Before I begin, I want to start by saying that my wife is an incredible woman and no, she’s not reading this.
She’s the strongest and most beautiful, resilient, and dedicated person I’ve ever met. So it was a real shock when she agreed to marry me. She may not be reading this, but I would never write this without her permission.
Mental health matters
There was a period when my wife was in very poor health. Her mental health has been something she’s battled with for as long as I’ve known her and, while I’m happy to say that she’s on the road to a much better and happier life through better life choices, therapy, and medication, this was not always the way.
When our son was younger, my wife was often bedridden, sometimes even hospitalised, which meant that she missed out on a lot of the school runs, school trips, parent socialising as well as the various ‘firsts’ for our son. From his first day to his first friend, and everything in between.
She missed out on a lot and he missed out on having his mum there.
I learned a lot about a lot
So, how can I possibly make this about me? Well, grab a seat, get comfortable and I shall begin.
You see for me, the protagonist, this was a huge inconvenience. Had I known this is what I was signing up for, I don’t think I’d have bothered. See? She’s really not reading this.
No, truthfully it was a very difficult time for all of us and it taught me a lot about myself.
Good and bad. For the longest time, I was very selfish and resentful. I felt like there was no time for me to be sick - or to be anything at all really - as silly as that sounds. The entire world (the running of our house) rested entirely on my shoulders and if my shoulders were to give way, a little pain in my back or twinge in my neck at some stage - too bad.
There’s no time for that. There’s no time for me.
Most of that was nonsense anyway, my wife still did plenty around the house to help. Even when she could barely bring herself to get out of bed and face another human, she did.
Almost all of my struggle was internal probably because a lot of it was exaggerated in my head. Fatigue will do that to you. You get upset and angry about things that absolutely do not warrant it and then are left to pick up the pieces alone.
Feeling alone feels like the appropriate punishment too.
There's just no time!
There’s no time for me. I used to think this a lot and it’s easy to get caught up in it. Feeling like you’re alone and there are just too many people — very important ones at that — who are depending on you. You can’t be tired, you can’t be rundown, you can’t feel the stress, there’s no time for all that.
There’s no time for you.
Looking back on it now, I don’t know why I didn’t ask for help. I have a great support network of people who would have dropped everything if they knew I really needed them to. Maybe I didn’t want to show weakness. To them or to my wife and son. I needed my family to know that I was in control and there was nothing to worry about, I can handle this.
I didn’t want to add to my wife’s problems or to make my son think for a second that I was anything but the superhero I lead him to believe I was.
It's not over
There’s going to be more times like this ahead, of this I’m sure, and I’m scared too. It’s hard to watch someone you love struggle in a way you can’t fully comprehend. To watch on powerlessly. But those times, like the times before, shall pass and my son and I will get better at dealing with them together.
Because really, there is no time for me and that’s fine, that’s what this is. And I don’t need time for me when I’m blessed with this time for us.
Note from the Editor
If you're dealing with things and you're really going through it, please reach out and ask for help. Everyone needs an ear and if you feel there might be judgement or stigma from your immediate circle, reach out to any one of the amazing organisations set up to help you out. They are literally there because they know things are not always smooth sailing.
Mothers, fathers, grandparents and carers all face unique circumstances that they don't always know how to navigate. Please, reach out. There's no judgement here.
- Lifeline: 131 114
- Beyond Blue Support Service: 1300 224 636
- Mensline Australia: 1300 789 978
- National Breastfeeding Helpline: 1800 MUM 2 MUM (or 1800 686 268)
- Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA) Helpline: 1300 726 306
- Sane Australia Mental Health Helpline: 1800 187 263
- Pregnancy, Birth and Baby: 1800 882 436