Now I’m a few months off of 24 and my mum has been gone for nearly two and a half years. I have a flat and a 19 year old and a cat – and they’re all my responsibility.
When mum passed away, everything sat on my shoulders. I organised, prepared for and paid for the funeral; I closed her accounts; switched everything into my name; took responsibility for Amy and Lily (sister and cat, respectively); and trudged on, trying to hold our lives together without letting myself grieve or acclimatise to the things that I lost.
Because, boy, did I lose. And I don’t just mean my mum. I lost my plans to move closer to London with my best friend, my freedom, financial freedom, ability to try for the career I want and being guilt-free when I do something for myself. It didn’t take long before I was in a really, really bad place. I was unhappy, lonely, comfort eating to a ridiculous degree (an ongoing battle in my life!) and I felt trapped and stuck. It was bleeding into every aspect of my days. I pushed people away, desperate to convince them that I was fine, that I could handle everything I had taken on. I couldn’t. There were people in my life that stepped back and left me to deal with everything when I needed that support, but there were also others that I couldn’t get rid of – neither was what I needed, but did I say so? Of course not.
But everything seemed to come down to my job. That was where is spent 9 hours a day, the thing that ruled my life and stopped me from being able to do the things I needed to do. So I left. It changed everything for me.
I went on holiday several times, spent time with my sister and my friends, went to book events and became a part of the UKYA community again. When I think of the possibility of not taking that terrifying step I shudder. I don’t know what would have happened, but it probably would have ended with me in hospital. I needed that time to settle myself again. To re-learn how to be a big sister (and a sort of mum, I guess). I needed to come to terms with what I'd lost, but also with the things I've gained. I have no doubts about who and what I want in my life now.
This horrible time of my life has taught me a few things:
- You need time for yourself.
- Take the signals your mind and body are giving you seriously.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Life is unbelievably short – go tell your mum you love her. I didn’t say it enough and you never know when you won't be able to anymore.
- There will be several days each year that even getting out of bed is unbearable: Mother’s day, her birthday, and the anniversary. Doing something you love on those days helps more than I could have imagined.
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