You used to say I was a closed book, that I never told you what I felt. We laughed about it sometimes, said "that’s what we do because we’re English". Keep calm and carry on. Stiff upper lip, what what. We drink enough tea for the stereotype to stick. We even have crumpets.
That didn’t change when I got older, but leaving home had made it easier for me to tell you I was fine. You weren’t there to see my face and I got used to lying down the phone. I didn’t mention how I wasn’t happy, and how I didn’t know why. I didn’t mention I was frightened. I didn’t say how many times I’d been to the hospital when I thought my heart would stop, only to be told I was just having another panic attack and sent back home. I didn’t mention that I didn’t know how to handle any of it, how I didn’t understand why it was happening.
I still haven’t told you, but I want to. I want to tell you that I did go to the doctor eventually, that I have anxiety, and depression, and something that makes me go from hysterical excitement to this inconsolable sadness with nothing in between. I really want to tell you.
But I’m so ashamed, Mum. I’m so embarrassed that I haven’t been able to cope with things like you have. I feel selfish because I haven’t had a difficult life, and none of this is your fault, and isn’t it pathetic that I complain about being unhappy when I’ve had it so much easier than other people? I feel weak, and I hate it. That’s partly why I’m struggling to tell you. I don’t want you to think I’m weak.
But I also don’t want you worrying. You’re my mum and I know it’s part of your job to worry for your kids, but I really don’t want you to. This won’t be like the time I broke my leg. It won’t be like the time I hit my head. It isn’t going to be fixed by a bandage and a hug and a cup of tea. It’s going to take a lot longer this time, and I don’t want you to feel you have to fix me. I wouldn’t say no to a hug, though. Or a cup of tea.
I want to tell you and I think you’d want to know. I think you’d want to look after me and I really wouldn’t mind being looked after a little bit right now. I want you to tell me I’ll be fine. I want you to tell me that everything will be ok because I’m really, really scared, Mum. I don’t know what I’m doing some days. I don’t know where I lost it. And I’m so tired.
But I want you to know that I am doing something about it. I’m still trying. I’m seeing the doctor and I’m telling you this, and you know it took more courage to write it than to keep it hidden. I don’t think you’ll be ashamed of me.
So don’t worry too much, Mum. I’m working on it.
Love, C. xxx