This years Yule Calendar is finally done and at the printers, in time for Imbolg, only a Sabbat late. There have been many dramas and hold ups and I swear something happens every year at Calendar time, but except for when the earthquakes happened and we decided to make it a Yule calendar, it’s never been quite this late before.
I don’t want to sound as though I’m making excuses, but please let me explain the lateness this time. And be aware from the start, this is a blog post that will go into some darker aspects of my life lately. I don't need sympathy, or understanding or anything. I just need to be able to put this out there for anyone else who may go through the same thing.
Last year, we began work on a companion diary for the calendar but one that does a normal calendar year. So as I was working on the second half of this year, I was working on this calendar too. For some reason, I thought I’d done the whole thing except for artwork. I then forgot all about it in the joys, sorrows and plain hard work that is lifestyle farming without all the gadgets.
A customer contacted me towards the end of April to ask if there was another one coming. It was quite the wake-up call and one that I’m grateful for. At the time, my sow had given birth to her first litter of piglets and then abandoned them, I was fighting to keep them going and ended up with just one (who is still living in my bathroom 3 months later). My son had been living at his father’s which had just turned to complete custard and I took him back via the CYFS system (a long and convoluted story - needless to say, I have a young man on the autism spectrum who was hurt and angry at the world and those who were supposed to be looking after him).
Luana got on to Stacey, our artist who is now living in Canada with the new love of her life to get the artwork under way and I found I still had six months worth of astrological and moon information to calculate and input, a years worth of feasts and holidays to research and enter and then go through everything to double check and make it tidy.
Customers started to order and some began to pay even though I’d let them know it wasn’t ready yet. I got all of my part done, I received the artwork (which as always is stunning) and placed all of that. I just didn’t have cover art. I emailed Stacey and waited.
I sent her a message a couple of weeks later, she hadn’t received the email. Then halfway through July, I said something to Luana, who got busy and created something wonderful from photos and bits that we had from previous works. This was the one thing that I had the least control of, it took the longest to get sorted and meanwhile, I’m being contacted by the customers who’ve paid to politely ask if I’d received their payment (in other words - “where’s my fucking calendar?”)
During this period of three months, my son has attempted suicide four times. Two were serious enough to require hospitalisation and a lot of to-ing and fro-ing from Christchurch to visit him and meet with various professionals. He’s finally getting decent help from the mental health system, which I am eternally grateful for. But it’s been a hard road.
He’s slipped through the cracks, being diagnosed as “just behavioural” for most of his life. I’ve had Psychiatrists that I didn’t feel took anything we said seriously and as he didn’t relate to them at all it was a total waste of time and energy. We now have people who pick up that he’s on the Autism spectrum from a 20 minute chat with him. We now have people that he can relate to and don’t just dismiss him as a difficult attention seeker with a lousy mother.
The first hospital stay was at the start of June. I trucked along, staying strong for him and the rest of my family. I expected I’d have a meltdown, but it never happened. There have been moments that no mother should ever have to endure.
He chose to overdose on paracetamol. Many people still believe paracetamol to be harmless, but it’s not. A small overdose isn’t an issue it’s true. But taking 45 500mg tablets can be fatal if not treated very quickly. Paracetamol, in large doses like this one will cause liver failure. If it gets to that stage, there is nothing that can be done for you. All the best doctors and hospital staff can do is make you comfortable while they watch you die. If it’s caught in time, however, there is an antidote that flushes it out of your system before it affects your liver. It’s just not particularly pleasant while it’s doing it’s thing.
When I first got a text from his friend to tell me he’d taken this much, I checked and found the empty cards and rang an ambulance. Part of me didn’t really believe he’d taken them all, I thought he may have flushed them down the loo and was being dramatic, but I couldn’t take the chance. Having the blood test results come back to me and tell me that he did in fact take that volume and had truly intended to die (he didn’t know there was an antidote at that point) was one of the most awful moments for a mother to face. Sitting at his bedside while he slept (and occasionally vomited) on my own in the Emergency Department at the hospital at 2am didn’t make it any better.
I spent that week at a friends place in town, being close enough to come and go from the hospital and youth inpatient ward and not needing to worry about looking after my seven year old daughter or run around after my husband. It was great that my friend looked after me, made sure I ate and that I got enough sleep and space, but it made coming home harder. I wanted to be able to just let go - it was all over and I could have my meltdown, except I couldn’t. My daughter also needed me - she didn’t know exactly what had happened, only that her brother was sick and nearly died - and my husband needed me.
This time, as in, I brought him home from hospital yesterday, he sent a goodbye text out to a lot of people. While I was waiting for the ambulance to arrive, I received calls from the School counsellors from two different schools who’d had students come to them in a panic. I received frantic calls from his youth group leader and my ex-husband. I’d been in a meeting when I’d received the text (which I wouldn’t normally look at straight away, but did this time). I’ve had people out the wazoo offering help and support and I’m grateful for it. But. Sometimes all the offers feel like another burden. I truly am grateful for all the people thinking of us and offering to help, but I’m sick of my phone constantly going off with yet another call or text message. In a way I almost feel that not to take up these offers is to seem ungrateful for them, like it’s rude of me to not need these people to do something for me. I hadn’t told a few people that I probably should have just because I don’t want to have to deal with any more of this. I also just don't know how to tell some people without sounding as though I'm fishing for sympathy or something.
I haven’t coped quite so well this time. I’ve had some pretty dark moments and thoughts that would horrify you if I shared them. Then I feel shocked about them and feel guilty and a lot of self-loathing. I’m scared for my son, I’m worried about my youngest daughter - she’s not stupid and is asking questions that I don’t know how to answer. I’m worried that with all the evasion about why or how he’s sick, she’s going to start thinking that an apparently well person can very suddenly get sick enough to nearly die.
I’m tired of being everyone’s rock. I’m tired of needing to be strong for everyone else. I’m tired of being someone that others depend upon so much. I’m worn out. I have animals that are being neglected because I just don’t have the energy to be caring for them too and I have no one else to rely on. I could call on some people to help, but they’re not going to be up for feeding out hay on a daily basis (and this is a wheelbarrow load of hay per cattle beast) so therefore, nine trips up and down my farm. The friends that have been supportive are starting to tell me what I should do. That’s not actually helpful, in fact, it’s pissed me off. Which starts up another round of guilt and shit. My mother seems almost hurt by the fact that last time I didn’t go and stay with them. I just don’t need that.
In this time, I also paid the publishing company for my book, I sent the manuscript to Luana for proof-reading and editing. I appreciate that she’s doing this as a favour, in her spare time around her busy life. I want it finished, but don’t want to hassle her about it. The fact that it’s taking so long makes me doubt that what I’ve written is any good. She keeps telling me that it’s great, but I’ve written this one the way I talk, which doesn’t work so well in a book. I’ve received daily and weekly calls from my publishing consultant asking where my manuscript is. It’s great that they don’t just take the money and vanish - this is one of the reasons that I chose to go with XLibris after all - but when I’m in the midst of dealing with other crises it felt like just another burden, another person needing something from me that I wasn’t able to provide. Then my husband starting hassling me. So what’s happening with the book? It’s been months, we could have been earning interest on that money, why did we pay it back then when you weren’t ready for it? Because the money would have been needed for something else, fence posts, pig feed, the power bill, something. And I would have been sitting here not doing it again.
So anyway. The calendar is at the printers. I hope to have it available to send out very shortly. And then I think I’m going to hide from the world for a while, lick my wounds and try to recover from all of this.
Blessings until I re-emerge.