I’m drowning.

The house is dirty and untidy. We need a new vacuum cleaner, but there is no money for one. There is a pile of unfolded sheets on the couch that’s been there for months. The couch in my room is covered in clean clothes that need folding and putting away, some of which have been there for more than a year. The teenager’s room smells like something has died in there.

I know, it’s appalling.

I had a tooth pulled out two weeks ago and it’s not healing like it’s supposed to, resulting in constant unbearable pain from the “dry socket”. The internet told me to go back to the dentist, so I did today, and apparently there’s no infection just a lot of trauma from the extraction, so it’s taking longer to heal than normal. Seriously, though, it is taking away my will to live.

I don’t know why I’m not getting better. My mental health, despite much work and learning, is the pits. I have no energy and no motivation to do the simplest things. I do keep the kids fed and, despite what I said above, the house clean enough to keep the rats and cockroaches at bay, but this is not the ideal of motherhood I had in mind when I first thought of me as a mother.

Things feel extraordinarily hard. They are not, but they feel that way. I feel like I’m wading through molasses. Getting out of bed and showering feel insurmountable, but I do it nearly every day. Sometimes, like yesterday, it might be 5 pm before this happens, but at least it does happen. It hasn’t today.

I want a personality transplant. Or maybe a mood transplant? A whole head transplant. I don’t want this depression any more, I don’t want these chronic headaches and all the medication I’m on any more. My psychologist calls it “willfulness”, because I refuse to accept what is. I’m supposed to be practicing “radical acceptance”, but it’s so goddamn hard, when I look at my life and it’s nothing like I once imagined it would be.

There are so many things I am meant to be doing to help myself — exercise for one, and practicing all these ACT strategies I have learnt, like mindfulness and acceptance. But I’m being willful and mostly I just try to fill my brain with the internet or games, so I don’t have to deal with the real world.

The only real break is work. It’s not always terribly exciting, but it gives me a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Otherwise my life is filled with kid noise, cooking and housework. I’ve forgotten joy. I don’t know how to have fun. What is fun? Blogging used to be fun. Taking photos to go with the posts, editing them, thinking of captions for social media. I used to blog so much!

The constant headaches don’t help. The medication to help with the headaches doesn’t help with energy levels. It’s a chicken and the egg situation.

I don’t know what to do.

I saw a neurologist at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne a few weeks ago and he suggested a few things, including a cortisone injection in my head and putting me on the waiting list for botox injections. Being a public patient means none of these things can happen quickly. Being poor sucks, but at least I have options.

My senses are constantly on high alert. I jump at any unexpected sight or sound. A trip to the supermarket makes me dizzy and lightheaded. The afternoon sun through the office window feels like lasers burning into my eyes. The kids’ voices — at any time, any pitch, any tone — make me want to crawl into my bed and stay there until THEY go to bed. I am intolerant of even the minimal of discomforts.

Despite this, my psychologist has discouraged me from getting an autism assessment, mainly because it costs over $1,000 and because I don’t present like a typical male autistic. She has gone through the DSM with me and dismissed my arguments about how it presents differently in women and girls.

I will still see my psychiatrist and ask him to do an assessment, because from everything I’ve read I’m convinced I’m on the spectrum. It would explain so much about my behaviour and inner workings and would neatly tie up all my other diagnoses.

My psychologist thinks that the behavioural and emotional symptoms I attribute to autism are instead the result of childhood trauma. Maybe she’s right; and, really, why does it matter so much to me about what label I wear?

I guess it matters, because the cause determines the treatment. And maybe the treatment of autism related symptoms would be different? I don’t know.

Maybe I just want to be understood? Or maybe I want to be special? Maybe there is less stigma associated with autism than there is with depression and other mental illness? Maybe I’d rather have a disability than a mental illness? Is my mental illness a disability? Centrelink considers it to be. Or, at least, it used to. I think there is a whole new post in this topic.

Really, I just want to feel better. I want more energy. More will and interest in living. More productivity. Less pain. Some joy.

Originally published at A blog of her own.