I always believed that I was raised in a warm and loving household and that my childhood was one of the best that anyone could have. Until I had my first child, my son. I started having flashbacks to the life I had as a child and the trauma that came with it from financial stress my family faced and abuse towards my mother that I witnessed. I forgot all of this until I had my son when I was 25 years old. My son reminded me of the needs I didn’t have met when I was a child and my steady decline into a dark place began.
The trauma responses I developed in my childhood and adolescence made me believe that I was not a strong person on my own and that I had to be in a relationship with someone who would ‘save’ me. I let my ex-partner’s dominant personality dictate what we did financially. He was once my best friend and someone who I thought I could trust, I soon found myself having signed loan agreements I did not feel comfortable with, allowing access to my bank accounts and being kept out of financial decisions which had my name attached to it. A few times I brought up and even cried about wanting to go back to work because I found myself not being able to afford simple things like nappies and groceries.
Four weeks after my daughter was born when I was 28 and the pressure of life and motherhood just got worse and I felt myself going to a dark place again. Finances became an issue bigger than we could resolve and when I asked why we didn’t have any money I would be met with general responses like ‘things are going to get better’. They didn’t get better.
I attempted suicide for the third time in my life and had to check myself into a psychiatric ward in July 2022 . I had an abundant amount of debt under my name and I was not coping as a mother. I felt like the world swallowed me up and for five days I laid in a hospital bed paralysed with anxiety.
After my hospital stay, I was referred to the Caroline Chisholm Society via Child First. I had never heard of them before, but I would also soon find out that they would be a crucial part of my recovery. Jess from Caroline Chisholm Society is my social worker and in every sense my guardian angel.
I would see Jess once a week as I was staying at my brother’s home with my two children. She came in not knowing what she would find on the other side of the door.
The first thing Jess gave me was courage. I watched her come into a home she knew nothing about and radiate her warm energy, ready to nurture this wounded mother she had just met.
The second thing Jess gave me was an end to my maternal loneliness. She would come in and ask what I needed for the children. Nappies, clothes, shoes, blankets, second hand goods, vouchers to entertain the kids, and really anything that would make it easier for me to cope with my children’s needs.
The third thing Jess gave me was a fresh start. How many people do you know in your life could be able to, or even would give you a new beginning? An out. A way to live the life you want for yourself and your little ones. The worst part about my mental health breakdown was that I always thought that I will never survive this and so there was no point in trying to even breathe anymore. I found a private rental to move out with my children and she helped me access the Family Violence Support Package where I was able to furnish my new home with items of necessity.
I am alive today and actually feel like I am living, not just existing, because of the supports given to me by Caroline Chisholm Society. In the space of seven months I went from feeling suicidal in an acute adult inpatient psychiatric unit to now living in my own rental with my children, a happy mother ready to take on the world and protect her cubs.
My two young children definitely felt affected by everything that happened. The importance of the services given to me and my kids in the early stages of their lives has given me the tools I need to cope with them as a single mum, when they have their moments.
I hug my children without waiting for a reason to hug them. I tell them how much I love them every single day and try to keep a smile on my face so that they know they are enough for me.
I want to break the cycle.