Updated: Nov 27, 2020
My partner returned to work this week after 5 months of furlough (did anybody actually know that word in February?) and he is worried about me.
He has good reason to worry, and to be honest I am worried too, because having him at home appeared to improve my general mental health. I have been more optimistic in my outlook, had no significant depressive or manic episodes and my anxiety was seldom seen.
On New Year's day this year I had to be hospitalized. Seemingly out of the blue, I became confused and paranoid, believing that my late grandmother had told me that taking an overdose of medication would probably be a good idea and could be the answer to the problems in the world. This was not a malicious intention by her (she was the sweetest soul) and I had no particular interest in killing or harming myself, which I suppose was an indicator that my thoughts were getting seriously f****d up.
I was given sedatives in a&e because I was becoming agitated and more paranoid, and when I got home from the hospital I took to my bed, groggy and now even more confused, and stayed there for a few days. I have few memories from this point onwards. I have been told that I was hallucinating, talking crap and drifting in and out of drug induced dozing.
The mental health services responded by coming to the house twice a day to sedate me further and eventually send me to a mental health unit 200 miles way. There were no available beds in my area or indeed in Wales full stop. Your NHS ladies and gentlemen.
Fast forward 3 weeks and I was home again, thinking clearly and ready to move on.
The whole family had been shaken up by my absence. My partner ended up taking 5 weeks off work altogether (we were very lucky he has supportive employers or that could have put us on the breadline) and our parents and friends were fantastic at stepping in to help out at home.
This all happened overnight, I enjoyed a family christmas with no obvious signs of stress.
And so it is now perfectly clear why my devoted partner is going to work each morning hoping that he won't come home to find that I am madder than a box of frogs.
I feel a lot of guilt and shame that he has to shoulder this as well as a job with long hours and the stresses and challenges of parenting 4 lively children.
It is not my fault. It is not his fault. It is not the fault of my well intentioned local mental health service. I cannot help but put some of the blame at the door of 10 Downing Street though, as all promises of cash injections and campaigns to improve the country's mental health services have disappeared into a heap of shite. Staff are left with no choice but to keep a lid on the problem with heavy sedation and then scour the country for hospital beds, often leaving it too late for patients and their families.
So we are trying to stay positive, do all the right things and, quite simply, hope for the best.