When I became a mother…lost and found

The day I tried to kill myself and ran away, I wrote a list on the notes section of my phone.

I wrote that I should never have had our son…because then I could escape. I wrote that I should never have married my husband, because then I could escape. At the time, I believed I was thinking clearly and my reasoning was, well, reasonable. The last part of my note was about my parents – you see, I acknowledged that if I was successful, I would be leaving them exposed to pain. That wasn’t my intention. The note ended with a simple sentence that I will never forget: I should never have been born.

I took an overdose shortly after the completion of said list and then ran away from the mental health unit I was attending daily. I didn’t get very far – in fact within just a few hours, having been reporting missing, I was found just a few miles away. In a fish and chip shop. Having already paid £3.15 (an online transaction that I only noticed days later) for…chips? Seems steep. Particularly as I’m fairly sure I didn’t enjoy the salty soggy delights before being carted off in an ambulance. I don’t remember any of this, or the man in the chippy (or woman – check your prejudices Zoe) – the stranger who probably, most likely, saved my life.

What I do remember is how I felt when I woke up in the hospital some 12 hours later: disappointment. Deeply, bitterly disappointed. A feeling – and a reaction – that will haunt my family and I for a long time.

It was then that I fully understood that motherhood had made me unsafe. That when I became a mother, I became a danger to myself. When I came out of the drug induced stupor, I didn’t want to see my son. I didn’t want to remember that I was a mother.  Because that meant I had to live.

I saw a friend a few months later, a friend with a refreshingly dark, brutal sense of humour. She asked me how I was. I replied: I’m still here. She said – with sincerity and warmth despite how it may appear: ‘and on reflection, are you pleased?’ Oh how we laughed.

When I became a mother, I started on a journey that would take me to the depths of despair and the darkest of places. Of course it wasn’t just this life changing event – my mental ill-health had been brewing beneath the surface for a long time, bubbling away with unhealthy emotional habits and terrible emotional hygiene (a phrase that still makes me cringe). But my son’s entry into the world (traumatic), the sleep deprivation (horrific) and the sick sense of constant scrutiny (not always realistic) was a powerful catalyst. However, despite what the first private psychologist suggested (she was a charmer), I loved my son from in-utero and I love him now: fiercely, deeply, wholly. I can acknowledge that my journey of motherhood  has had its challenges without feeling hopeless.

And everyday, along with much soul searching, support and effective medication, he reminds me that on reflection, I am pleased to be here. Very pleased indeed.

With the hugest thanks to Zoe for sending us her story. If you’re looking for support or someone to talk to, Mind charity and The Samaritans can help. We started this series as a way to share some stories and let people know about our gifts in the run up to Mother’s Day. It has become so much more, with amazing women wanting to share their heartbreaking, joyful and inspiring experiences. We highly recommend searching the hashtag on instagram, pouring yourself a hot drink and having a read.

If you would like to join in and share a story about motherhood, we’d love you to post a picture on Instagram, with the hashtag #whenibecameamother and tagging @dontbuyherflowers. You can find the details on our Instagram page. One person will be chosen at random to receive two Any Occasion Packages on Sunday 11th March. For more Mother’s Day gift ideas click here£1 of every package sold for Mother’s Day will go to charity Kicks Count. 

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3 thoughts on “When I became a mother…lost and found

  1. Sinead says:

    Oh my gosh Zoe, please feel proud for sharing that. Such a strong lady to be able to open up like that to a world of, effectively, insta-strangers.

  2. Kate says:

    Zoe, thank you for sharing your story. Last year I felt many of those thoughts. I’ve spoken about it a little but not in the brave way you have here. Thank you. Maybe I can judge myself a little less harshly now I know I am not alone.