I went for a walk: Let’s talk about mental health.

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Last week, I spent a couple of days in my pyjamas. I didn’t shower. I didn’t set foot outside the door. I shut off social media. I did just what I had to do to take care of myself and the boys. I cried. A lot. And I wondered if my boys would be better off without me. This is depression. This is being in an emotional rut where the walls of that deep-seated rut start to crumble in upon you. Here in Ireland, we are slowly beginning to talk about mental health and depression, but when it comes down to it – when a friend shows all the signs of depression or actually says aloud they need help – do we reach out a helping hand? 

Let’s just say, I think we have a long way to go in this regard.

We need to keep talking about it. And, we need to learn what to say in return.

Two friends contacted me to see if I was ok. No, frankly, I wasn’t. And I’m still trying to climb out of those crumbling walls. But I will, because I must, for the sake of the boys. Having said that, my physical health is also taking a toll on me with anxiety, stress and depression only adding into the mix. I’m often trembling. I’m in chronic pain with arthritis and degenerative discs in my back. I can’t sleep well. I have intermittent chest pains and increasing issues with the PSVT, diagnosed years ago, as it’s getting more frequent and noticeable. My rheumatoid arthritis is kicking up again, and with it, secondary restless leg syndrome that makes it hard to fall asleep at night. (I’m a mess, right?!)

I need to get both my physical and my mental health into shape. And quickly. 

Now that Brendan’s pressure sore has recently healed, I am going to see if he can tolerate attending school a couple of partial days a week. Truth be told, I need it more than he does. Summer is fast approaching and I won’t have any chance of getting out on my own for a walk once it’s here.

Today, though, I went for a walk.

Brendan Bjorn is away for 2 nights of respite at a centre, which, by the way, he will only be able to attend until the end of September. (He turns 14 on October 1st and HIQA doesn’t allow 14 year olds to be in respite with younger children. Seems ridiculous considering the fact my son can’t hold anything in his hand, can’t walk, can’t talk, can’t even scratch an itch. So anyway, that will be the end of that overnight respite.)

Back to the walk

I took Thor, my wonderful, furry companion, for a long walk along the river today. It was grey and overcast with a cool, soft breeze. My God did it feel great to be outside! Free. Exercising. Breathing crisp, fresh air. Being in nature. I miss it so very much! And as I walked along, thinking of everything happening in my life, I realised I need this as much as I want this. 

Sadly, it isn’t going to be able to happen all that often. There isn’t any in home respite nursing available (haven’t had any since last summer), and even if there was, the Loco Parentis clause is now restricting parents from leaving the nurse alone in their home during “respite” – so there is no true respite. *Feel free to contact your local TD about this issue, please.*

I wonder, how am I going to get this much needed time walking? 

The answer is, I probably won’t get it very often. The walk today left me wanting more. Much more. But like the taste of sweet forbidden fruit, it was just a tease…a cruel tease…and one which I know I won’t be able to taste again for some time to come. And that realisation makes those fragile walls crumble just ever so slightly again.

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