Time to really grow up…

After my mother left that ward, she continued to get worse.  I continued to stay out of the house a lot, I was either with my eldest sister and her new family or with D and friends. My older sister was now working full-time so either at work or with a (now ex) boyfriend so my little sister and I became a lot closer. We’d sit up with tea and biscuits until late into the night just sharing stories and laughing. Thinking back to this makes me a little nostalgic for those times as I do not get to spend much time with her now.

I was still seeing my dad occasionally too but he not much really, it’s the way we still are so it works for us. On my mothers bad nights, my sisters and I would try to calm and soothe our mother as much as we could but were back to calling ambulances more often than not. On normal days, my mother was spending a lot of  time drinking with her Fiance- either at the pub, at home or at his house. Life was this way for a few months.

At the end of these few months, we had another scare when our mother didn’t come home for a few days. We found out that she had been in hospital but discharged herself early, she had got a bed and breakfast but as she didn’t have much money couldn’t afford much else. One night she decided to risk stealing a packet of cigarettes, she was caught and the police were called. As she emptied her bag, she pulled out a knife. This was normal after the incident as she felt very unsafe and paranoid but she had never and would never have used it. Her previous court appearance came back to haunt her when they arrested her for the perceived threat.

She was sentenced to three months in prison. We had to adjust quickly- my little sister was 15 at the time so went to stay with our Auntie and my older sister picked up the house hold duties. I helped where I could but this didn’t always feel enough; especially as tensions were high and my older sister was pregnant and struggling to support us financially. She did an amazing job at keeping our home paid for and us warm, clean and fed. I will always be in awe of and grateful for the strength she had to support us while preparing for her first child.

I didn’t tell many people where my mother was and why- I was embarrassed and it felt that there was too much to explain. Nobody really knew that she was Schizophrenic either. Sometimes I wish that I’d been more able to open up then and perhaps not feel so lonely with my secrets but most of the time I allow myself to recognise and understand why I didn’t.

I only went to the prison once as it was quite far away. Once was enough with this experience as it wasn’t a very nice place to visit. It struck me to see how beautiful the grounds and the surrounding countryside were when the people in the building couldn’t really appreciate it. I had everything taken off me on the way into the visiting room and even had to stand in front of sniffer dogs to be checked and patted down. Our visit was watched but not listened to which was for the best as my mother was telling tales of the mischief her and her new friends had been up to (nothing illegal but definitely nothing to be overheard by the wrong person). She made it sound almost enjoyable there, even though I am sure it was anything but. It put my mind at ease to see her nevertheless.

I was quite annoyed by how much she missed when she was in prison so while she was in, I stole her bedroom. She noticed immediately on her return but said nothing so I kept it. 17 is definitely still young enough to be a bit childish.

My little sister half moved back in after my mothers return and my older sister moved out to prepare fully for her new arrival. The change didn’t really impact me as I was used to the revolving doors at home by this time.

Another thing that was impacting me but should have been were my upcoming AS Level exams. I was barely attending classes or studying at all by this point so I wasn’t holding out much hope. My mock exams didn’t go so well. This should have given me a kick but it didn’t. I had managed to get so far behind that I buried my head in the sand and pretty much gave up trying.

My actual exam results were shocking, it was clear I’d missed a lot of crucial learning. My teachers assured me that I’d still be able to complete my A-Levels with passable grades for uni if I knuckled down so I decided to stay on for upper sixth but was dreading not having D and my older friends in the year above anymore. I felt as though my options for escape were narrowing.

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