Ever since I was about 12 I’ve struggled mentally. It all began when my mum was diagnosed with M.S.
Back then in the early 90’s there was no internet to research it like there is now. I didn’t fully understand the devastation it can cause like I do now. When mum got diagnosed it hit me hard. Really hard. Mainly because I knew she didn’t know what was going to happen. Being 12/13 years old at the time, you not only feel useless but lost too. My mum was poorly..
School were really good about it and gave me councelling sessions to help me get my head around the massive change all of our lives were going to experience.
We managed to keep a relatively normal life with mums illness. It became normal for us to help her walk, and if we went anywhere of distance we took her wheelchair. In September 1997, things took a massive turn for the worse. We were on our way to my cousins wedding in Bolton when we were involved in a car crash.
Looking back now, we really didn’t know how much effect that crash would have on my mum.
Although not seriously injured her illness excellerated so, so fast. She spent most of her time in that wheelchair, and couldn’t walk more than a few steps. The woman who I’d seen work 2 jobs at a time was now confined to a chair. Her mental capacity also started to dwindle. When we moved from the family home in 1999 her speech and communicating abilities were also starting to decline.
When we were told by her specialist in November 1999 that we were looking at “months and not years” it hit me like a truck. My mum, even though I knew she was ill was dying. And there was literally nothing we could do. She was refusing to eat and seeing the turmoil my dad was going through killed me. He didn’t want to say goodbye to the love of his life and made the decision that mum would have a “peg” fitted into her stomach to make sure she was getting some form of nourishment.
I’ve never said it before but for a while I hated him for that. I think she was more than prepared to leave us on her own terms. She had no quality of life bar the love we had for her. Those last 9 months of seeing her go through it was horrible. Mentally it destroyed me. But as always I tried to function, go to work, try and help where I could. My sisters were both in relationships, my brother had his girlfriend at the time too and my dad had his parents to confide in. And I felt so alone, I couldn’t go to my dad as he was being torn apart by it all too.
So in the typical way I buried my head in the sand. By the end of June 2000 mum had become so poorly she was in respite care up at Staunton Harold. A facility for families to have their loved ones go to give us at home a break. I was at work when I got the call to tell me mum had become really poorly and that she didn’t have long left. Dad pretty much stayed up there with her until I got the call. July 4th 2000 shortly after 11am, my queen had decided this world wasn’t for her now and had left us. As harsh as it sounds I didn’t cry. I told the carer that I’d let family and friends know (this was before the days of social media) I must’ve spent an hour ringing people up telling them that she had passed away.
I just felt numb. My mum had gone. I didn’t know how to function. Lost, alone and so upset I couldn’t bring myself to cry. I didn’t know what to do.
Even on the day of the funeral I felt so numb. And to be completely truthful I didn’t truly grieve for my mum. I spent so long trying to be strong for my dad I didn’t really care about anything else. By the time mum passed away I was the only one out of the 4 of us kids at home. I was constantly surrounded by her. I think that hurt more than anything else. I don’t know how my brother and sisters felt and I’m sure it was just as hard for them..
Not grieving properly has had the biggest impact on my life. Mentally I’ve been so bad that I just ignored signs of my ill health for years. Until 2007 when again I asked for help. Antidepressants and councelling sessions were arranged by my GP. Again they helped. But they would only allow me to have 6 sessions. I cried at every single one, like I’m crying now writing this. It helps, a good cry. Even if you feel silly doing it, it’s good for the soul.
So that’s pretty much where my battle with depression stems from. Anxiety and everything else came with me getting bigger and bigger. But the depression started way, way earlier than that.