All the Tears

I opened this blog post to write this morning and I just couldn’t do it. Usually I don’t think about the blankness of the page in front of me, I just plunge straight in and write. I try not to edit or delete until I’ve got to the end of a piece of writing because sometimes the bits I chop out afterwards are the most important bits for me to write for myself, even if they’re not the bits that are important for other people to read.

Even though the blog is public, it is this freedom I feel as I write that has meant I have stuck with it through thick and thin. I’ve never felt so honest, been so honest as I have here in my little corner of the virtual word, plonking words down, finding my way through my days and thoughts and making my mark (s).

Today I found the blankness daunting, because what did I have to say?

What I had to honestly say was that I have had a rough couple of days since my last post and I was disappointed, bitterly disappointed, because I had thought I was on the mend and now I felt like I wasn’t. I didn’t want to say it to myself. I didn’t want to say it to anyone else.

I didn’t want to make it ‘real’ by writing it down, and yet perversely I knew I needed to, because all this stuff about failing is just more of those lies I’m telling myself, and when I write it down I have to think about and acknowledge all the twistiness of my brain. This morning it felt too difficult to do that. Tonight it doesn’t.

I have spent the last two days crying.  That spontaneous crying that you just can’t help. The tears that just well up and won’t behave and go back where they came from. The big, fat sobs that are just full of sadness and rip out of you whenever they feel like it.

It has not stopped me doing anything, this crying. I have cried while scrubbing the bathroom floor, while feeding the cat, while making bread and listening to Oscar read. I cried in the shower. I cried on the way to meet my friend today. I cried after my friend visited yesterday.

I don’t have anything to be sad about. I have everything to be sad about. There is a lot of sad, and I was feeling all of it. Or that’s what it felt like. It feels less like that now, which is good. It was almost certainly what I needed to do. It was cathartic.  It will probably happen again. This feels less good, but it does feel more ok than it did this morning.

My thoughts told me that I had failed. That I was not getting better.

The reality is that there isn’t any failure in this game unless I choose to stop breathing, which I don’t. Every day I draw breath in and out of my lungs is a day I win. Every day I put one foot in front of the other, I win. Every day I find ways to take care of myself, I win.

Recovery from depression/mental illness is not a straight line on a graph. That’s just another lie I tell myself when I’m not very well. Recovery for me, is a bit of a three steps forward, two steps back game. I gain ground, but some days it’s imperceptible and generally it’s only in looking back that I can see how far I’ve come.

The devil is in the detail with my mental health. Yes, I have cried my eyes out, but I have also managed to wash, sleep, cook and eat. These details are important. These boring, mundane things are the pegs on which my recovery hangs. Making sure I am turning up for my life in all the ways that count.

These things sound so unimportant and it’s easy to take them for granted, until I stop doing them and don’t know how to start again and get lost in the ever tightening spiral of carelessness that sees me sleep deprived and hungry and wearing the same clothes three days in a row, not because I want to be, but because everything else is too difficult. That’s when things get really bad, and I’m not there at the moment. So that’s good enough.

So I have been sad, horrifically sad. I have cried and cried and cried. And I can’t say it’s been great. It’s not how I would have wanted to spend my days, but that’s what happened, and that was what was real for me, and it was alright. And I got through it, and if it happens again, I’ll get through that. It won’t be pretty or graceful or Instagrammable. It won’t be comfortable, and yet it will be ok. And I have talked about it with my friends and my family and particularly my children, because it’s important.

When I was with my first husband and we were talking about having kids, he said to me (I paraphrase) ‘You’ll have to stop being mental if we have kids. You can’t pass your stuff on to them. You need to get well.’

It sounds brutal. It was. But to be fair to him, it was what had been haunting my own head. He was just brave enough to say it. I worried myself sick about having children and then being too mad to look after them, or worse, passing my madness onto them.

I didn’t really have a lot of choice about getting well at that point having said that, so that pep talk didn’t really help. I tried. I’ve always tried. I’ve been in and out of various therapies since I was seventeen. It wasn’t for the want of trying, but there really isn’t a magic wand for what ails me, at least not one I’ve found to date. So they had to put up with me as I was. I had to, too.

I had to do the best I could with what I had, and I have, I hope. And what I chose, given that a cure wasn’t an option, was to be as honest with them as I could (in an age appropriate way). I don’t hide my feelings from them. I don’t pretend or put a brave face on things. I figure that it’s important for them to know that things happen to people, emotions fill people up, and then things stop happening, and emotions change. Everything changes, even when it feels like it doesn’t.

It’s important for them to understand that ‘this too shall pass,’ and that it is ok to be human rather than super human, because one day that might be the most important thing I’ve ever taught them. I try not to see myself as broken, because if they ever feel like this, I want them to see themselves as perfect no matter what, because that’s what I see in them. I want to let them know that just being exactly how we are in this moment is good enough, even when it doesn’t feel like it. It’s hard for me to do, but it’s what I want for them, and so I try.

It’s important for me to let them see me dealing with my stuff, feeling my feelings and being their mum who loves them just the same on the bad days as on the good days.

And they’ve been brilliant and they’ve hugged me, and asked me if I needed anything and bought me tissue, and we’ve just carried on, with a bit more snot than normal.

And that’s good enough for me today.



47 responses to “All the Tears

  1. You are so strong for writing through the pain and difficulties! Keep writing! Thank you for sharing !

  2. There’s beauty and value in something that is broken, still.

  3. I felt equally blank after reading this post, not because I have nothing to say but because I have too much. I will confine myself to this, you are a wonderful person and a wonderful mother, you inspire people with your passion for life, your innate sense of justice and you make them laugh. You are honest and real and it doesn’t get much better than that, your children must be very proud of you. Xxx

  4. “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”
    Ernest Hemingway. The things that don’t kill us make us stronger, and we need to appreciate the broken bits whether they are stronger or still lovely in their brokenness.

  5. Keep showing up Katy and know that there are many of us out here who care, who are full of admiration for your braveness and wish for you to be well. We are all broken from time to time but as Johnners writes, broken is still beautiful…I think because it is human. Hugs xx

  6. I haven’t anything wise to say. Just wish I could give you a hug. X

  7. So much love for you right now xxx

  8. You could actually make that into a book…

  9. I just don’t know what to say, as I have only had a brief period of really being where you seem to have been for much of your life (post natal in my case). So all I can say I am one of the many people rooting for you. Thank you for sharing this.

  10. “I want to let them know that just being exactly how we are in this moment is good enough, even when it doesn’t feel like it. ”
    This is true for all of us, but we so often forget. Thank you for your wisdom and your honesty, and most of all, for your bravery in sharing. x

  11. I’ve been following you for some time but don’t think I’ve commented before. Just had to respond today to say how much I admire you. The way you keep going. The way you want to change things. The things you do.

    I know from what you’ve written that writing your blog helps you but it also helps some of your readers too. Thanks.

  12. What a beautiful piece of writing. Sending good vibes to you. Stay strong x

  13. As someone who has spent my fair share of time on the floor, curled up foetal fashion and soaking the carpet with tears and snot. I can honestly say that this is one of the sanest pieces of writing I’ve ever read.

    Yes, what you’re working through is bloody tough. And while you’re in that hell hole, it feels like there is no end to it. But there is, and when you get there, be sure to set up some rest and pamper time for yourself. Because you’ve earned it, and because the whole damn process is bloody exhausting!!

    The recovery process is 😰😰😰😴😴😊😊❤️

  14. Jacqueline Reilly

    What an inspirational lady you are! Children’s hugs and kisses are very healilng I’ve found. Let your tears do their healing too.

  15. Katy, you are strong and amazing and inspirational – on a bad day, no less – because you are so honest and committed to your life. I hope you feel like the well you soon, but have no doubt that the unwell you is equally impressive and loved. You are doing right by your children and all of us who read this. Love and cake xx

  16. It is so powerful to read your words – keep on keeping on – that is what you / one can do unless one takes the other option – isn’t it sad that someone so full of life and passion and love also gets to suffer so much but sometimes it is just what happens and fairness isn’t the issue really is it. I think the writing thing is powerful, i have written down my stuff of similar nature and its redemption on these sites and it is cathartic to read and write these stories – to know we re not alone, there are so many more brilliant brave people facing mental health issues each day, just like you do, just like i once did. THis too will pass one day but in the mean time keep telling us how brave you are and that you still want to keep buggering on xxx

  17. Sally Griffiths

    Thinking of you. I hope things get easier for you soon. xx

  18. Umm, so much all of this.

    You’ve just perfectly described the feelings I have on a regular basis that, while they’re not there all the time, flare up whenever the “mood” strikes and I have no idea why.

    I only discovered, in the last year or so, that my feelings had a name. And when I sat and looked back, I realised I had suffered with this for 20 years. I don’t believe you recover from depression. I do believe you learn how to deal with it, how to recognise the signs, how to manage when you’re having a bad time and how to bloody well enjoy when the times are good. This process is a slow one. I’m getting there. Accepting that I’m going to have these low times has actually made things far more manageable. Having that acceptance and the support of an amazing and understanding husband is making it so much more easy to deal with. I’m starting to find my low times don’t go on for as long as they used to because I don’t fight it – I just accept it.

    And then I make sure I enjoy the good times for as long as they’re around.

    Hugs x

  19. Katy

    I’m shy about public things, which is why I’m not simply commenting. I just wanted to tell you that I find you brave, and insightful. I admire what I have come to see of you through your blog, you sound like a really great person, one I’d love to sit and drink some wine with and have good chats.

    I’m writing (for the first time) just to wish you well. I have no solutions to offer, no fabulous therapy or remedy that will make you feel better. I have had a wonderful amazing life, that has been very tough and painful, all at various times. I’m absolutely blessed beyond belief that I have never suffered from actual depression, so my admiration for you comes tinged with a bit of, um, intimidation almost!

    Anyway, I just wanted to say, keep on keeping on. Thank you for all your honesty, and for sharing your thoughts and insights with a bunch of strangers.

    Sending you gentle healing hugs from Ireland,



  20. I love your honesty about the things you’re going through – it makes me wish I hadn’t chosen to hide the same sort of things for myself 😦
    Rather than being strong, no matter what, and dying inside, I could have been so much more open with my friends, and loved ones, because, in the long run, I see your way of coping with things – even if it is 3 steps forward, and 2 steps back – to be the right way of facing what you need to do, then getting on with life, despite it all – well done, you, for being so brave! 🙂

  21. Maya Angelou reading ‘And still I rise’. You’ve probably seen it before but it never fails to raise my spirits.

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