Silver linings

Stephanie Swann by Stephanie Swann Additional Needs

Stephanie Swann

Stephanie Swann

I live in Stockport with my partner and 5 year old little boy Joseph. Joseph suffered from a grade 3 Hypoxic brain injury at birth and has subseque...

Silver linings

This pandemic has been tough on everyone one way or another, but for those of us that have vulnerable loved ones to consider, it has been particularly difficult.

My son Joseph spent most of his first year in hospital as he sustained a Hypoxic brain injury at birth and wasn’t discharged until he was 8 months old.

He then had frequent hospital admissions over the winter months of 2019; including over Christmas and his first birthday on New Year’s Day 2020.

We missed out on so many things during the course of his first year.

The kind of things I’d looked forward to during my pregnancy; taking him to my work place during mat leave to show him off, attending mum and baby groups, going to play centres.

All these things were a no go for so long.

Each time we missed out on something, I’d tell myself that it was ok because there’d be other groups, other family day’s, other occasions that we could enjoy like everyone else.

Then the lockdown hit and we’ve spent the better part of another year under tough restrictions.

It has been incredibly difficult keeping Joseph away from our family.

Initially we also cancelled all of our overnight respite care that we rely heavily on.

At the beginning of the first lockdown my partner and I muddled through for 10 weeks with no help at all and I can honestly say now that I don’t know how we managed it for that long.

My mental health has been very up and down and I can often swing from feeling so grateful to have what we do have to feeling utterly fed up and unmotivated to do anything beyond basic functioning.

During the hard days I have a tendency to berate myself and feel useless and guilty.

It’s difficult to break that thinking pattern and then become sucked into a vicious cycle.

If this sounds familiar I want to tell you that it’s ok, it’s normal and you can break the cycle.

Be kind to yourself. Try not to compare yourself to others or bully yourself.

Just take the time you need to be mindful of your feelings and accept them.

You’re allowed to have big feelings. This is a big situation.

Do the best you can, that’s all anybody can do and take it one day, one hour, one minute at a time if that’s what you need.

There are people that can help if you can’t do it alone.

I think it’s also important to look for the silver linings in all of this.

Despite our personal challenges, there have also been many positives to come from this pandemic.

We were fortunate enough to be able to have time together as a family unit that we never would have had otherwise.

My partner was able to spend quality time with Joseph, seeing him grow and develop with his own eyes, rather than being fed information from me.

The lack of contact with others and stricter hygiene measures has had a huge influence on Joseph’s health and he has successfully gone a whole year with no respiratory admissions.

That is huge.

The time away from the ones I love has made me so much more appreciative of the many wonderful people in our lives and as soon as I am able, I’m going to hug each one of them so tight.

I am so grateful for the wonderful friends in my life, especially the other SEN mama’s who’s understanding, empathy, humour and support I couldn’t have got through many days without.

It has shown me that despite all the challenges and struggles life has thrown us, we are blessed in so many ways.

So if you’re reading this from a dark place, I want you to know, I understand, it’s ok to feel the struggle.

But please, look for your silver linings, even if you have to squint.

You might just love what you see.

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