I’ve thought about this post long and hard since before I first created my blog, “How does having a child with a neurological disorder affect relationships” How does Disability and Mental Health affect family life?
21% of families with a disabled child say that isolation has led to the break up of their family life.
Shortly after Olivia was born 4 years ago she developed NEC a serious condition we had never heard off. When we arrived at Saint Mary’s neonatal a consultant sat us down to explain as best they could. What was happening and why and what would likely follow in the next few days. My fight or flight response was high and all I wanted to do was run away.
The events that followed can bring people together but also have the power to rip them apart.
Michael and I at the time were 21 and 23 a few weeks earlier we had become first-time parents in the most unconventional way. Having a healthy child can put a huge strain on even the strongest relationships, deep inside me I knew this could potentially destroy us.
During the early days of Olivia’s traumatic birth and diagnoses, I didn’t speak about what was going on, as I couldn’t. We knew each day was progress but could drastically change. Every minute, Every hour for four months sat by her incubator barely uttering a single word to each other. The possibility of future family life far from reality.
I can’t say this made our relationship “Stronger” but Four years later we’re still here.
Some days stress levels are at an all time high but we work through any situation threw our way, I for one am incredibly grateful. Don’t get me wrong I myself am part of that 21% statistic. I have heard everything from people who should have been there with 100% support “It’s my fault Olivia is how she is”, “I was partying whilst pregnant”. I don’t think I need to or should have to defend myself from such silly accusations so I don’t. However it made me regress, I stopped talking about how I was feeling. I myself felt isolated the people I should be able to turn to with worries I couldn’t with fear of being judged. Without going into to much detail this led to a family breakdown.
With a non-disabled child, you feel isolated, with a disabled child that feeling is exacerbated. For the first couple of years of Olivia’s life, I had a lot to come to terms with. I had to put an enormous amount of things into place for her, Like the professionals involved in Olivia’s care. I’m constantly filling out forms, going to meetings, attending hospital appointments. On top of day to day care, herself and her little sister Sofiya require.
72% of people experience Mental ill health such as Anxiety, Depression & PTSD due to isolation.
Late last year I myself was diagnosed with Depression, put onto medication & shortly will receive counselling. I was too ashamed to admit I wasn’t coping and needed help. The stigma surrounding Mental health can make it harder to recover. The pressure of holding myself together, what my family would think stopped me from speaking up. The reality of disability is bigger than anyone can imagine.
We can’t go anywhere without researching in great detail beforehand. Olivia’s health & needs can change relatively quick.
Parenting doesn’t get easier, you just get better.
Of course, our life has been affected, given the circumstances, it’s bound to have been.
I’ve created a Google plus group where I’d love to create a community. Somewhere People can join together and share their Motherhood, Disability and Mental health experiences.