Be you.

This blog is not an easy read, it’s a tough read but I hope if you do read it, you’ll find it is worth it. If you want to skip it then do it and don’t feel guilty!

It’s been a hard post to write, not least because I worry about how it affects those I love and know but also I have to write it …. for the people I love and know and also for those I don’t.

When your child dies…..and I’m sure for many other people who have lost a parent a sister, a brother a friend, a husband a wife, any loved one……but dare I say it…… maybe  even more so when your child dies and I put more emphasis on this because the point is so important……. for a parent…. our future is changed, forever, in that second.

When the consultant came into the side room of the hospital where we waited, in a part of the hospital I never knew existed, when as he opened the door in his blue gown, we held on to the one percent of hope, despite what we’ve seen, we hold on to the sliver that a miracle might happen, a miracle that might mean our  fourteen year old daughter has not died.  But.  When the door opens and you see the look of despair on the clinicians face, you see that despite his difficult job that this is one of his hardest days.  As he begins to spill out the words that begin with… I’m sorry…. you scream silently inside while at the same time inexplicably feeling empathy with this man who has had to tell two parents that their daughter has in fact, died.

In that second it isn’t only death.  It isn’t only loss.   As a parent it’s your whole future. Changed in that second. Gone. Altered. Disappearing dreams. Vanished.

I have mourned and continue to mourn for what I have lost, what future we have lost and this blog is about how I almost was not able to face the future without her.

Suicidal thoughts. Not something we talk about. Not something I’ve talked about much. I have a son who fills my heart and I would never ever ever leave him or hurt him and he is primarily why I struggled with the idea of writing this but equally young people need to know us older people aren’t perfect despite what we try to let them see, it’s not right not to talk about the deeply dark times – how else can they know it can be totally normal at times to feel this way and that there is a way out of it.

On occasion, over the years, I’ve allowed myself to imagine how it’d feel to be without the constant pain. Without the ache. Without the heavy tsunami of grief.  I have lived with the enormous guilt of these thoughts for the best part of the last five years until a very courageous person (thank you for letting me share this) confided their feelings of similar despair.  Of feeling suicidal.  Of not wanting to go on.   This person then gave me the confidence to share with them how I have felt on occasion and then during the last few months I have also shared these thoughts that I’ve had with three other people.  I have shared with them that sometimes the thought of not being here has passed through my mind.  I talked about the guilt.  I talked about the fact I would never do it to those around me.  I talk about how I wouldn’t do it but I had imagined it. I talked about how awfully guilty it feels just to have those thoughts at all.   I talked about how glad I was that I had eventually, talked about it.

Do you know what astounded me? Out of those people, every one confided in me that at some point in their lives they too had fallen to those levels of despair. Every one.  So, it’s either a huge coincidence or the truth is there’s a lot of people out there that have felt similarly and just don’t talk about it.

I thought long and hard about writing this blog. I know how it can affect my friends and my family and people I love but this is bigger than that. Suicide obviously kills. Predominantly it kills men and it doesn’t take much to work out why because men in general don’t share, don’t talk, don’t reach out. We have to find a way of talking about our mental health just like our physical health and we need to treat our mental health alongside our physical health. Understanding that what we eat and how we exercise and who we talk to and how we interact doesn’t just make us physically well,  how we live keeps us mentally well and sometimes we are all not mentally well, just like we can’t always be physically well.

When we are physically unwell we look after ourselves better, our friends and family help us or we visit a chemist, maybe a GP if it becomes worse and perhaps further on we may even need to go hospital. Our mental health is and should be treated just the same, however it isn’t . People don’t know if you don’t tell them and sometime people don’t know what to do so they stay away or they misinterpret your mental health problems for something else.. being quiet, being reserved, being moody.  Sometimes we need help for our mental health, that isn’t embarrassing to admit. It’s brave.

I got help.  Lots of it.  From multiple people – professional and not.  I still do.   I am very fortunate to have people who truly love me for the whole person I am. However had I not talked to them, they would never known I needed that help.

So talk please or if you are on the other side – listen please, because from my experience there’s a huge amount of people suffering in silence and sadly we probably all know at least one person who didn’t make it, someone who decided and went through with their thoughts.  Talking can’t solve everything but being silent solves nothing.  All it needed was for one brave person to open up to me about their feelings and I now feel I need to be open to others.

I’m well now.  Really well in fact. Happiest I’ve been in a very long time, I’m a little giddy on life and the reasons are many (x), with honesty brings clarity.  What I feel more than anything at the moment is that I am being me.  Truly me.

Be you.

Happy Sunday xxx

 

happy face

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T*ts up

I’m not good at asking for help.  It makes me feel vulnerable.  So if I ask for something it’ll mean I’m pretty desperate. I don’t know where it came from or why I find asking for help so difficult, I am fiercely independent, to my detriment at times.

I decided to write about this ‘event’ this week because of the sheer importance of it. Boobs. More precisely, boob checking!

It was about six weeks ago when I first felt a lump, I thought it’d go, I’ve had them before. I kind of forgot about it until someone told me about a radio DJ that was dying from breast cancer, same age as me.

So I made an appointment. I had an urgent referral to the breast clinic which was the Thursday just gone. I didn’t mention it really but I didn’t hide it either, work knew, some friends knew, it didn’t feel like a big deal.

I’ve tried to work out why I refused any support or why I didn’t ask for any support to attend the appointment.

I think actually that I am a victim of my own ‘mindfulness’. Something that I have practised for the best part of 3 years, living in the moment, not worrying about the future, concentrate on now, don’t stress about what you have no control over.

I’m fine I said, It’ll be fine, I’m fine to go on my own.

The nurse calls me in and cops a feel. Normally when I have had cysts before they are fairly reassuring straight away, she made some noises that it ‘could’ be a cyst but she seemed to be investigating for a long time. We need to send you for an ultrasound and a mammogram, we may need to do a biopsy, she said. I stayed in the hospital gown. There is something extremely vulnerable about hospital gowns isn’t there? I go to a tiny room with six other women who look absolutely terrified. The statistics tell us that one of us isn’t going to get good news today. Nobody really talks, most of us look at our phones.

I’m really beginning to wish that someone was with me, I have only just realised that in the next thirty minutes my life could change, I could be told I have cancer and I am here, on my own.

Stupid.

The mammogram was done, I must be lucky, it’s my third and I don’t find them to be painful at all, though there’s nothing flattering about being semi naked having your arms up and your boobs squished into the shape of toast into what looks like two vertical petri dishes while the young glamorous nurse takes pictures of you while instructing you to ‘put your chin up’.

I then go back to the small room and what seems like a VERY long time I get called in for an ultrasound. When I have had these before it’s always been a nurse but she calls in a ‘doctor’. I am immediately alarmed. Doctor?! Hi, he says and introduces himself, I take no notice of his name, I’m wondering why he is here. A doctor!! This is huge he says, this cyst is a big one. A cyst, I say. A cyst? Does that mean I’m ok? Oh yes he says but it’s a big one! While I am engaging my brain to become relieved I’m not going to die yet he asks the nurse to ‘pass the syringe’ over and as she does he says ‘not that one – the bigger one with the large needle’…. Erm, what are you doing?? I say! Just taking the fluid out he says. Is it going to hurt? Not really, he says. I lay there as a needle is put into my boob and into the cyst and 30ml of liquid appears in the syringe. It didn’t hurt, much.

I get up and thank the staff for their amazing empathetic and professional care, I go off to work promising myself that I am going to look after my body so much better from here on in (btw 21 days off the booze!) whilst also reminding myself it’s ok to ask for help sometimes, it’s ok to ask for support, I don’t need to do everything on my own.

Our NHS are bloody brilliant aren’t they, we are so lucky, it’s not perfect and it’s so under funded but when the resources are there its amazing.

I do have one gripe though, during my appointment the nurse kept referring to ‘women nearly 50’ and ‘menopause’.   I have no idea who they are referring to!!

Anyway you females out there, check your boobs please!!!

Happy Sunday xx

 

daisy

Dear Tes

I havent written to you for a while on here.

I saw this sculpture that was shared with me online by a friend … it initially took my breath away…. I’ve never seen anything that conveys what it’s like to lose you with so much honesty, passion and painful truth.

I look at it and it’s how I feel in a mirror image. A strong exterior.. but with a huge hole of grief right in the middle that spreads into every other part.

Recently I feel it most when I’m walking on my own. In the woods. I feel the leaves crunch under my trainers. I look at the height of the trees where a branch occasionally cracks under the weight of a hidden squirrel or a busy crow. I’ve learnt to fill my mind. It helps. But this is usually the quietest part of my day where I can’t always dull the ache in my stomach anymore.

I miss you and yet those words seem so weak and pathetic because of course I do. We all do.

I dont know why sometimes for days and maybe like now for weeks the cloud hovers. It’s not pelting down large rain drops or particularly black. It’s just above my heart making it harder to find anything really interesting or worth bothering with. It’d be so easy to get under the duvet and stay there but I don’t. I have always feared what would happen if i did. I wouldn’t. I couldn’t.

I was asked this week how I’d coped after losing you. I answered in a rather convoluted way because there’s no quick answer. As usual I feel guilty as i speak. For just being able to say that I found a way.

I finish the question by saying I never wanted to survive your loss by just.. surviving. There’s little point in that. I’m living. It’s bloody hard at times but I’m living. There’ll never be a day that I wish you weren’t living it with me too.

Love you Tes. In my thoughts and my heart. Every second.

Mum x

Love to you all too this Sunday x

(Sculpture – Melancholy, Albert Gyorgy, Geneva)

Where has Wonder Woman gone?

I’ve been deliberating whether to write about ‘this’ today because ‘this’ isn’t a happy subject. In fact that’s why most of us pretend ‘this’ isn’t going on because we don’t want to put ‘it’ on others.

So what is it?

There’s a few names I have for it… the black cloud, sadness, grief….my bad Tesni days seems to be the closest to how I properly describe it. It probably happens every 6 months or so. I think it’s a build up of what’s there that eventually has to surface.

It started Sunday night and it ended properly on Friday. It arrives with force. Tears. Lots of them. Wailing. Stomach hurting tears. Swollen eyes. Lack of interest in anything. Bed becomes the only place I want to be and I sleep. For the first time in months I sleep. Properly. Lots of sleep. I made myself work on Wednesday from home and Thursday I dragged myself back to work. I felt like I was walking around with water swimming in my head. Like I wasn’t really fully in the moment.

Not sure why I’m telling you this. I write about things in my life, what I see and feel. A lot of it is positive but I’d feel a fraud to not talk about the purely awful times too.

So how did it stop? Just like if I’d been physically ill I received a prescription. On that prescription were many things and eventually I got well again.

The first dose of medicine came from one of my oldest friends who happened to be back home. A hug. A chat. A glass of wine. It was a start. Secondly when I rang in sick I didn’t lie and say I had ‘a bug’ I told the truth. I was low and not coping. The reaction was just lovely. Almost every person I work with messaged me and when I got back I came in to flowers bought from the reception team and lots of hugs. My partner drove miles to see me in an already busy life even though I was no company. My dogs still insist I walk them and the rivers and trees distract me for a short time. I was taken out for lunch with mum and my boy. Despite being miserable they wanted to spend time with me. I saw my nephews for a short while and even though I couldn’t stay because I was going to cry I love seeing their faces. A phone call from my brother that I couldn’t answer. I knew he was thinking of me. Some photos put through the door from my sis in law which have made my temporary abode feel a bit more personal. Crazy friends who cycled 50 miles (yep!) to catch up. A text from someone I haven’t seen for too long to arrange lunch. A step dad who gives up his morning to help me and an uncle who swore a lot while doing it but got on with some diy at my house.

To be honest the list could go on. It made me realise that we can be very open about our mental health. In fact it was by being honest that I received so much help and although I’m rubbish at accepting help and am fiercely independent and determined to make every day a good one…. sometimes you just have to accept… as my lovely colleague Barbara said to me … for goodness sake Dwysan you’re not Wonder Woman!

The week has ended far more positively and there’s a couple of pieces of exciting news in terms of my house situation but I’ll have to keep some of that until next week… the biggest news is… I know the suspense is killing you.. …YES….. I have a BED!!!!! Hooray!

Bit of a ramble this week. Thanks as ever for reading. Have a lovely Sunday xx

Happy birthday! 

You may have noticed it’s been my birthday this week! I’m  of no massively significant age but I make a fuss of my own birthday! I get excited about my own birthday. I love opening cards and receiving messages. I get merry at the idea of a family get together with cake. Like a giggling toddler I rip open up presents and I love the dancing pink balloons.
Why?

I ask myself this. Why do I love my birthday? I’m getting older and wrinklier and my hips hurt now and again! My hair is speckled with some ‘alternative highlights’ and if I haven’t got my reading glasses with me it’s a major catastrophe.

In addition to this obviously I have no Tes. This week was the fifth birthday without her and all day I felt it like a heavy small but significant weight inside my stomach. I visited ‘her’ but as usual I get little comfort from her purple flowered plot with teddies and letters. Who would? I kiss the silver teddy with the letter T as I do ever time and I say …I hate you not being here. Then I blow her a kiss. And I leave.

So why and how do I still enjoy my birthday? I think the main answer is because I can.

 Because I’m healthy and I have super friends and a  partner who makes me smile and an AMaZInG son, and even a fab ex husband and his lovely wife and their gorgeous son in my life. I have brothers who tower over me that make me so proud. I’ve a mum that I’ve driven mad at times who loves me nevertheless and a step dad who is gentle and inspiring. I have nephews and a sister in law and grandparents and cousins and uncles and aunts.. . ……. and of course my lovely dogs.

I’m surrounded by hills and mountains and rivers and lakes and empty beautiful beaches . And there’s theatre and markets and galleries to visit.  There’s writing and painting and cycling and piano playing and photos to take.

This whole blog may be me, yet again, justifying how I can have fun despite what has happened.   Maybe I have to justify it to myself whatever the reason. This is why I like birthdays because ……I CAN.

Have a beautiful Sunday xxx

7th May x 

It should’ve been my daughter Tes’s 19th birthday today.  My blog really took off when I lost her just over 4 years ago yet as I had an incessant need to write.  Over time my writing has moved away from the rawness of my grief and shock,  as anyone who follows it will see it mostly unintentionally focuses on a moment from my week, an observation, usually something hopefully encouraging.  


It is has been the oddest experience to feel unimaginable pain on a daily basis, to carry what feels like an immovable heavy stone in my heart and a permanent ache in the centre of my stomach but to also be overwhelmed with the desire to make the most of life.  

It’s just a little blog from me today.  I could write a thousand words about the awfulness of grief, birthdays are the hardest I feel – it’s a reminder of what isn’t here.  In Tes’s memory though I accept the utter hardship of it but I refuse for her memory to be about her end.  She had a great and fantastic life. One filled with love, books and passion. A life that made me proud and one that I remain grateful for.  It is hard to accept that was her life but that is…. life.  Unpredictable.  Not straight forward. Not as you expect it.  Which is why the urge within me to keep living and not just surviving is so strong.  

Tes had a poster on her bedroom wall – ‘make everyday beautiful’.  The meaning of that will be different to so many of us – be it getting under the duvet with a film, walking on the beach, reading your book, running through the woods, being silent, being loud, being alone, being with friends – whatever it is that might make our day beautiful, it’s worth trying to make it that day.

Have a beautiful Sunday xx 

Backwards and forwards.  

During a very nice, relaxing Spa day with a beautiful friend on Friday I did a couple of things I haven’t done in ages. I READ at least half a magazine and I had a back massage!! Bliss! I love Psychologies magazine. Expensive but every page is worthy of your time and I get inspired to get on and do at least one thing after I’ve read it.


One article this week made me think about how we are often focussed on what we haven’t done and on what we should be doing next.  We don’t stop sometimes and think about all of our accomplishments big or small. I often berate myself for the bigger things like not yet having written *that* book to the smaller things like why I haven’t I replanted that hyacinth yet!  Or I’ll be giving myself a hard time for not running even though I’ve walked 4 miles that day.

So thank you to the magazine I’ve been able to concentrate on some things that I’ve accomplished rather than concentrate on everything I haven’t done. I’m not going to list them all because it feels a bit self indulgent but what I do feel proud of is still being able to smile and laugh and love. I drove to work so happy this week and met a colleague where I instantly of course start telling her how guilty I feel for being happy.  Slap yourself around the head right now was her helpful advice!! Then she hugged me.  One of my biggest accomplishments is finding and living a happy life after losing Tes despite the forever pain. And going forward I look forward to getting some of those things I haven’t done yet but I will really try stop berating myself for sometimes watching two episodes of Game of Thrones  rather than painting the front of my house!

It’s great to have ambition and goals but we also need to remember what we’ve done to get where we are now.

Happy Sunday x Dwys x