New Year’s Eve. My Facebook feed is full of long statuses from people, sharing their best and worst moments from 2015, thanking friends, wishing for health and happiness in 2016… etc.
I’m avoiding it because the more I read, the further away I feel from people. I feel so detached and separate from everyone and everything. Some of the posts make me smile because I know some of the battles people have faced and how far they’ve come. Others make me want to throw my laptop at a wall because however crap people’s years have been, I know they they’re going into 2016 with their Mum and sometimes it’s just doesn’t feel fair.
Reading last year’s ‘end of the year’ post, I hardly recognise the person behind the words. I’d had a crappy year – Mum had been diagnosed in February 2014 and we’d had at least two hospital trips in the months prior to December – but I remained hopeful, busy, active, and thoroughly involved in all sorts of causes and activities.
At the moment I feel kind of flat, and a little bit hopeless. I feel exhausted. I am sick of feeling so anxious all the time (I’ll probably explain more about this at some point but I’m still trying to work it out a bit for myself), it’s tiring, it’s painful, it’s absolutely exhausting. I’ve always been a ‘worrier’ and had anxious traits for years, but this is like something I’ve never known and at night when I’m lying in bed I can feel my muscles being completely tensed up and I have to consciously try and relax them in order to sleep.
I’m facing a lot of uncertainty at the moment. From the above paragraph you can possibly tell I’m not in the best of headspaces right now. This means that I’m not really in a place where I can return to uni and make the most out of my course. I’ve had appointments and meetings with various people, including the university open door team and the GP, and they don’t feel it would be helpful for me to return to studying in January. This means, however, that I have to move out of the place I’m currently living, lose a lot of the support I’ve built up and find something to do for the next 8 months… watch this space.
This year hasn’t been all bad. There have been lots of smiles and laughs amongst the sad moments. I have been astonished at the support and love I have received from friends – something like your Mum dying really shows you who your true friends are. I’ve had great fun looking after various people’s children. I’ve modelled for i-D magazine, started blogging for Huffington Post, and been on the BBC and ITV. Back to blogging; I’ve ‘met’ some wonderful people through my words and had the privilege to hear many people’s stories and be comforted by their kind words. I’ve also entered people’s newsfeeds – this blog has had over 14,000 views this year from 58 different countries, and that doesn’t include any hits on Huffington Post, which is absolutely amazing. I honestly feel so humbled, grateful and constantly surprised by how many people read my words.
There have, of course, been sad moments, difficult moments and heart-breaking moments. The hardest month, for me, was probably February. Seeing Mum decline so quickly and lose the ability to speak and move in a matter of hours, then saying goodbye to her unconscious body, only for her to return to us a few days later, was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to go through. Then caring for her as she built up her strength, and eventually lost it again was a period filled with constant worry. I was lucky that we had some brilliant conversations and shared lots of laughter together. I’m lucky that she was home in time for my 21st birthday – something my brothers will never have. I’m lucky that she could proof read my essays for me in summer. I’m lucky that we’ve had so much support from friends, family and colleagues.
I’m going to end this now, because although I’m buried under a blanket watching ‘Mock the Week’ reruns, most of you are probably doing something more fun and don’t have time to read an essay (this is already longer than I intended!). All that is left is for me to say, with all my heart, thank you to everyone who has been there this year – however small or great your interaction with my family. Thank you to everyone who has read and shared my words. Thank you for everyone who has believed in me enough to keep me going.
I hope that you all make the best of 2016 – whatever life throws at you. I hope it is a year of as much happiness and health as you can muster. I hope that if all else fails, you will find some peace, some time with your friends and family, and some smiles.