Today I Am Grieving the Loss of an Easier Life Without Mental Illness
Today is stunning. Bright sun, blue sky. Monarch butterflies are hovering over the baby pink blossoms, competing with the bees that are ecstatically collecting pollen. Lawnmowers are out in force and the cut-grass-smell evokes nostalgic memories of idyllic summers past. The next-door-neighbor is water blasting his black Range Rover in the driveway. Dire Straights “Money for Nothing” – a classic summer tune – is playing as he soaps and scrubs.
I am sitting on the veranda of my house. It is a villa. Built in the very late 1800s, it has a wraparound porch with two sunrooms, one at either end. Sitting on this veranda – rain or shine – is one of the greatest joys of my life. I adore this house. It is my refuge and my love. I hope I never need to leave it. I sit far enough back on the porch that just my legs protrude out into the harsh sun while the rest of me is shaded by the curved tin roof. I am sitting in my second favorite chair. It is an enormous, ‘80s pink and gray armchair that is missing more fabric than it has left.
My favorite spot – an old La-Z-Boy that belonged to my grandfather — is currently occupied by my 4-year-old daughter. She is engrossed in my iPhone, switching between Peppa Pig and You Tube clips while she picks her fingernails. This habit, although it’s a habit she inherited from me, is quite irritating as shortly there will be a wail of “it’s bleeeeeding, Mum!” This will require plasters and possibly ice packs.
The veranda boards are painted dark brown. They have faded significantly over recent years, yet they have absorbed enough heat today to make them almost too hot to walk on. Maybe they need to be painted white?
A slight breeze is disturbing the branches of the two fan palm trees on the lawn. It sounds like those hanging door screens from the ‘60s — the ones with wooden beads that hang down in a curtain. I wonder if anybody still has those?
I sat here before I started writing this piece looking and listening and letting my thoughts wander. I’m currently amidst these wandering and random thoughts in this moment, writing. One thought slammed into my head and I needed to solidify it into writing. Mostly so I could see it and print it and read it again as if it was a revelation.
I am grieving the loss of an easier life.
It is not a complex thought nor is it going to change the lives of others. But it is the answer to me, at this moment. It is the answer to why I am endlessly confused, raging, heartbroken, guilty, chaotic, etc. I feel these things because I am grieving the loss of an easier life.
In my easier life I am not mentally ill. I do not have to take medication to keep my brain in balance. I don’t have to visit the doctor monthly because the medication is not working. I don’t have referrals to rural mental health teams and psychotherapists.
In my alternate easier life I’ve never had severe postpartum depression that turned into clinical depression that turned into bipolar II. In my alternate life I would have had three easy childbirths, not one good one and two nightmares. I wouldn’t have miscarried two babies this year in my parallel easy life. I wouldn’t have to decide between medications or more babies. I could get up every day and get dressed and have breakfast like anyone else without it being a conscious effort. I would be able to hold down a successful career and social life and be an amazing mum because I don’t have an illness that makes normalcy seem like a distant dream.
My children would never have to see me in bed crying for days in a row or miss out on the best mum ever because I can’t seem to rise to the occasion that day. They wouldn’t have to say, “Mum’s got a sore head” ever again or be late to school because I can’t get organized. I could drop them off at school every day in my easy life and even pick them up if I wanted to. I would never have to rely on the kindness of others to do this small job.
I could be a “proper” wife, who is able to contribute financially and do housework and have energy to play sports again. All the time. Every day! Without any fear I could wake up unable to do the most basic of self-care tasks, like brushing my teeth.
I could like myself and subscribe to all those empowerment blogs that encourage us to love ourselves, instead of never feeling like I’m enough of anything and having vague thoughts of leaving this world.
I am grieving the loss of an easier life.
At this moment, as I sit in the sun on my veranda, I’m not sure when the grieving will end.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.
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