Anxiety, depression and psychosis
Tony didn’t come back that day, or the next. His mum did though and she sat with me while I cried some more. She’d brought with her some of those tissues with lotion in them to keep your nose from chafing and while I appreciated the thought, they should come with a ‘sneeze alert’ cos when I did sneeze, a great big shower of snot burst through the tissues onto my fingers.
We both laughed. I loved his mum dearly (she has since sadly passed away) and though she meant well, she could be very forward. She’d asked if everything was okay in the bedroom? Maybe I’d put on too much weight? highly unlikely as at 5′ 4″ I was a slight 7 stone 101b. Was I spending all his money?
As usual, on Saturdays, I got calls from family and friends, asking how I was or whether I’d be out later and I engaged with them all cheerily before putting the phone down and bursting into tears – again. I couldn’t tell them, not yet anyway because, despite how I felt about Tony, I didn’t want anyone else to hate him.
Telling the boys
As agreed Tony’s parents brought the boys back Sunday afternoon and I had the hellish job of telling them that daddy wouldn’t be coming home but that he still loved them. The boys’ faces never crumbled or scrunched up when they cried, they were pretty as pictures, tears just gathered in their huge brown eyes then spilled down their cheeks.
My heart was breaking for them as I smiled and they leant in for hugs; not sure if the hugs were for me or for them but they wouldn’t let go and I could feel their small bodies trembling. Christ Tony! I could kill you! I thought bitterly. The “Why mummy?” almost crucified me but I had to answer kindly and gently and explain that daddy would still see them and they could see daddy whenever they wanted. The poor little things should never have had to go to bed with heavy hearts and a funny tummy my baby (five year old) said.
A cheerful 5 minutes
Two days later the boys were really excited when I picked them up from school. They handed me Valentine’s day cards, their seven and five year old scribbles telling me not to be sad and that they loved me lots. It was just too much, too painful that they thought they had to cheer me up and I cried and sniffed all the way home in the car. I couldn’t help it. It was supposed to be my job to look after them, to make them feel safe and to cheer them up, not the other way round.
However later that night Tony’s mum phoned and cheered me up and even made me giggle momentarily. The little madam he left me for tried to put Valentine’s cards and gifts through her letterbox and each card she posted was ripped up by his mum and dropped back through the letterbox along with the gifts. His mum usually never swore but on this occasion, in her Spanish accent, she cussed the girl, told her to eff off, to go away you little tart and keep your rubbish as she shoved out yet another gift.
Weeks passed, I hadn’t eaten and weight was falling off me. My colleagues at Head Office of a high-end fashion chain noticed and were kind enough to take my clothes in for me. The whole team were going out one night and Tony offered to babysit in our home. So dressed in a super new outfit I was ready to leave when Tony laughed “You ain’t going out in that are you? Not with your fat arse.” Something I’d moaned about ages ago but certainly couldn’t complain about now at well under 7 stone. The b*stard was with that madam but still felt the need to put the boot in!
The street fight
Off we went round the trendy bars in Islington, all the while I was pulling at my skirt, feeling desperately uncomfortable. Around 10 p.m. I couldn’t stand any more and I wasn’t having fun so I went home. As I neared the corner of my home I could hear an almighty row going on and it only took seconds to realise it was coming from outside my house.
It was Tony and her so I stood and listened. I heard him tell he to get away from the house, she’ll (me) be back any time soon. And I could hear the cheeky mare shouting she didn’t care so I turned the corner and the two of them froze. I walked past her then him into my home and told him he could leave now but the interfering little bitch whinged “It’s ‘is kids as well you know. You can’t tell him what to do.”
“Really?” and I spluttered as I realised who she was – only the ugliest girl out of the three he worked with. The one who’s blue eyeshadow and red lipstick looked like it had been drawn on by a three year old. Her black high heels were so worn down, the material on the heels had curled up and showed the white underneath. I laughed hysterically saying “Is this her?” then turned to her laughing and said “I think you should leave now.” She spun her chewing gum round her finger and replied “Nah. I’m with him, why should I?”
“Cos there’s two little boys upstairs in bed. If nothing else, don’t you care about them?”
“Nah! I don’t actually.” and before I knew it she had a tight grip on my hair and was pulling me out into the street, down onto the pavement. I was momentarily stunned but after a lot of toing and froing I managed to get on top of her, holding her arms to stop her from attacking me further. By now Tony’s punching my head, yelling at me to get off her when out of the corner of my eye I could see a recognisable car pass us then reverse back and stop.
Two pairs of shiny black boots came into view and a kindly policeman took my arm and said “Come on love, let her go. I think we know what’s happened here but you need to let go.” I did and watched as tart picked up her clutch bag, scrabbling to pick up her makeup and hair brush while she ranted, calling me an effin bitch.
Now I’m not proud of this but I almost threw myself at her before the kindly policeman put his hand out and said “Love, if you carry this on, we’ll have no choice……” then turned to Tony saying “Mate, you need to sort this.” “Yep, okay.” said Tony looking at me “I’ll just put her in a cab then I’ll come back to yours.”
“Ha! I don’t think so. If you put her in a cab then you can get in with her.” His mum was furious the next day when I popped in for coffee before work, especially because he’s punched me several times. I felt so ashamed.
After this, the little tart took to following me around, going to my local bars, always wearing a cheaper copy of the clothes she’d seen me in the week before, barging into me and trying to introduce herself to my pals as Tony’s new girlfriend. She and her pals would follow my car home so I drove as slow as I could, just to annoy her then on reaching my front door, I’d get out of the car, sit on the bonnet and light a ciggie. They’d eventually gotten bored and driven off shouting obscenities from the windows.
Wise words from a good friend
She started calling my home from 11pm onwards and hanging up. I knew it was her because she did night shift at the cab office they worked in. Then she began calling early evening and hanging up, knowing Tony was round to see the boys. This was all really stressing me out when an older and wiser friend said “Look, you know Tony, you know how he works. She doesn’t. When he comes round to see the boys, offer him a cup of tea, a sandwich even and let him read the boys a bedtime story. The longer he stays at yours, the more p’d off she’s going to get. When he’s gone, phone me if you need to shout and swear, but keep him there ages.”
It worked cos the cheeky little tart started phoning, asking “Is Tony there?”
“Hang on a minute.” I’d tell her and I’d shout upstairs where Tony was lying on the boys’ beds reading “Babes,you out of bed yet? Tart’s on the phone.” and before he could get down, she’d hung up. Another night I might say “Hang on, he’s in the bath” or “He’s in bed, who is it?” I knew it was causing nightmares between them because my cousin lived in her flats and told me about the rows and physical fights they had. In my mind, if I was suffering then so should she.
Months on, I wasn’t eating or sleeping and while I was in bed I started to get these odd sensations; I could feel my heart thumping but I could also hear it pounding in my ears as I lay my head on the pillow. My fingers and toes were tingling and I was finding hard to catch a breath. Lots of jumbled thoughts were racing round in my head and I felt scared for some reason.I’d have to sit up quickly and put the light for a while.
Some nights I found myself down in my kitchen, wrapped in my dressing gown, sitting on the floor with my back to the radiator, smoking incessantly and drinking hot milk (I’d read somewhere not to drink caffeine at night time). I’d take myself back up to my room before the boys woke up and collapse into bed exhausted both physically and mentally.
I was always on edge, I was jittery and easily agitated at work. Noises were exaggerated and aggravating. Like the crunching into a massive apple each day at 11 a.m. by the girl at who sat opposite me at work. I got up from my desk one morning with the sole intention of shoving her big fat apple down her throat but fortunately something made me walk past her and upstairs into the ladies, shaking like a leaf. I didn’t know what had got into me.
Pre the www I joined the local library and picked up books like the Relate guide to relationships, on moods and stress, where I learned what the odd sensations were i.e. anxiety, stress overload, panic attacks. Moreover I learned tips on how to manage relationship breakdowns. But most of all I learnt that I was doing the right thing by the boys i.e. not miscalling their dad (in front of them), being polite and calm when Tony came round.
I had their dad explain (not me) to them why he couldn’t have them some weekends, so that he saw the disappointment on their innocent faces. I had mastered how to speak to Tony calmly and could see that this unnerved him. I loved these books and read many more (they’d later be called self-help books) – you couldn’t keep me away from the library.
Still, having to deal with Tart’s constant provocation, Tony’s foul mouth and his refusal to help support the boys because I was using his money for my Friday night out! was taking its toll. What with having to keep smiling for the boys, ferrying them to their beloved activities, often seven days a week because their dad couldn’t be bothered to even take them to Sunday football, I was struggling. I couldn’t see an end to the pain. I felt scared, worthless, hopeless and I honestly felt suicidal.
You can read the next part here