We can be saved in tiny ways every day by people we meet, even just once.
Five years ago, a month after the birth of my first son, I was saved like this by a midwife at the Coombe hospital. I’d had four weeks of steadily worsening mental health. I knew a lot about depression – but this was something very different. My brain was being bombarded by a relentless onslaught of intrusive, nasty thoughts about harming my baby. These thoughts weren’t just occurring, say, every 10 minutes or so. They were happening every moment, every millisecond, with such frequency and force that I could not speak.
I didn’t understand what it was but I knew I was in trouble. I went back to the hospital and sat there. Words were not coming out, but I was crying. A lot.
This midwife took me into a small office, and said: ‘Just trust me. Do something with me, for a moment.’ I had no clue what it was at the time but I did what she said. I thought about my feet, I thought about my legs, I thought about my stomach, my heart, my breath. I followed her words and for a few minutes – moments really – I found absolute respite. Peace. It was Leonard Cohen’s Anthem, the crack: there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in. Just enough light seeped in so I knew the dark could not end me. I went home to my baby, called my husband. He came home.
I know now that what the midwife was doing was something called a body scan. She had just completed training in mindfulness. She was able to help me slip out of my broken mind and into the comforting solidity of my body. She saved me, on that day.
I can’t tell you her name because I didn’t ask. She is one of the beautiful, hardworking midwives who save people like me, every single day.
I want to thank her.