Friday, 17 April 2009

Mental Illness.

I think it is probably time for me to go back to my life story. The last post that I wrote on this was some time ago now, all about the couple of years when I gave birth to my two gorgeous children. They are 8 and 9 years old now, so quite a lot has gone on since their arrival. I mentioned before that my husbands father died shortly after my first born appeared. This was sudden and very tragic. He and my mother in law had already separated before I met my husband. They formally separated on their 40th wedding anniversary. As I have learnt more about their family life it is obvious that mental health was always an issue.

After their separation (instigated by my m-i-l) she proceeded to have a breakdown requiring her to be admitted to hospital. I met her approx 18 months after her hospital admission. She was reasonably stable if not a little eccentric at times. She was fully able to look after her grandchildren (from husbands sister) during school holidays etc, moved into a lovely flat and was still continuing with some services to keep her well.

My husbands father went on to re-marry the same year that we did, and remained with his new wife in the old family home.

There was always a bit of tension about all this when in the presence of family members, but things seem to settle down reasonably. That is until the death of my f-i-l. Actually it was some months after this. I was already pregnant with my second child. It started with reports from step m-i-l of strange goings on in her home (the old family home). Petty vandalism really, pots knocked over, etc. Then came the demands for furniture that m-i-l saw as belonging to her and not to this stranger living in her old home.

I have to confess that I was quite oblivious to this a lot of the time. Having a growing toddler and getting heavier and heavier in my second pregnancy. The turning point was when I went into labour. We had arranged for m-i-l to come and look after my son while I was in hospital. I was in labour for approx 16 hours, during which time, m-i-l kept ringing the hospital (the nurses had a discreet word with my husband). There was a very worrying couple of hours when we discovered that we couldn't get through to her as our home phone was continually ringing engaged prompting us to have to get a friend to go and check that everything was ok. It turned out that she had just not replaced the receiver correctly - a sign of things to come it turned out.

In the months that followed, my life felt like a nightmare, I was struggling to cope with two little ones, my sister by this time had moved into her own home and was requiring lots of support from my parents who were still the main carers for her daughter. My husband was really not enjoying his job, we were all still grieving the loss of his dad. On top of this it became very apparent that m-i-l was extremely mentally unwell. She was eventually diagnosed with bi-polar disorder however unlike her previous breakdown, this time she wanted no treatment. My step m-i-l and ourselves (both closest in proximity) were the main targets of her anger at life.

This sent me into a very deep depression. I was too scared to answer my own phone or door. Many occasions of her walking past my front window would see me scuttle into the garage to hide with the children (my arthritis was bad so getting up the stairs was not an option). Fortunately I had an excellent GP and health visitor who got me on medication very quickly. It was during this period that we decided actually we were going to move. I was no longer required as I had been for the last 18 months to continue helping with my sister as she was getting settled. There were new work opportunities opening up for my husband in the south, if we didn't take this opportunity then we would eventually be relocated 200 miles further north to a very dreary part of Scotland. All in all from interview to move we went 200 miles south in 4 months. But that is enough for today. This was hard to write but I do have the full permission from my husband who is sitting here with me trying to remember the sequence of events.

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