Life Line

When I was pregnant I accessed all the mental health support available but I still spent most of the pregnancy in a state of mental turmoil; afraid of getting out of bed, of leaving the house or having to interact with anyone.

Afraid of the inevitable arrival of the baby.

Afraid of myself.

Of what I might do.

Most mornings, regardless of whether the Northern One was in work or not I would be stuck in bed; almost paralysed with fear at the thought of having to get up. I tended to only get up when I became absolutely desperate for the loo.

I would wobble downstairs; the churning in my stomach and the overwhelming anxiety and dread that I felt made  me dizzy and I found it difficult to balance. I would sit in the bathroom and try and convince myself to have a shower. When that inevitably failed I would try to convince myself to do something, anything other than go back to bed.

One morning I snapped.

I couldn’t cope with the fear and the misery and the almost constant fear of dread that threatened to overwhelm me and drown my last ounce of self-control.

I got out of bed and went downstairs.

I took the vegetable knife that I kept in my work bag and locked myself in the bathroom.

I still don’t really know what I intended to do.

I sat and looked at knife.

I held it to my skin; hard enough to leave marks but not enough to actually cut.

I couldn’t do it.

I couldn’t hurt myself beyond a mild stinging pain and the realisation made me want to scream. I needed to do something serious enough for someone to actually help me although I didn’t know what I actually thought they could do.

I was scared and angry and sick all mixed up together until I couldn’t focus on where I was or what I was doing.

I needed to do something.

Anything.

Anything to show people that I needed them to help me.

Anything rather than sit here feeling sick with fear and so panicked that I couldn’t form coherent thoughts. I knew something terrible was going to happen otherwise why was I so afraid?

I smoothed a lock of hair between my fingers.

I saw the mixed strands of light and dark brown, blond and chestnut.

I held the hair in front of my face, straightening it to it’s full length.

And cut through it with the knife.

I did it again.

And again.

Then I realised what I was doing.

I sat, frozen surrounded by the strands of hair that were scattered all over the floor.

What had I done?

Had I completely lost my mind?

I walked slowly up the stairs, still holding the knife.

I stood in front of the Northern One.

I’ve no idea what went through his mind.

I sat at the top of the stairs, making myself as small as possible and shook.

I was so afraid but I couldn’t escape.

How can you escape from your own thoughts?

The Northern One came and sat beside me and I held onto his hand so tightly that my knuckles went white but it wasn’t enough. He might still leave me, accidentally or on purpose and I would be left alone with my thoughts rampaging around my head.

Thoughts full of darkness and fear and pain.

The Northern One, at my request got one of my scarves.

A black gauzy scarf decorated with flowers embroidered with silver thread and white sequins. It had been a Christmas present from a friend at sixth form; back in a time where I felt like I could do anything I decided to or be anyone that I wanted to be.

So different from the here and know.

He used the scarf to tie our wrists together; an idea that now I look back must have seemed completely insane to him but he did it without any question or protest. He knew that I needed him to do anything he could to make me feel more secure and less out of control, regardless of how illogical he might have thought it was.

It did work.

Partly I think because I felt as though being tied to him anchored me in reality and partly because it was my idea and the fact that I could make a coherent, if not entirely rational decision proved that I hadn’t completely lost my grip on my sanity.

We sat at the top of the stairs, our wrists still tied while he tried to get hold of the emergency mental health team and I tried to wrestle back some small measure of control over my thoughts.

There wasn’t anything the emergency team could do; I was already on the maximum dose of antidepressants and I wasn’t a danger to myself or anyone else. The only thing they could have done would have been to admit me to hospital and I didn’t want that; as frightened as I was in my own house being in a strange place with strange people without the Northern One would have been so much worse.

The scarf is still hanging on the bannister at the bottom of the stairs. It reminds me of how ill I was and how hard I’ve fought to make it to where I am today.

A good nurse able to look after others because I’m sufficiently in control of myself.

A good mother even though there were times during pregnancy that I blamed the baby for everything that was happening.

A good wife even though I put the Northern One through hell.

It wasn’t intentional; we both know that.

But a cut made by a knife doesn’t bleed any less if it was done by accident or on purpose.

It still cuts just as deeply.

It still burns with pain.

And the scar still lasts just as long. 

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