The Perfect Family. Wednesday February 1, 2017
[To listen to an audio version of this blog, please click here: https://soundcloud.com/user-231831520/sets/the-perfect-family-playlist]
I think many of us are guilty of looking at other people and thinking they've got it all worked out.
I'm as guilty of it as anyone. My studio, where I work and see clients is right at the back of the house. While it is possible to direct my clients through the garden to enter by the French Windows, I'm never quite sure they will make it, or if the rampant grapevine and killer roses will get them first. So I take them through my house, apologising all the way for the mess and clutter.
"You call this messy?" They say kindly. "You haven't seen my house!"
But in my mind, everyone else lives in immaculate Ideal Home décor, with never a cushion out of place, and certainly not with wetsuits draped like sad selkie skins over every sofa, precarious piles of paperwork precipitating off the dining room table; the floor scattered with bucolic guinea pig hay...
Some of you may think that my family and I have it all worked out emotionally. After all, how could I dare write for you if I didn't?
Did you hear that? Yes – that was the sound of hollow laughter echoing round the depths of despair.
My husband and I were talking yesterday about the price that is paid by my family when I am ill. He called it a disaster area.
Oh, I'm alright. When I am a jellied lump of misery, clinging to the sofa like some stranded sea anemone, I am not aware of anything except my own suffering. It is my family who have to pick up my jettisoned duties and carry on some semblance of normal life.
It is my husband who has to take on all the taxi work; running the girls to sailing, to trampoline club, to badminton, to swimming. It is he who has to pick up the hoover before the colour of the carpets is a mere memory; he has to sort laundry and do ironing.
My elder daughter takes on my role of mother to all of us. She worries about, encourages and cares for us all. She organises me (I am grateful); She organises her sister (who resents it). At fourteen, this is too much; her stress levels go through the roof.
My younger daughter suffers most. Being highly empathic, she finds it difficult to cope with my depression. For her it is almost infectious. She grieves over it and tries to make me smile. Fake smiles don't fool her and so she feels even worse.
I am well again now, and for now, but the price is still being paid. The family walk on eggshells around me. They are reluctant to cede the roles they have taken on back to me. And so I feel guilty.
There has to be a better way of managing this illness, so my family don't suffer. I hope these new pills work. If they don't, I won't stop looking. I can't.
A Moodscope member.
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