Life, mental health, self love, suicide

Attempting to escape

I was 19 when I realised I was in debt, being secretive about how I was feeling and letting my relationships slip. Over the months, my sickness level had gotten a lot worse at work and I had to be honest that I was struggling with my mental health. I told my team leader as much as she needed to know but no more.

Early into 2009, D and I had drifted a lot (him with his new job and uni friends that I didn’t know well, me with trying to deal with what I was going through). In fact, we drifted so much that we split up shortly after I spent Christmas with his family. This hit me hard as it felt like I’d lost so much more than just him, I’d lost my reason to have a relationship with his family.

We tried to remain friends as we were in the same circles but this wasn’t easy when we were also trying to move on. I put myself out there and got quite a bit of male attention after the break up, at the time I saw it as an ego boosting distraction. I found comfort in one lad I met in the rugby club who met my need to feel special and liked for a while but it was very on/off because neither us of was really available. It all just ended up making me feel more lonely.

On Easter Sunday that year, I woke up feeling even more lonely and low than usual. We had always had Easter morning together as a family so my flat, empty barring my two adopted cats, felt extremely lacking. I was hurting so much inside that my outside hurt too. I decided that painkillers would help. I had a couple of boxes of ibuprofen and Paracetamol at home but decided that it wasn’t enough so went out for a few more boxes. I wasn’t really planning anything but took them all when I got home, washed down with all I had in to drink- a little straight vodka and some Bacardi breezer. I sat listening to music, crying and writing until I could feel the pills in my stomach then just felt more pain. I tried to self harm, like I had seem my mother do in the past, thinking I’d get some release but it just hurt and I didn’t like the look of a knife going into my skin so I stopped. I called Roxanne after that. I hadn’t realised she was out with her boyfriend but she assured me that it was okay. We spoke for a little bit and then she went off to call for more help. She rang back immediately after and stayed on the phone until her mother , Kim, and sister arrived.

They arrived quickly and Kim comforted me while an ambulance was called. She was extremely upset herself but gave me water and kept assuring me that I’d be okay, I was loved and would be helped. Roxanne and another of my friends arrived just before the ambulance so came with me on the journey to the hospital. The paramedics were awful, when I started vomiting they mocked the fact that I’d washed the tablets down with Bacardi breezer and told me that ‘a few paracetamol wouldn’t kill me’. I was mortified.

When I arrived at the hospital, I was put into a ward right away. The girls were allowed to stay with me the whole time and, luckily, because I’d vomited there was no need for my stomach to be pumped. The nurse asked me if I’d done what I had because I didn’t like my easter eggs. Nice lady.

I had to stay over night in the hospital as my blood pressure had dropped so much that they wanted to see it hit a certain number before I left but the next day was finally allowed to go home. The friend who had come in with me picked me up and took me home.

After that, I knew I had to get away so started to make plans to go away for the summer. I had two girls holidays soon after to get the instant gratification of getting away.

While I was away, I wasn’t myself I spent most of the time drinking to excess and acting out of my usual character. On one holiday in particular, I argued with my friend one night as I was having severe nightmares every time I tried to sleep. I was ratty and horrible to be around. Sadly, she saw the reason one night for herself when she was woken up by me screaming in my sleep. I felt so guilty that she had to deal with that.

I knew that running away for a week or two at a time was not helping me so when I got back, I made serious plans to spend the summer working in Magaluf.

img_6548
Attempting to escape
Life, self love, suicide, Uncategorized

Falling in to adult life

Before I get right into writing this blog post and continuing my dark tale, I want to remind myself as much as my readers why I am writing this story. This is not a ‘poor me’ story, it’s about honouring the dark places I have been and appreciating the glorious light that was always and will always be at the end of my tunnel. My life is full to the brim of love and happiness now and revisiting the darkness is only making that more solid. I am grateful to be in a place where I can talk about the worst times of my life with friends and strangers alike and overwhelmed that even a single person wants to know more.

After my mothers funeral I decided that I wanted to change as much about my life as I could. I wanted to distance myself from all the hurt and pain so I applied to the council for my own flat and applied for a new job. I didn’t want to talk to anyone about what I was thinking or feeling so became what I thought was the life and soul of all parties. If I wasn’t working, I was drunk. This severely impacted my relationship with D, I wasn’t the same girl any more. How could I be?

We had to empty my mother’s house quite quickly after the funeral as it was rented and empty. D should have been helping me when they day came to empty my room but after I had been waiting outside the house for an hour for him, it transpired that he wasn’t coming so I called Roxanne and within 5 minutes she was there with me. She took the lead in packing up my room and made several car journeys with me to move my stuff to my friend’s house. She is incredible (and super organised). Don’t get me wrong, I am not meaning to bash D here, what was going on in my life was too much for me to understand and face so a 19-year-old lad had no chance of being able to do or say the right things.

After a little while, I started to get ill all the time. In fact, when I got offered an interview from a place I’d applied for a job, I had glandular fever. It’s anyone’s guess how I got that job- I was ill, sweating, shaking and covered in lumps when I attended that interview. I was offered the job quickly after so handed in my notice at the Wimpy but decided to keep my weekend job at behind the bar at the rugby club.

Starting the new job at a Customer Service Centre near Cardiff was a breath of fresh air for me, it was amazing to be a part of a team that knew nothing about me or my past. I could just be me. On the surface, I made friends quickly but in reality they didn’t really know me. It was just as I wanted it.

Soon after starting, I was also given keys to my new flat. D’s parents helped me to decorate and furnish it. At this point, D and I were definitely not working any more but were both still trying to hold on to what we had once had. I was also holding on as I loved his family so much. We continued to push on for a while, as you will see.

Moving in to the flat was not what I thought it would be at all, I had no idea how to manage my finances or my home! My kitchen was always bare of food, I never had an appetite so never ate alone. My bills were racking up fast and I felt as though my gas and electric were always on emergency. The money I was making at my jobs was not covering much more than my journey to work, keeping my head just above water with bills and covering my nights out. I didn’t discuss this with anyone as getting into debt can be very shameful. I just wanted to look like I had my sh*t together!

It wasn’t long before money worries started to get me down and I’d struggle to get out of bed for work,  sometimes even calling in sick. I was now the one spiralling out of control.

On reflection, I’d love to have had the ability to ask for help at the time, to admit that I had no idea how to manage adult life. I’d never learned. I’d never been shown. I just couldn’t, all that I wanted to do was be a normal person. It was becoming my life mission to seem like one.

img_6547

Life, self love, suicide

The aftermath of the storm

I didn’t have to ask how my mother had died, I knew how. Deep down, I even knew why. She was dead because she wanted to be.

Knowing why, deep down, was not something that stopped me asking why. Why fight to get us back only to choose to leave us? Why now? Why couldn’t she just hold on? Why, why, why, why, why? You don’t expect that to be the main question you want to ask when you find out your mother has passed. You expect to know; not know ‘deep down’ but really know. The answer is expected to be something explainable by nature.

After a little while of asking why in between tears, we went to my eldest sisters house and I went to phone Roxanne. She had been out shopping with her boyfriend and was on the train home, not that it mattered to her where she was. To her, she was with me. We stayed on the phone saying nothing, just crying, for about an hour. D arrived at some point and comforted me while I cried and asked more questions beginning with ‘why’.

My mothers suicide was not like you might have seen on Netflix, with tapes left to explain the ins and the outs of why. There were no flash backs to a ‘will they/ wont they’ love story, there was no justice doled out to anyone with involvement in the downward spiral of my mothers last bits of time, there was no glamour. She had left the ward and checked in to a cheap hotel room. A maid found her. I am sorry if this is uncomfortable to read but that’s what suicide is. It’s uncomfortable. It’s pain, fear, humiliation, guilt. It can end the lives of the ones left behind if they aren’t careful. There is no coming of age life lesson in it in and you certainly can’t watch or participate in the aftermath of your own suicide.

We had to wait for a postmortem and an autopsy to be carried out before we could have the funeral due to the nature of the death. Going to hear the autopsy results was heart breaking but we all felt we needed to hear it. The main cause of death was asphyxiation but she had also massively overdosed on something that makes your blood pump faster and had also ‘cut’. She really wanted to go.

We booked the funeral for two weeks after her death. Planning the funeral was a blur of emotion, my older 2 sisters took the lead and we were fortunate to have help from family and close family friends. D’s parents supported me a lot during this time, his mother held me in her arms for hours one night while I howled like a broken animal, she helped me shop for a funeral outfit, made sure I ate and waited at the funeral parlour on a couple of my daily visits to see my mother. I’d sit in that room and talk to her in her coffin for often more than an hour. Outside of the safety nets I was building; tensions were running high. There were a few ‘disagreements’ around the funeral planning. D and I were even arguing, neither of us knew how to talk about what was going on in my life.

My close friends were amazing, as were their families. There was a lot of love given freely and in abundance to my sisters and I at this time and there was no shortage of people telling us how amazing, funny and loved our mother was. It was overwhelming but amazing.

The funeral itself went very fast and as well as it could have I think. It was like the day went in chunks. The morning of the funeral dragged, the friend I lived with helped me to get ready and my cousin was there with us. I don’t remember any of the journey there, barring the end where I learned you are not supposed to shut your own door when getting out of the funeral car. I nearly knocked my little sister out with the door! Needless to say, I really worked hard to stifle that giggle. There were so many people outside the church when we arrived, I thought we were going in first. We weren’t. We followed the coffin in to ‘The Rose’ (Westlife), which is all I remember of the service apart from my cousins now wife holding my hand from the chair behind mine. I focused on that above anything else. We walked out to ‘Seasons in the sun’ and I spent a few minutes looking for my dad, who wasn’t actually there.

We let off balloons on the way to the wake. I sat with my friends and hardly spoke to anyone and D went to Halfords to get his car radio fitted. His parents were there so drove me home early and I spent the night being held in his mothers arms, crying.

See? Nothing romantic or glamorous about any of it.

img_6440

Life, self love, suicide

At what age does life begin?

I had my first girls holiday before going back to my second year of sixth form- Gran Canaria. I was so disorganised that my passport didn’t arrive until the day before we flew! I could not live like that now. My mother did what she could to help with spending money and holiday clothes as I didn’t earn much at my weekend job; I think we did well to pull it together.

The holiday gave me a taste of what I wanted most in the world; freedom from worry. While I was there, I can honestly say that I didn’t worry about anything more than whether to have schnapps or tequila and what bikini to wear. It was amazing. Two weeks of being a normal teenager on holiday.

img_6267
Both bottles were chosen, in case you were wondering…

I came back to Earth (okay, Wales) with a bit of a bump after that. The girls I’d gone with were going off to uni, as was D but I was staying put and my mother was not getting any better. The second year of sixth form started abysmally to be honest; my attendance was lower than ever and I was constantly being pulled up on lack of effort. I had lost all ambition. At that point in time, I believed that I wouldn’t amount to anything so there was no point in putting in any effort. Going to uni didn’t feel like an option; how could I study and play nurse to my mother? It didn’t feel like the life destined for me.

My mother turned 40 that year and I turned 18. We both believed the same thing about our respective ages; that life would now begin.

Just before I turned 18, in the November, my sister gave birth to my beautiful niece. We were all really happy for a little while after that.

My 18th birthday went by with only the usual teenage angst- who to invite and where to go. It also brought on the need for a big decision from me, as a technical adult now I could work full-time and support the house a bit more- as well as be able to afford other things I wanted to do. I made the decision to not go back to school after Christmas and get a full time job instead. My teachers seemed genuinely upset by this as they could see all of the potential in me. I just wasn’t in a position then to act on it.

I got a full time job in the Wimpy pretty fast. In all honesty, it’s one of my favourite jobs I’ve ever had. I worked with some great people and learned a lot.

A couple of months – and a lot of breakdowns from my mother – later, my mother and I had a pretty big fight. It got very heated and I ended up hitting and pushing her in self-defence. She was lashing out like she didn’t even know it was me. I phoned my eldest sister in fits of tears over what had happened and she ended up taking my little sister and I in for a little while. It was a nice break to live with her, B and my nephew and I ended up staying longer than my little sister.

I went back to my mother after a couple of months, I think, but went to stay with my dad soon after. She was still too ill and I couldn’t be around her, she was always drinking these days and her episodes were getting worse and worse. D and I struggled with me being at my dads as it was further away from each other than we were used to so I arranged to move in with a friend for a while. The night before I moved in with my friend, I got a text from my mother. “I know you’re living at your dads and it’s okay. As long as you have a roof over your head and are happy then I am happy. Love you, Mam x”. I haven’t seen this text message in years but I still remember it word for word.

Things with meaning stick.

A week or so after moving in with my friend, I went to my mother’s house. She was sat on the settee alone and looked so sad. I felt a childlike need to cheer her up so went and lay next so her with my arms around her waist and head on her lap, just like when I was a child. We stayed there for I don’t know how long. I kissed her and told her I loved her before I left that day.

Just a few days after, I got home from work and received 14 missed calls from my eldest sister. When I called her back she told me to get to my nans house fast as I could. My mother should have been on a ward but I had a gut feeling that she wasn’t.

I got to my Nan’s to find my family in the kitchen. The words that followed floored me.

“It’s Mam, she’s gone. She’s dead”

Life, self love, suicide

The calm before the storm

The last couple of blogs may have felt like nothing much was happening, that’s because it wasn’t. We had a limited time left with our mother and it was ‘the calm before the storm’. The beginning of this blog will feel the same. I am so grateful for the down time, it was necessary.

I, again, need to say that I often lose the order of  what happens leading up to these memories, often if the memory is traumatic so forgive me for jumping from one memory to the next quite fast. I feel that they are important to share anyway so that as close as I can get to my full story is out.

After my first boyfriend and I broke up, I was surprised to find other boys were taking interest in me. This was odd to me as I’d never felt like the pretty one. I’d always felt like the stupid one who made weird faces and didn’t quite fit in.

On reflection, I did ask stupid questions and didn’t have as much common knowledge as my friends. This was partly because I’d never really had an adult around permanently that I wanted to ask certain questions. I grew up with strangers a lot of the time and who wants to look daft in-front of strangers who appeared to be designing your fate?!

Another part of it was people listened when I spoke, they found me funny. I knew that they were often laughing at me but I didn’t feel bullied at all. I felt like people liked me and they liked me to be a certain way. I never acted as if I knew less than I did but I also didn’t hold back on asking questions and making statements that I probably didn’t need to make. In short, I was being inauthentic because I believed it was the way to keep my friends. FYI: it wasn’t.

While I was being chased by boys, my eldest sister fell pregnant with her partner and my mother met someone not long after! Cupid well and truly had his arrows out. My eldest sisters partner (let’s call him B for brother in law) moved in with us for a while until they had a house to move in to. This was great fun, it added something different to the house and he became part of the family immediately. I missed them both so much when they moved out but had my own life going on with GCSE’s approaching and parties/ camping every weekend.

Everything was great, we had a new baby on the way to the family – a nephew born on the day of my friends 16th birthday party.

My 16th was not long after and was very eventful, my mother was away for the weekend with her boyfriend so I had a house party. Of course I did! We invited some boys from the year above and managed to get hold of quite a bit of booze, everyone managed to get absolutely wrecked (which made church very interesting for me the next day- I still went quite a few times a week); there were girls crying, boys trying to pull- some succeeding and parents being ‘fooled’ when they picked their teens up. It was great fun!

Christmas was not so great that year though- my mother had started drinking quite heavily a few months before after being caught up in the whirlwind of new love. This didn’t really have an effect until Christmas Eve when she went out for cigarettes and disappeared, we spent Christmas Day without her and Boxing Day too, I think. She was found in a hospital, it turns out she had collapsed on the road side on the way to the garage. It was so cold that she stayed asleep for quite a while. She was very lucky physically but mentally was severely unwell and spent a few weeks in hospital again. That Christmas was the first time we thought it was possible she was dead. She hadn’t disappeared like that before. She was spiralling again but her starting place was a lot lower.

After that, the promise we had always had from her that she wouldn’t kill herself felt a bit empty. We all knew deep down that she wanted out. I thought I’d known the true meaning of fear but until this point in time, I’d had no idea.