We launched Blognonymous today and received a really warm-hearted welcome. Below is a story from an anonymous guest poster. She’d really appreciate your thoughts…
I just spent the weekend with my best friend from school days.
She has a little boy. He’s 15 months old. He’s hard work, but just in the way all 15 month old boys are.
She’s finding it tough. She’s working full time, it’s stressful having a baby to look after, a relationship with her husband to keep going, a job to do, a career to build.
I went to give her support. To be a shoulder to lean on, an ear to listen. I think it helped. She seemed happier. But she still feels sometimes that she shouts at her little boy more than she should, because he makes her angry. That small things push buttons. That she doesn’t like herself very much. That her life is just too hard and not much fun, and that she’s not worth much anyway. She worries about things. She’s stressed and finding it hard to cope. She had worries and struggles before the baby arrived too, but this has just compounded it.
The great thing is is that my friend is a new mum. People give her support. They understand that it is hard. That’s not the answer, but it’s a start.*
But what if her husbands’ friends told him he should leave her? That she was being unreasonable? That she should pull herself together and get a grip? Be a grown up, do what she should do?
Yeah, I didn’t think so either. But it wouldn’t be the first time someone has said similar to me.
Because this weekend I realised that my best friend and my husband have more in common than I thought.
He has a little girl. She’s 18 months old. She’s hard work, but just in the way all 18 month old girls are.
He’s finding it tough. He’s working full time, it’s stressful having a baby to look after, a relationship with his wife to keep going, a job to do, a career to build.
I think my husband has been suffering from depression, or anxiety, or both, for several years. I don’t know, because he’s never seen a doctor about it.**
He struggles to be out of his comfort zone. He copes badly with noise, with uncertainty, with worry. He frets over who might move into the house next door to us, which is up for rent. He worries if he sees extra cars in the street, because somebody might be having a party, and that might mean there will be noise late at night. He misses out on social events, because he’s concerned over how we’ll get home.
He loves our little girl, and she loves him. But he worries. If we were to take her overnight somewhere, without a thermometer, paracetamol and nurofen, he would panic all night that she had a fever. We take extra sleeping bags, just in case she is sick in the night, or its warmer or colder than we thought. He gets stressed when she cries. He gets angry when she’s unreasonable, when she throws her food. She’s only 18 months.
There’s a part of me that wants to say to him “pull yourself together, sort yourself out. You’re the grown up here”. It’s really hard for me too. I have all the same stresses and strains, and the lion’s share of the childcare commitments. I don’t get support at home, I give it. I have to gloss over reasons why we don’t go places, which we don’t do things. I don’t want people to think ill of him, so I make excuses. And that frustrates me. For more than one reason.
Because there’s a big part of me that recognises that he is suffering. I love him. He’s not the man I married, but I still love him. He knows that his reactions aren’t normal, that other people don’t feel this way. But he doesn’t know how to control it, how to deal with the stress. If our roles were reversed, people would be looking out for me, for signs of depression, and supporting me.
Instead they tell him to be a man.
* and she’s also receiving counselling and support from her health visitor and GP.
** I have. They have suggested I contact a relate counsellor. I haven’t done it yet. But I probably will.