Life Event: Mum with Chronic Illness

Parenting is a hard gig. What about when your health shakes, rattles and rolls out of control?

Meet Agnes

My favourite book or tv show I enjoyed in Primary school
I cannot remember a favourite book in Primary school as parts of my life are a bit of a blur. My illness has caused a lot of memory loss for me-which saddens me.

Overview of life’s events
Things started to unravel in my life when at high school. Stress, lack of sleep, school pressures, mistreatment at home and depression overwhelmed me. I desperately wanted to scream but was unable to. I struggled through high school but had a major breakdown while at university due to family conflict. I had numerous stays in the psych ward. I was given a poor prognosis. Over the years stays in the psych ward have significantly lessened due to medication, love and support from husband and my boys, friends and mental health physicians.

What is it like?
Days of not being able to tell what is real and unreal. Being overwhelmed and preoccupied with tormenting voices and visions. Being scared of people. Wanting to die to stop the torment. Overwhelming depression.

What was helpful at that time?
Two particular occasions stand out for me, but I have been supported on other occasions by other wonderful and caring people. The support and kindness of these two beautiful women from church was when I was unwell and at home with my baby boy and my husband was away for work. I was taken away to hospital. A woman from church took care of my baby boy while my husband raced back home. It was an eight hour trip for him to get home.
Another woman wrote me a beautiful letter of support and acceptance and spoke of Gods love for us all.

What was unhelpful?
Once people find out about my illness many are tentative to talk to me or completely ignore me. Many treat me differently-are a bit wary of me. They don’t trust me.

What would you like people to understand about you?
Please remember I am not defined by my illness. Its ok to ask me how I am going. Not to be afraid of me because I am strange at times. Hospital stays can be a long and a lonely experience- visits from family and friends may help and be welcomed. If you are a bit uncomfortable visiting by yourself maybe you could go in pairs. A letter of support or flowers can let them know you are thinking of them.

What ways could you help in current season?
Love and accept me even when my reality is out of whack. Provide support, love and reassurance to my family when things are difficult. Bring a meal around and a listening ear for my husband. Volunteer to take the kids out to let my husband have a much needed rest or be able to visit me without the kids. Most important is to pray for them.

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