Coming Back to Life (Part 1)

Today’s post is a particularly heart-rending one. The subject is absolutely not specific to parenthood where there’s mental illness involved, and it’s very much about motherhood universally. It’s brutally honest yet beautifully written. It’s also incredibly brave – by being so open with us, the author has made herself vulnerable, it’s a big risk to take emotionally. Usually we’d welcome debate in our comments; this time, if there’s any trolling, I will delete the comment/s as swiftly as possible. That said, I’m hoping for lots of comments. (blahpolar) 

Coming back to life

The road from Saldanha Bay to the Northern suburbs of Cape Town was a long one. For someone going through their fourth onset of depression this year, it was even longer. My husband and I were en route to a clinic I hadn’t  been to before, but was promised the support I needed. We stood outside the entrance of the clinic for a second and breathed in the realization that this would be my second hospitalization this year.

I was letting my family down again. Thoughts like these chewed on me as we walked towards the entrance. My husband opened the the door, and I crept in – wounded and raw. We then walked over to the receptionist who got all the paperwork ready for signatures and medical aid cards. In a matter of minutes we were whisked away to my room. Imagine dark wood, two single beds neatly pinned against the walls. Crisp white bedding and pillows graced the bed. The bathrooms were spotless and decorated with earthy mosaic tiles. Imagine a four star hotel – this was it. A place of wellness with all the window dressings you needed to have to be comfortable.

But I didn’t want comfort. I wanted life again, and to be sane in it.

It was time to say goodbye.

With the tears flowing down my face, we kissed and were saddened by me being here and saddened by me being ill again and even more saddened that I had bipolar disorder. Its monstrous effects crept in on us when we didn’t need it to. Not that we ever need it to.

Quotes by South Africans about bipolar disorder

I was led to the dining hall to eat breakfast. My eyes filled with more tears as the kitchen staff served me. “Don’t mind me,” I dismissed my feelings.

“It’s okay,” he said sweetly and set down a plate in front of me.

What was okay? That I was in this situation again and deserting my husband to fend for himself?

That thoughts of killing myself had been plaguing me – with plans and all?

That ideas of hurting my children came to the fore and scared me so much?

I was angry and frustrated.

I couldn’t answer him. I ate at the cold eggs and soft toast unwillingly, but I didn’t want to ask where the microwave was because I was too weepy. I didn’t want to be a burden to someone else as well.

I should have read the warning signs. Okay. I should have done something before it got to this point. The point where I’d been merely existing and life had been passing me by. I recall being in bed all day, not eating then suddenly binge eating at night, not getting dressed, not showering. It starts with one day and you end with a string of days where you feel listless, drained and hopeless. It’s usually a slow process, but we still find ourselves surprised at how fast everything goes down.

Quotes by South Africans about bipolar disorder

After breakfast, I was called in for my first therapy session.

“OK, tell me about why you’re here?” She asked. I had just met her but her sense of warmth soothed me instantly.

I wanted to hurt my child.

I remember telling her how when all my frustration and anxiety would build up and explode. And on that one day – the irritation turned into something dangerous and possessed my hand. I felt it cover the baby’s mouth as he screamed. He screamed and screamed.

Just to shush him.

Just to stop the nagging, the constant crying.

“Why are they crying and why won’t they stop?” kept spinning in my mind. Round and round like dust and rubble in a vicious tornado. This tornado of rage destroying every bit of good and love and motherly tenderness I had.

I take another sip of wine.

Nothing could take that edge off or shake this feeling. Me the anti-mother, like the antichrist here, filled with evil.

At the same time, I was hurting, feeling the burden of immense guilt.

What kind of mother was I?

In that moment, I felt like I was a bad mother.

A reckless one.

A murderous one.

I explained it all, every detail painfully leaving my trembling lips. My therapist looked at me and said, “But this is normal.” She explained that sometimes stay at home moms are so drained and are often driven into situations where they display rage and hurt their children. Although I never hurt my children, I thought about it. I wanted to. No I didn’t. I don’t know what I wanted. How could I want to hurt them if I love them so much? It’s just so shameful and knew I carried that shame.

So after talking and lots of crying, we devised a plan to find out where these feelings were coming from and where the guilt and shame originated. Guilt and shame are secondary feelings which you feels if you’ve suppressed primary feelings like anger or disappointment. Turns out I’ve got a lot of soul searching and exploring to do on this front.

Does this excuse my actions?

I don’t know.

And it’s not up to you to decide either.


27 responses to “Coming Back to Life (Part 1)

  1. Reblogged this on blah fucking polar and commented:

    This post gets deep into my heart and for once, I have no qualms about saying it made my eyes leak. Please reblog it, if you wouldn’t mind, and comment too. Thank you very much. And to mother’s everywhere, much love and respect, you are beautiful people. Strongs!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Thanks to Blah for re-blogging this and bringing to my attention. A double huge thank you to the original author for her courage! I’m not a mom; never really wanted to be. My relationship with my own mom was too screwed up for me to want kids of my own. But I AM trying to understand why that was, and this post helped put a piece of the jigsaw puzzle into place. It’s very easy for me to think only about me, me, me, and disregard my mother as a person. Your story helped remind me that mom had feelings and frustrations and problems all her own. Thanks.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Thank you for being brave enough to share your story. You are so not alone. Its like you wrote my own story. (((((hugs)))))

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Pingback: Coming Back to Life (Part 1) | SassaFrass, The Feisty·

  5. Oh honey, you are not alone. It is so much more common than we know, I know that now, I didn’t when it was me, and I too know the shame and the guilt, the horror of rage and anger against the most precious beings in your life. You got yourself to a good place to heal, and you’ll get it under control. Your love is what will remain and be remembered, I promise! It was for me, I got scared too, so many mums go through this, not enough talk about it. The love is immense but the desperation and the overwhelming feeling can suddenly be immense too! You are not to blame, you were brave to get to the place you are now. Be well xxx

    Liked by 3 people

  6. You inspire me. Thank you for sharing your experience with us; as a mother who has been hospitalized seven times for bipolar disorder, my heart goes out to you.

    Liked by 4 people

    • From author:

      Thank you very much for your kind words. I can’t even imagine what you had to go through with each hospitalization. Your strength shines through every line of encouragement you gave me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yesterday I realized it was the exact day I was discharged from the 1st hospitalization; it was sobering to reflect. You and I are strong together – I don’t say that to brag; God knows neither of us wanted to be strong as a result of going through the fire; it’s simply the truth! sending you big (((hugs)))) & keep writing!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for sharing. I’m a dad with bipolar. I have often had violent thoughts of hurting loved ones including my children. I know the guilt and horror you can feel at those thoughts. Remember that they are just thoughts, can be symptomatic, and don’t really reflect who you are. The fact that you are horrified proves they are not you and are alien. Also, I think it’s linked to the terrible realization of how responsible and powerful we are and scared at our potential for violence. As strange as it sounds, a therapist pointed out that I was so afraid and ashamed of these thoughts… but also that it showed I truly did love the ones I had thoughts of hurting.

    Liked by 2 people

    • From the author:

      You sound like my therapist: “Remember that they are just thoughts, can be symptomatic, and don’t really reflect who you are”.

      Thanks for the insight- it makes sense that this shame would only live inside me because I love them so much. You brought me to tears today, and I thank you for that.


  8. This was so very brave. Like really really brave. Like the bravest of the brave. This is the rawest and realest it can get.

    in awe admiration and respect


  9. Pingback: Stoopid | Billy in Blunderland·

  10. Reblogged this on my spanglish familia and commented:
    This is what we don’t talk about: hurting our children. I honestly don’t believe most of us want to hurt our children. Motherhood, especially while experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder, is extremely stressful. My dear readers please offer this beautiful and brave mother your support and maybe any strategies that have worked for you. Please be kind.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I wish the author believed what the therapist’s response was. I work in a postpartum neonatal unit, and I often see new mothers ready to shake their babies from sheer exhaustion…and that’s just in the first 24 hours of their child’s life. Having the constant heaviness of being a mom wears at all mothers. Much love to the author.

    Liked by 1 person

    • From the author:

      Thanks very much for commenting. Although I know it’s normal, the guilt eats at me. I’m trying so hard to work through it. But it’s difficult when you see other mothers not frustrated and at their wits end. They live the romance and I live the horror.

      Thanks again for your warmth and kindness.


  12. Reblogged this on Yve's Corner and commented:

    This post is full of raw, gut wrenching emotion. And all because it comes from the heart.

    A mother struggles with her emotions and inner turmoil as she finds herself having thoughts of wanting to hurt her own children.


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