Mental Illness

Caregiving: Notes From The Middle Of The Night

So much exists in the middle of the night.

The middle of the night is time to let go. Time to hold children that need mama. Time to trip over the cat who just so happens to be the same colour as the shadows. When the shadows yawn and start to meow, I know I’ve been away from the comfort of our duvet too long. Juniper Puss saunters down stairs and sits in the doorway watching me through bleary eyes. Eventually his three legs lollop over to the armchair I’m inevitably curled up in.

The middle of the night is the time when I write to Mr. Juniper. Usually notes. Sometimes letters. There are some things that are just simpler to write when the house is quiet. Sometimes the words equate to notes about appointments and medication. Sometimes the words are ones that I find hard to pull out before dusk. So often they’re words of fear and hope competing on the same page. It’s the middle of the night when I acknowledge the worst of my fears. It’s the middle of the night when I can bring myself to admit them to Mr. Juniper. It takes an emotional earthquake to bring them out in daylight hours. Then there are the words of hope. Words of love. Written for Mr. Juniper to see. For him to take in at a pace that is his, undisturbed.

The middle of the night is when I find letters from Mr. Juniper. Sometimes notes. When I go up to bed, a scrap of paper on my side of the bed. They’re never suicide notes. Mr. Juniper reserves pen and paper for a different kind of letter. The letters he leaves are ones of love and sorrow. They speak of apology and grief. Gratitude and longing. They’re love letters through the fog of pain. They mean the world to me. They exist in the middle of the night, rarely spoken of in the day and tucked away once found and read.

Last night? No grief. No anxiety. No immediate crisis. Just a note, not a letter. I long for more nights like these.

Love letter

By Juniper

Rarely to be found without herbal tea nearby. Team Unicorn. Often in pyjamas. Also: TEAM KATNISS!

4 replies on “Caregiving: Notes From The Middle Of The Night”

I’m a beginning nursing student and we’ve just started our psych rotations, which means I spend one day a week in a locked unit at a psychiatric hospital. I wanted to say that your entire caregiving series has been so, so helpful for me to get a real point of view of mental illness beyond the dry textbook descriptions of symptoms. Thank you!

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