Wednesday, 3 January 2018

T is for Therapy

I know I know. I promised you some happy thoughts and positive things in my last post, but things haven't really panned out that way. Anyway, who wants to read about positive things?! We're all suckers for the bad news. Besides, life gets in the way. And death too.

Shortly after that post last year, I found myself in a very unusual situation. Someone I had been seeing over Christmas passed away suddenly after taking a legal high, and the whole thing was kind of like an episode of Black Mirror - the Tinder special. (They should do one on legal highs. Don't take legal highs kids.)

We had been getting pretty close, and things were going well - at the end of January, I'd returned from a trip to climb Kilimanjaro (more on this later) and we'd spoken nearly every day. In the run up to us seeing each other again, he explained he wasn't doing great mentally, but was looking forward to seeing me. On the day we had arranged to meet, he messaged me at lunchtime to say he was getting in the shower and would see me after I finished work. That was the last I heard from him. He passed away two weeks later.

The whole thing was a cluster fuck of emotions. What was I supposed to feel? Am I allowed to be upset? Can I go to his funeral? Was there something I could have done to prevent this whole thing from happening? Am even allowed to think that!? I'm just a girl from Tinder. Can I talk to his friends? I'd not even known him a couple of months.

I've since come to terms with the fact that actually, there is no right way to feel about that scenario, or death, or sadness, or relationships, or life in general. Sometimes shit things happen. But it was this particular shit thing that made me realise enough was enough, and I needed help.

After his funeral, I started therapy. It was time to talk about me. And Dee. And try and get my head around the fact that you're grieving for a person whose presence is gone, but they're still present. I'd been dealing with a lack of closure in Dee's Alzheimer's for years, and it was the lack of closure from my personal episode of Black Mirror that pushed me to talk.

Every time you see your sick loved one, it's like having to say goodbye to a different part of them. First it's their homemade beef pie which they can't quite cook anymore, or their dress sense, then their logical conversation, then their memories of you, their memories of the house they live in, their smile... Oh how I miss that grin of hers.

This disease is savage. It's brutal, it's unrelenting and it's very tough to get your head around. I've cried a lot in therapy, I've cried in front of friends, cried on my own, cried at work, cried on train journeys... and I'm not the only one out there dealing with this who has probably done the same.

I've learnt a lot about myself over the last 12 months, and about dealing with my own sadness, other people's mental health, as well as Dee's Dementia... Mental health is so vitally important to us all. No matter what it is we're suffering with - depression, bipolar, addiction, Alzheimer's... we need to look after our minds. After all, what's the point of powering through a world where Trump's been elected President if you can't steal a little happiness here and there every now and again?

I've been lucky to have been surrounded by amazing, supportive people, living in a wonderful city, enjoying my life when I've been feeling great and lamenting my dying mother when I've not been able to do anything else. It's ok to not be ok all the time, it's ok to feel shit about it, it's ok to feel mad, and it's definitely ok to ask for help and to make sure you are supported too, no matter what your situation.

I'm still going to therapy. It turns out, I have lots to talk about. If there's one good thing to come from death, it's how it forces you to evaluate what you want from life, and how to make sure you're happy achieving it. I think Dee would be proud - I miss her every day... but that's ok too.