How does a single mother deal with depression?
She drags herself out of bed at 8, gets half dressed, makes breakfast and lunches, finishes dressing, takes her children to school.
She gets home and falls back into bed. She sleeps ’till 1 pm. She wakes up feeling somewhat refreshed, somewhat less tired. She contemplates a shower, but puts it off.
She potters around on the computer, she reads her book, she finishes her morning cup of tea, eats a handful of red grapes and the last brownie.
She finally has a shower, makes a coffee, drinks it while doing her online banking, paying a few bills. She reads her book again. Her escape into a world even worse than hers.
It’s time for school pick up. She grabs her book, bag and keys. Gets a great parking spot, right outside the gates. She reads until the bell goes.
The boys are quick to leave their classrooms. They come to her full if stories about a picture of racing cars, the princess and the pea and a splinter in a hand.
They drive home via the post office where a new Wii game awaits. Home again, the boys jump on the Wii, accompanied by crackers and cheese.
She falls back into bed with her book. Then she lies back contemplating dinner. Do they go to Maccas, the pub, or can she face making up a Shepherds pie, half pre-made in the freezer?
Her mother-guilt forces her into the kitchen where she peels three potatoes and puts them on to cook, while sliding the frozen meat mixture into the oven.
She goes back to her book with a glass of red.
When the potatoes are ready, she makes mash and tops the meat mixture with it, covers it with cheese and breadcrumbs and slides it back into the oven for ten minutes.
Somewhere in there, she oversees a melt down from the ten year old over uncharged Wii remotes. Of course she saves the afternoon with new batteries and goes back to her book in peace.
When dinner is ready, the Wii is turned off, hands are washed, dinner is served.
They eat together as always. She asks the boys about their day. She hears again about the Princess and the Pea and about how the ten year old would not take part in the “beep test”.
Her meal eaten, she leaves the boys to finish theirs. She can’t bear their prolonged mucking around. Leaving is better than yelling.
She is back with her book and her wine. Is it the second glass? Maybe.
As she lies back on her bed, inspiration strikes and she decides to write it all down. Because others will want to know how she copes. Because others need to know it’s possible to fulfil one’s motherly obligations while depressed. Because others need to see that the impossible is doable, that you can look after your children well and still retreat into the black maul of the Black Dog. Because she knows that days like today are necessary for her well-being, because tomorrow she’ll feel better and work on her business and do housework and cook dinner from scratch.
Today is a mental health day. She didn’t realise she needed one, but most of the time we don’t. Our bodies do and they fell us when we least expect it. She is getting good at reading the signs and she takes a day when she needs it before her body falls apart.
Tomorrow will be better.