Mental Health

They told me that 1 in 3 people will be diagnosed with a mental health problem. I nodded.

They told me that depression is a serious illness, and you can’t just ‘snap out of it’. I nodded.

They told me that the stigma of mental health needed to be broken. I nodded.

And then mental health started swallowing the people closest to me, and suddenly nodding wasn’t enough any more. This was real, and nobody ever taught us how to cope with that.

I think, I calculated when drunk last night, that there’s around 10 people who I’m not sure I could live with out. I think half of them have an issue with mental health. Eating disorders, self harm, depression, and other variations much more complicated than I’m ever able to understand. Some days, even for me, it can be a battle of fear to get up. Im terrified of a slip that will mean I lose them forever. I’m worried about them, and I think about them all, every single day.

And then, in ways much much less serious than my friends, demons started swallowing me, too. I’ve never admitted that to myself before. I’ve never accepted that in my own little way, I’m not normal. But it’s true, and I’m very lucky that right now, my life is going very well for me! This past 6 months or so has been awesome.

But mental health, especially when it concerns those who you really care about, is scary. I wish I’d written this post when I thought of it. Last night’s panic wouldn’t have happened if not for the alcohol, and 100 meters of darkness. Last night’s panic wouldn’t have happened if I’d had written this post last week when I first thought of it. Last week, when one of my very good friends took an overdose, and tried to commit suicide.

It’s scary. It’s absolutely crushingly scary, but I carried on with awkward laughter through my last week at university. And then I realised that I also had a million deadlines, and I wonder why I’ve had a headache for a week!

I’m lucky to be able to say that it wasn’t the end. My best friend told me, a long long time ago, that if it’s not okay, it’s not the end yet. Perhaps one day the end may come while it’s not okay, but for now, we have to live our lives with hope. I have to jump back onto the mountain that I fell off last week, stay as positive as I can, and bash out another set of exams, just like I did in January.

Sometimes you need to cry, and that’s okay. That’s human. Especially when it involves close friends and mental health. Life was never designed to be easy, but it’s a shame that school never made us better prepared for these situations, when they rolled off their facts to a classroom of nods.

Now, in my degree, when before lecturing on schizophrenia or depression, they give us those same basic facts that they told us in school, I don’t just nod. I breathe, I swallow, and I think, love and hope. It may just be facts for many of you, but it’s my reality, and I wouldn’t change my friends or family for the whole entire world.

Ache

Hey, you! Best friend! I love you, stupid!

Don’t forget that okay?! You mean lots to me and I miss you every single day. Last year, I used to get upset. I was afraid, I guess, that something would happen and you wouldn’t be there any more. Of course, that wasn’t true. You’re always here to stand beside me and to giggle with the morning after a night out (yep, that’s got to be the best bit!).

This year has been different. I’ve been a lot more confident, in everything. I think that a lot of that has stemmed from the confidence in our friendship. I know you’re here, and that’s it. I know that when I see you again nothing will change, we will laugh, I will cry, we will worry, we’ll dance, and everyone will ask if we are a couple (lols, just no!). When I said goodbye to you this weekend, I knew it probably wouldn’t be six months until I saw you again. Of course I was sad, but not sad enough to hurt me. We hugged, we promised to Skype, and I skipped off.

Now though, I’m absolutely aching for you. I feel as though I miss you with every bone in my body, and that’s something that I haven’t felt so far in second year. It’s a little like last year, but there’s something that I can’t quite pinpoint that isn’t the same. I’m not hurting. I know you’ll be back, and I know when I inebetably need you on results day you’ll be there (hell, my next step is to call you ‘just for a chat’ – I’d love to be spontaneously confident enough to do that, and I’d love it even more the day you called me out of nowhere!). It’s not helping though, it’s not making the aching feeling in my chest go away. It’s like I’ve realised all over again exactly how much you mean to me and I just want to share that with you. I don’t want you to be hundreds of miles away, because I’m coming down from our amazing weekend and reality and a lack of laughter is slowly hitting me, and it’s hitting me hard! I’m not hurting, and I’m definitely not afraid. I’m simply aching.

Perhaps I’m finally learning the true definition of ‘I miss you’. What do you think?

Up, Up and Away

To me, flying is a bit like goodbyes. They both make me feel the same kind of way, and I guess that’s a little bit strange.

But today, I said goodbye, and I flew.

I may have been flying home, but I was flying away from safety. That’s rather scary, too. I was flying away from my one source of trust, hope, and love. I was flying away from friendship, and flying back to my home, soon to embark on my second year of university. I was afraid, and I was upset. I miss my best friend always, and I was terrified that  the return of education may cause anxiety may overtake my life like it has done so many times before.

But that was nearly four months ago now, the day that I flew and said goodbye. That was the day that I left my best friend, and a mere few days later I started university again. Compared to last year, this semester has been more than okay, and it appears that the worry in first year was for nothing. Hell, I’ve had ups and downs. Don’t we all? But I made it, I’m alive, and another semester has been survived.

I saw that friend again today, and once more, I said goodbye. It’s strange, how each goodbye pangs in your heart a little less than the one before. I guess that with each goodbye, a hello soon follows, and I’m learning that she’s not going to abandon me. I’m okay and we’re strong and we are well and truly in this together.

Yes, I’m worried about going back to university to take my exams, but I know it will not be impossible. I’ll manage. It’s strange, but this time, I’m feeling a tiny spark of confidence deep within me that no matter what happens, it’ll be okay. People love me, people care about me, and while I have high expectations of myself and even bigger dreams, I’ll work my hardest and the exams will pass and we’ll move on. A percentage isn’t all that I’m made of.

Perhaps I haven’t worked as hard as I should have this Christmas. Perhaps I will panic and fret and get worked up and stressed, but for now I must enjoy my last night at home.

I don’t feel well and I cannot concentrate on the cardiovascular system tonight. I feel sick. I’ll do some more tomorrow, before I take my train.

Goodbye home, goodbye safety, goodbye comfort, goodbye best friend. I’ll miss you, but I hope to see you super duper soon! Stand by me, please?

I’m wishing for hopes and dreams, I’m wishing for concentration, I’m wishing for early morning text messages and silly letters in the post. I’m wishing to smile during exam season, the season that is the hardest for me.

I’m wishing that somehow I’ll get through this with more drive than I usually do, to stay happy and to not let the exams drag me down.

Goodbyes are hard. I’ll miss you.

Five Years

Five years, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t really that long. But when you look at it that I’m twenty in a few months, five years seems much longer – a quarter of my life in fact. And five years is the amount of time I’ve known my best friend, as facebook very kindly told us today.

There’s times when I wonder how we made it though that time: how did she ever put up with me? How have I coped with her? But the answer is simple, we care about and love each other more than the other realises. That’s what friendship is about, and I love and appreciate that more than anything else in the world.

Sure, we’ve had our ups and downs. All friends do, and it’s perfectly normal. We’ve got our happy memories and laughter, and we have our regrets. In fact, I have a lot of regrets. But it’s important not to focus on the past, and instead consider the future.

There’s been times when I thought I might loose her, either through pushing her away with my own silliness, or really, actually loosing her. Forever, and gone. Dead. I hate that word. There’s been nights that I’ve been terrified that I won’t see her in the morning, or that she won’t want me to care anymore and will demand to never see me again. There’s been many many nights that I’ve worried about her.

I wish I had a magic wand and could make it all okay, for both of us.

But I can’t, so what’s important is that I’m always here for her. She could call me in tears at 3am, and I wouldn’t care. Hell, I’ve called her in tears at that time. She could call me one afternoon and tell me not to ask questions but make her laugh, and I’d try my complete and honest best to do so. She could ask me to sit in silence with her just so she knew that someone was there, and I would do it. She’s done it for me. If she needed me to, I’d happily jump on a plane and see her right now. I’d travel wherever she needed to go. I would do absolutely anything, and I truly and honestly mean that from the bottom of my heart.

I miss her every single day and I think about her every day. I worry about her every day, regardless of how she actually is. I wonder how little parts of my day would be different if she was there, and sometimes there’s nothing I can do to make myself feel okay because I just need her by my side, and she can’t be there. She’s far away now, and I miss her. I miss her more than I should, or more than I’d care to let anyone know.

Because friendship is everything to me. So here’s to the next five years, and that thought brings the escape of the single tear that I’ve been fighting back for weeks. Because I’m very very lucky to have someone who means and cares so much.

Contented

I feel easy, free, happy, warm and fuzzy. I’m content, and it’s beautiful. I always feel awesome after time with my best friend, it’s like a complete detox from the world. I think her awesome-ness just rubs off on me a little, and it makes me feel all glowing inside. I absolutely love it.

Despite an afternoon of a nagging brother, a very stressful day ahead tomorrow, and feeling very tired, I’m coping well with the world. I’m noticing little things today. I’m appreciating the little things, and I’m taking the time to float around on my little happy cloud and to just be. No expectations, no anxiety, just being.

I did a good deed today. I went to the supermarket, and as I walked from the far end of the car park, I watched the people climbing into and out of their cars, busying themselves and going about their day. Being such an introvert, I love to people watch. It helps me to figure out the world and to learn a little about people, to try and understand people, and what makes us who we are. To understand what makes my best friend so caring, and some other people so disgusting. Sadly, it’s something I don’t often get time to do. I lead a busy life. But today, on my happy cloud, I found time. I noticed, whilst walking through the supermarket carpark, two ladies. One, elderly and struggling to walk, and the second presumably her daughter. They’d just loaded the shopping into the car and whilst the older woman struggled to climb into the back seat, the younger one was trying to negotiate two trolleys into some kind of organised form so she could transport them back. ‘Hey,’ I said ‘Would you like me to take those for you?’ She was speechless. I took them, and as I walked away I heard them discussing how nice it was. That made me smile, that I could make someone else happy, and just prove to one more person that not all teenagers are the same. We’re not all the stereotype.

Colder Weather by Zac Brown Band. I’ve fallen in love. It’s not the only thing I’ve fallen in love with this week – look at this, it’s not surprising that I’m chilled!

 

But my best friend is awesome. Nobody else on earth makes me feel this good about myself. She’s looked after me again, and taught me that people will always care about me. She’s reinforced my ‘okay-ness’ and I can’t thank her enough. She’s a shining star, that girl, I only wish she could see it.

I owe her a thank you. Her, and her flat mates. They made my time full of laughter, and made me content that I can socialise if I try. The world is fairly safe.

In my content-ness and warmth, I’ve been thinking. Thinking about supporting myself through the enevitable stress of second year; and also trying a variation of something I saw online. Every week, I’m going to challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone. Idea for challenges are needed, I’m going to write the list best week and I only have two or three things so far! Sometimes that’s going to terrify me and there’s weeks when I’m sure the task won’t end well, but even from 500 miles away, my best friend stands by my side.

And I’ll stand by her. Forever and always.

The Beginning of the End

I guess that you could say that today is he beginning of adulthood. I’m absolutely terrified. Today, I lost my security blanket. Just thinking about it is bringing me close to tears. I’m afraid to admit, even to you people out there in cyberspace, that this afternoon I’ve waltzed around the house singing at the top of my lungs. Of course, I was singing to hold back the tears. Distraction, and something else to think about for once. When I cooked dinner, I nearly slipped. I sang louder. I was okay.

Perhaps it’s more than just today, and it is more of an acumulation of things that has made me so upset. I’ve been starting to ‘think’ for a few weeks, and the pulling away of my warm and fluffy blanket this morning has sent my brain into spiral mode, thinking and thinking and thinking.

It would be a lie to say that some of that is not happy thinking. I remember some things and I smile, like getting drunk with a teacher and how amazing my design teacher was when I did my GCSEs. Things like getting my grade seven flute and a design student of the year award are awesome. Equally though, I hate this time of year. Summer, when you’ve been in school for 14 years, is a time of endings. It’s a time of moving on, growing up, and as of last year, it’s a time of horrible memories. But I don’t want to talk about leavers. I should, but that’s irrelevant.

I’m not leaving this year though, I left school last year, and not much will change when I go back to university to start second year. But the staff members who provided security to me  in my last few years of school and especially this time last year are going. Although we may say we go back to school for flute lessons and DofE, we know that we go back for safety, in reality. We go back to see familiar faces and to ground ourselves in knowing that however stupid adults are, there’s some who care, and when we were in school, there was someone to look after us, and if we ever really needed it, they’d be there again. But those people are leaving or have gone. As of September, we will have no reason to go back to school. We are loosing our safety blanket, and our school era is well and truly ending.

I feel horrific. I don’t want to grow up. All my life adults have let me download, pressured me, never understood me, and placed unrealistic expectations on my shoulders. I don’t want to be an adult, and I am terrified of not having those few who do care to keep me safe. People don’t want out for you when you grow your, only those cloest friends, and theh may be hundreds of miles away. Adults go it alone, and thinking about school and growing up is hurting inside.

It’s the beginning of the end. The beginning of getting old and growing up. As a kid, I used to cry on my birthday for fear of getting old and dying. That fear has never felt as real as it does now.

I’m losing the adults who care, and I’m terrified of loosing my best friend. I’m worried about her, and I wish she knew how much I care about her. I’d never tell her this, but there’s times when I hug her and I squeeze extra tight in the hope she’ll realise just how much she means to me and that I’m always here to fight by her side. She wont know, ahe probably thinks I’m clingy. Sometimes it may be because I need her to hold me tighter and to make me feel safe, but often, I’m just trying to show how much I care. Words were never my forte.

I don’t want to grow up. It doesn’t work like it does in fairytales. It’s just not that simple, and I’m not ready to face the real world yet. And I’ll never ever be able to face it alone.

I hope that forever I can keep my best friend, and we can be young together. We can be the adults for each other, taking it in turns to be care giver and taker, like we have been so often when the adults in our lives have failed us. Sometimes, we’ve cried together, but we made it. I hope that the beginning of the end, and really being an adult won’t be too scary. I left school a year ago, I turned eighteen ages ago. I should be fine. But I’ve learnt thay life is never that simple. There’s always a mountain to climb. Now it feels like I’m leaving, and it’s like last year all over again.

I need to talk. I really really need to talk. I need to take time to think and accept. I need to understand everything, not just leaving school and these teachers leaving. There’s lots of things happening to and around me right now that I need to contemplate. 
I hope it’ll be fine. I hope she’ll be okay. I hope I have chosen the right path and am doing the right thing. I hope I can smile and have fun. And if I can continue to hope, it will be fine, because without hope, we are dead.

What I Want to Tell You

I want to remind you that I’m here for you, and I want to remind you that I care. I need you to know that I love you, and you mean so much to me, that I simply cannot find the words. You make me laugh and smile, you know when to mess around and wind me up, and when to stay quiet, hug me, or give me advice. It means more than anything in the world. This friendship is crazy, and there’s times when I’m not even sure how it happened.

I want to remind you that I trust you. I trust you with my life, and there’s been days that I would not have made it through without you. I know that if I ever needed you, you’d be there. It’s just a phone call or a plane ride. You’re never more than a day away.

I want you to know that you taught me to be confident, to believe in myself, and to start to learn to be positive. You’ve done more for me than many adults have. You’re wise beyond your years. You’re a listener. You care. You give the best advice.

Most of all, I want you to know that you can trust me, too. I want to remind you that you can tell me anything, and that I love you to the moon and back. Nothing will ever change you, because I have already defined who you are. I already know that you’re beautiful, funny, kind, and silly. I know you’re awesome, and nothing is ever ever going to change that.

I want you to know that you can call me, anytime. You can laugh, you can tell me funny stories, you can be drunk, you can be sober, you can be sleepy, happy, upset, or angry. I may not always be able to find the words, but I’m always here to listen to you. I want you to know that if you need it, I’m here to hold your hand. I’m here to fight by your side. I’m here to wipe away the tears. And when you don’t need it, I’m here to just be present while you’re angry, or to laugh with you when you’re happy, or to be excited with you when you graduate.

No matter how bad or good anything gets, or how far away I am, nothing changes that. You can always trust me, just like I trust you. I’ll wait until you’re ready, I’ll wait forever if I have to, but I’m here to be by your side. Always and forever.

So maybe you didn’t want me to know about therapy. Maybe you did and your hints were your own way of telling me without having to talk. Maybe I got it all wrong and you did want to talk. I don’t know. I’d like to know what is going on, I’d like you to trust me, because it breaks me every single day to know that you’re hurting. But I want what’s best for you, and perhaps telling me is too much. Just don’t forget that I’m here when you’re ready. Nothing will change that. You can’t change that. I’m ready to listen, and I’m ready to do whatever you need me to, or even the things that you don’t need me to.

I’m here to wipe away tears. I’m here to listen. I’m here to chat for hours on the phone, or even to sit in silence if it helps to know that I’m here. I’m here to eat ice cream and watch movies and play card games at 3am. I want you to know that I’m your friend. I want you to trust me, so please please try. I may not show it, but I think and worry about you every single day. Even now, you may claim that you’re okay, but nothing is ever just okay, and when you care for someone as much as I do you, the things you keep quiet are not forgotten. You don’t have to be okay, I’m your friend. I’m safe, like I know that you’re safe. I couldn’t live without you. I want you to know that. So don’t forget it.

Talk to me. I’ll wait as long as you need.

Disappointed

Do you have a friend who you would go to the other end of the earth for? Someone who you love unconditionally and would do anything for? Someone who isn’t quite like the others, and understands you in a way that nobody else will ever be able to? I do.

But I’m starting to think that perhaps I don’t understand friendship. That perhaps this is all very one sided, or something. I’ve got it wrong somewhere, because it just doesn’t work. I’m not sure that I even know what a friend is anymore. Maybe I’ve never known, maybe I’ve always been wrong. I just wish I’d figured that out before I got myself in too deep, because now I cannot turn back. I’m hurting, and I can’t change it.

I remember back to last year when at the last opportunity of seeing her before she went to university five hundred miles away, her mum didn’t allow her to go. I didn’t see her. I never got to say goodbye. I remember when we came home at Christmas and I was late taking her back home after coffee by about ten minutes and her mum was livid. And then Feburary, when despite that we had trains booked for her to visit me, the day before she came she changed one to go home earlier to help at her mums request. I always thought it was her mother. I feel awful that I’ve always held a slight grudge against her. Now I think that perhaps my friend just doesn’t want to see me. I wonder why she doesn’t just say.

I’ve never coped well with change, or changing plans. She knows that. But still they change, and still each time I expect them not to. But she doesn’t. She cancels, she changes them. It never works anymore. It’s no fun anymore.

All I wanted was to be normal. To have fun, to laugh and to smile. I just wanted to be like teenagers should be without tears and frustration. I just wanted one night. We’re done with university for four months, and I asked for one night. To be friends.

But yet again I’m crushed. Stupidly, I allowed myself once again to believe that once plans were made, they couldn’t be changed. But they’ve changed.

I don’t know. I’m clearly in here too deep, aren’t I? There’s a skew in understanding of friendship. Hers is very different to mine, and I often wonder if she actually really considers me a friend at all, or perhaps just someone who interferes, gets emotional too easily, and needs a shoulder to cry on once in a while. Maybe that’s why she doesn’t want to see me anymore for longer than she has to.

I would go to the end of the world for her. A few months ago I paid way more than I should have to visit her for an hour. I blew a weeks food budget. But I missed her, and I took the opportunity while I could. I thought I’d see her tomorrow, and tomorrow night. I thought I had managed to find 24 hours in four months where we were both free. But she’s not staying. I’ll only see her for an hour. She can’t come back to mine because she can’t pay the £2 bus fair home. She’s saving to pay for something big and every penny counts, she says. It’s strange that she finds time and money to go camping with other friends, or nights out, or to see her university’s friends when they come to England. But not me. She probably knows I’m hanging on too tight and whatever she says I can’t bring myself to let go. I love her too much and I will hold on forever to keep her in my life.

I’d just drive her home, but its not me that pays for petrol and I know my dad will be frustrated if I do. It would cost half as much for her to get the bus, and he’s annoyed that I always am the one to give people lifts and ferry them around. I don’t want to annoy him on Father’s Day weekend. He’s my dad.

I’d just stay at hers, but my brother needs the car. Besides, I specifically said I wanted her here to show her my new room and new running route. I don’t chose to live fifteen miles away!

I’m tempted to just give her the bus money. But it’s too late now. She would only stay because I was forcing her to. If she wanted to stay, she’d find £2. It will be no fun if she doesn’t want to. She doesn’t want to. It’s not mutual anymore. I’m broken. But I still want to put £2 in her hand and solve the problem. I miss her.

Perhaps I’m not worth it. Sometimes I sure feel like I’m not. I’m not worth the two pound bus fair. Our friendship isn’t worth that. And I was so excited. I got my hopes up. I sure as hell should have learnt by now, shouldn’t I?

And whilst a part of me wants to get angry and annoyed, and shout and scream that it’s not fair, part of my wants to stamp my feet and kick and tell her that she lets me down like this every time we have a plan, I won’t. If anything, I need to teach myself a lesson. I need to get over it. I won’t tell her that she has to stay and she can’t change the plan, because this is how it has always has been, and it won’t change her. She would be here because she thought she upset me, not because she wanted to be . That’s no fun! So instead, I can’t be like this. But it’s hard. She’s my friend. I wanted time with her this summer. I’m dissapointed.

I’m more than dissapointed, but I’ll try not to let that show. I don’t want her to know that I’m heartbroken and unconsollable right now. I’m trying to blame myself, it’s my fault. I don’t understand friendship. I’m not good with relationships and people. It’s all me. It’s not making it hurt any less though. She cancelled on me. Again. But I’ll see her for an hour. The time that she can afford.

It’s not fair, but there’s nothing I can do. I just have to be grateful what I have and instead, blame myself. It’s me that needs to change. 

But I love her. And she’s let me down. All I asked for was one night, but she let me down.

Freedom

I’m home, I’m free, it’s over. The first year of university is done, and somehow, I survived.

I’ve had a fantastic time, I’ve learnt so much and come so far in terms of positivity and confidence. I’ve learnt to make friends and to have fun. I feel like I’ve done okay and I hope the results will reflect that.

But for now I’m going to enjoy the freedom. I’ve gotten myself a summer job, I’ve got friends to spend time with and sunshine to enjoy. There’s fun to be had and the pressures are gone, so I must make the most of it.

For me, the freedom doesn’t happen that much. The pressures of exams provide a crippling pain and I’m bound by stress and fear. I’m keen to please, and deathly afraid of failure. But that is gone now.

Now, there’s walks to go on and ice creams to eat, there’s routes to run and nights out to have, plans to make and organisation to be done. It’s a four month summer and I must make the most of the freedom.

But am I really all that free? Or am I caught by the chains of my own existence? Trapped by the past and the future, a rabbit in the headlights and unable to escape. Unable to help myself, never mind others. Trapped. Bound. Afraid. Worried. Helpless.

The World Is Busy

I’m hot and it’s dark. It’s getting late and I need to sleep. But I’m stressed and I’m struggling. I need a friend, but there’s nobody there. I’ve been forgotten and it’s breaking my heart.

I’ve not had a panic attack for months. I cannot remember the last time I cried myself to sleep. I’ve been coping amazingly.

But tonight, I’m not. I tried to reach out, for someone to talk to. I realised that I have nobody. It’s gotten me into a mess. Today has been tricky. I’m stressed and unmotivated, and this evening I’m disappointed in myself. I need a friend. I need someone to be here for me, to care about me, someone to be positive for me, to tell me that it’ll all be okay. I need someone to believe in me. Because today, I cannot believe in myself. For me, that’s something that I haven’t asked for for a while. I need someone to love me. But there’s nobody there.

It’s strange how there’s people there to answer the messages they want to, or to be free when they need to, but not to be there when you’re screaming their name. There’s not many people I trust in this world. I don’t have many friends. Tonight, I need ones that I have. But I can’t find them, I can’t find any of them. I can’t find her.

I don’t want to cry myself to sleep tonight. But I can’t stop myself, because I need to talk. I have things I need to say. I need to let go. It won’t take long, it’s not serious. It’s silly, it’s exams. It’s ten minutes.

People can’t find ten minutes. The world is busy and the pace is fast. For me, time is slow. I need someone to talk to. But I’m alone. So the tears will fall, but I must sleep.

I hope tomorrow will be better. I hope that friendship and love can be found. It’s ten minutes. It’s a few simple words. It’s a text message.

But the world is busy.