A word of advice: keep your comments to yourself when someone is having a bad day. You don’t know if it’s their first, or if it’s the latest in a long string of many.
Bit of a backstory: I have mental health issues. It started when I was 13, to be diagnosed as clinical depression when I was 18, which turned into postnatal depression after boy-child was born. I’ve been doing okay. I’ve been off the antidepressants now for 6 years, and haven’t felt the need to go back to my therapist. But, truth be told, the past 12 months have been pretty hard for me, and I am getting sick and tired of the “helpful” advice people seem to dish out so easily.
My cat died in August. She was 13, and the first pet Hubby & I got as a couple. She’s moved around with us, and was a comfort when I was at my lowest, always there to give me a cuddle, even if she was affectionately known as Satan in Fur due to her bad temper.
“Oh, it’s just a cat.”
No. No, she wasn’t “just a cat”. She was a member of my family, and if I want to grieve for her, I’ll fucking grieve. Take your cat-hating arse out of my life.
Then girl-child started secondary school. This was huge for me.
“They all have to go eventually. You’re just being silly.”
To cut a long fertility-issue story short, girl-child was born 8-weeks premature by emergency c-section after she went into foetal distress. She was born very poorly and given a 40% chance of survival. But, we somehow managed to get to September 2018, with girl-child and all her allergies and health complications, getting ready to go to secondary school. It was one of the proudest days of my life, but seriously hard on my mental health.
Then the other cat got a bladder infection, and the rising vet bills meant I couldn’t finish paying for Nibbler’s cremation, so her ashes were stuck at the vets. Oh, and then the guinea-pig got an abscess, only he couldn’t just have an abscess, noooo…. he had to have a complicated abscess which came with a £120 price tag and a 50:50 chance of survival. Fabulous.
“But it’s just a guinea-pig. Have it put to sleep! It’s cheaper.”
Cram it. He’s not just a guinea-pig, he’s girl-child’s guinea-pig, and his name is Dave. I am not the kind of person who can have an otherwise healthy animal destroyed for the sake of money.
ANYWAY… we got through that. So the vet’s bills are paid, and Nibbler’s ashes are on the shelf where they belong. Girl-child is getting on really well with secondary school, she’s made lots of new friends and is excelling in all her classes. But wait!
Did I mention she has health complications?
Let’s bring in Scarlet Fever, tonsillitis, and a new food allergy! Welcome to the party guys! Cue nearly 2 weeks off school plus more doctors visits. Turns out, she not only had an intolerance to dairy that’s so severe the doctors think she’d be better off if was a mild allergy (there’s a difference, look it up), but now she has an allergy to eggs too. But not just eggs. No. Only ones that aren’t cooked properly. So, she can have a cake, as long as it’s dairy-free, but not a fried egg. Get the picture? Yeah… okay. Doable.
“So what? Go vegan!”
Except, what if something has raw egg in it and we don’t know? It happens… can we get an Epipen in case she goes into anaphylactic shock instead of just a severe itching? No. For that she needs to have a blood test to prove 100% it’s raw eggs she’s allergic to.
“Oh, it’s only a blood test. Tell her to get over it!”
Except, girl-child is phobic of needles, and I mean properly phobic, not a little bit scared. Freaks out, takes three people to hold her down, shakes, cries, and goes a funny shade of purple phobic. So nope. Not putting her through that. We’ll just have to be super careful of what she eats.
Where are we? Oh, we’re in February. Fabulous. The past six months have been sheer hell. It can only get better, right?
Let’s throw in the usual money stresses, and a car breaking down. And let’s make it so bad that the only way to get it back on the road is to cancel the holiday to Turkey – the only thing we had left to look forward to. Oh, but make sure it’s not so bad it has to be written off, that way the insurance company can claim it’s nothing to do with them, and they don’t have to pay for it.
“Oh, but it’s only a car and holiday. We haven’t been on holiday for years! We just take a caravan / go camping / something else.”
Actually what I needed you to say is: “I’m so sorry it’s all going a bit shit. Would you like a cup of tea and a shoulder?”
So, cat’s dead, girl-child is growing up, other cat is on expensive special food, guinea-pig is still not out of the woods, the car is dead, and the holiday is cancelled… Fan-fucking-tastic.
Because of all this, I missed a couple of months of flea treatment. Bring in the infestation. Of course, I went out and got flea treatment, and blitzed the house. But did you know that for every flea there are probably 1000 eggs? And they’re all in your sofa, and in the carpets, and in the beds, waiting for the perfect time to hatch.
We’ve sprayed the house, and got rid of them now, but not before girl-child and I were bitten to shit (why not Hubby and boy-child??). I mentioned the health complications right? Yeah, well, we can add flea bite allergies to both our lists. Nothing too serious, but apparently even a double dose of antihistamines does fuck all for the incessant itching.
“You should get some citronella. Fleas hate that.”
Uh-huh. Now, I love my essential oils. In fact, I am a holistic therapist (Facebook page: HERE), but did you know that some essential oils are highly toxic to cats and guinea-pigs? Namely, the ones that kill fleas.
Then today happened. And my phone died.
It’s only a phone, and I know that. I’m not actually upset about the phone. I’m upset about the fact that just when I think things are starting to settle down, something else is thrown at me. And when I try to complain, all I get is advice on what phone I should get, or what network I should join, or how I should enjoy the time I’m not attached to it.
“How do you think we coped before mobiles existed?”
Thanks, but I lived through the 90s without one. I do remember. The problem is, you don’t realise how attached to technology you are, oh person who was born in the 60s/70s. And you are, because you’re reading this. On your computer or phone.
I’m sat on my laptop writing this, unable to contact anyone who isn’t online on Facebook, because all my numbers are in that phone. Who memorises numbers nowadays? So, I can’t even ring my mum. I can’t Whatsapp the fitness group or my best-friends for a bit of moral support. I can’t even check my calendar to see what I was supposed to be doing between now and when I’m due to get a new phone. I can’t text the cricket club to double check practice is on this week, what with it being half term.
I’ll survive, I know I will. It is only a phone.
Except it’s not.
It’s the final straw of a very long and emotionally exhausting year.
“Look on the bright side…” I’m aware that I’ve had happy moments in the past 12 months. I’ve had new books come out, we’ve organised to camping with the Scouts and Cubs and call it a family holiday, the car is now on the road again, the animals that are still alive are healthy. But that doesn’t make everything that’s happened suddenly disappear.
“Have you tried…” is the worst question anyone could ask me right now, because quite frankly, yes I probably have. And it hasn’t worked!
Mental health issues suck. I will get over this, and I will be fine. My new phone is on its way, the bills have all been paid, I have a roof over my head, and my children are healthy. But right now, today, I’m not okay.
I don’t need your unhelpful helpful advice. I need you to tell me what a great job I’m doing keeping it together. I need you to tell me how I’ve made it this far.
I need you to stop trying to tell me what I should and shouldn’t be doing, and just stick the kettle on, make me a cup of tea, and let me cry.