard when I’m doing the mummy thing alone. They get bored and despite my best efforts to amuse them, to play with them in the only ways that I know how, it’s never enough and all of those anxious predictions that I made, start turning into a reality. They stop wanting mummy to play with them, they act out and fight at every little thing that I try to do for them. And when daddy comes home, it’s hugs, kisses, rough and tumble, with me in the background feeling like a failure, with no-one but the black dog.
Maybe it’s just a blip, maybe not. I’m on the waiting list for 1-to-1 CBT, but it’s a long wait that can’t come soon enough and I’m afraid that by the time that comes, it will be too late, and I will have lost everything.
Does the black dog re-visit you now and then? How do you deal with it when it returns, or does it ever truly go away?