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Being a parent with mental health
By M. Strong

In 1982 I stood in the court dock listening to the damning report of the Social Worker read by the barrister stood there in black cloak and wig before the judge.

It didn’t matter that all the social worker wanted was to jump into bed with me and not able to hack it when he was rejected. Promises, promises he’d made of how I would get my kids back who were in a Children’s Home up until that fateful night when shocked at his indecent proposal I slammed the front door in his face, the tears flowing. He left his job shortly before the court hearing. It didn’t matter to them about these 10 years I had brought up my little girl and boy practically alone as their father put work before anything else leaving really early in the morning arriving home late. Everything changed when we moved into this beautiful house and made lots of new neighbours who became good friends. I was just like them nurturing, loving, caring for their children taking and bring then to and from school then getting a part time job to help their father not having to work long hours. I was on cloud nine. Until that fateful night- the party. Yes we were forever having parties in each others homes any excuse, birthdays anniversaries, New Year, drinking, dancing with each others husbands each others wives all quite innocent except for this one. I felt a twinge of jealousy as I watched them my best friend and husband dancing close and kissing but I dismissed it waking next day without a thought. But it was the beginning of a relationship which burst my bubble and destroyed our lives. He would come home from work to his cooked dinner then rush off around the corner to be with her as her husband had started working nights. Retuning early hours of the morning I would lay in bed awake waiting. It carried on I asked questions, then we rowed he refused to stop seeing her every night even our friendly neighbours thought something was not right. Then in sheer desperation I took a massive overdose-m I should have been dead in fact I did- I floated down that tunnel towards that bright light. I was found the next day. By this time we slept separately, he’d got the children of to school and himself to work not knowing. That was it I went into a psychiatric hospital was sectioned, declared mentally ill. Was it the overdose? I don’t know but after I began to hear voices. When I was allowed home things still were not right he continued to see her and the rows continued. Eventually he left me alone with the children not to her as she was still married but to a flat of his own, yet he still saw her every night. I’d come off my medication but after a awhile could not cope and a Social Worker was called in. He was so kind but not what I wanted I just wanted my husband back and the wonderful life we had back. The judge then wavered that the children should be in custody of their father who sat there in the courtroom. I’d spent two years in and out of hospital section after section. I just wanted so much to have my happy life back. Then came the day in hospital when I met my second husband three months together there we were inseparable and on leaving, we kept in touch by letter. I now lived in a bed and breakfast and after Mother’s until finally after meeting a few times I moved in with him. But I always kept in touch with my children as I was given access. There were two bus journeys away I saw them at the house I once lived. Nothing had come of his relationship with my so called friend he discovered she was seeing other men now and her husband had left her. Ironic but tragic. By now, I was on an injection and diagnosed as manic-depressive. Then my daughter was born in 1988 and I was elated. Sadly her father could not cope and rows and beatings began until when she was three I got her out of a bad situation and moved in with my now third husband. I did a stupid thing and came off my medication and nearly lost my daughter and was taken back into hospital. Was the same thing going to happen to my third child? No I knew I must fight- yes and stay on medication which I did and she has been brought up and grown into a lovely young lady to be proud of. My grandchildren from my oldest daughter would often stay with us when they were little and during school holidays. So tell me if I was so bad a mother how am I now looked upon in a different manner. Never coming off medication I know I can cope with life. I feel I have proved myself to be a good parent through the good and bad times.