Scars

I haven’t responded to a Daily Prompt for ages. Ages and ages. Today I stumbled across it when I came here to write a post. It fitted my thoughts and feelings perfectly. It summarised what I wanted to write, so I am using the Daily Prompt today. It means I have to think a little less, and that will help.

I am revising for exams at the moment. One of my units is, essentially, about the brain. That of course means studying mood disorders: depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, the list goes on.

I find the brain so engaging and interesting and mind blowingly cool (excuse the unintentional pun). But that doesn’t make some of the topics any easier, when I have to revise them over and over again. Studying the brain makes me revisit memories, scars, I guess that you could say. It makes me remember things that I try my hardest not to think about. It pulls at my heart and pushes me over, and it breaks me. I’m trying not to let it break me. This is science, and it doesn’t have to involve looking back at the things that hurt me, but it does. I just can’t help it.

Leavers dinner, afternoon’s in coffee shops, summer drives, tears, late nights, fear, worry, love, pain, friendship.

It hurts. I’m trying not to cry. I have to take an exam on this. I have another three weeks of revision to get through before that exam. But memories are impairing my revision, and I need someone so badly to come and hold me and tell me that I don’t need to worry about the past. I want to be safe, and I want everyone else to be safe. But nobody is ever really safe. Everyone is haunted by their past, scars never go away, mental illness doesn’t go away, and it makes me fear for so many people in my life.

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.

Feeling Weird

I’m feeling weird today. I think I’m probably just overtired, but today, I don’t want people, I don’t want work, and I don’t want stress. Today, I want to sit on my own, in the dark. I’ve cried today. I cried at university, right in the middle of one of the eating places. I was on my own, in the sense there was nobody I knew, but there were plenty of strangers around to watch me.

I wanted to go to bed early tonight, but I have to wash up. Perhaps I’ll leave some for the morning. I don’t know yet.

I hope I’m just exhausted, I hope that this isn’t a crack in the beautiful positive life I’ve been building recently. Today, even my Rainbow unit didn’t make me happy. I had a constant ringing in my ears, a dizzy feeling, and as soon as I got on the bus home, I felt an overwhelming feeling of sleepiness.

I cannot do today, and I cannot do people. I can’t concentrate on work, and I’m afraid that this may be slipping back in as a habit. I know that this is anxiety taking it’s toll. I’ve been learning all about anxiety, depression, OCD, everything to do with the brain. The lectures make me uneasy, but I hope it will help me to accept some of my feelings, and some things about myself that are simply fact. I don’t know, I had been doing so well. I’ve been so positive and happy that this feeling terrifies my even more, and I can feel myself entering a cycle again.

I had been doing so well, but not today. You can tell, this blog doesn’t make sense. I’m jumbled. I don’t think straight when I feel this way, and that’s why I can’t work. It’s 7.45pm. I’m going to bed soon. I need to talk, to write, something.

Writing isn’t helping today. I don’t feel any relief when I’m writing this. I have a fear that I may just burst at any second.

Please, someone help me, before it’s too late.

Resolutions

It has been three months since I last wrote on this blog, and I feel like perhaps, with 2016 upon us, it is in need of a little bit of love. I have forgotten to write, banished it from my life in the hope that I would be free from the memories that this blog carries with it. I wanted this year at university to be different. And it has been, and I love it, but we can’t just forget the past, and I mustn’t forget how important this blog has been to be in times of need. As exam season approaches again, I need to find the time to blog, and to be who I am on my own, not when I am surrounded by the madness of everyday life.

A lot has changed in the last few months, and this year, I know I have achieved some of the goals on my bucket list. I’m proud of how far I’ve come this year, and I’m proud of my friends and family, too. Each and every one of them.

Today however, is the start of a new year. I guess the norm would be to set resolutions. But do I really have any? I have things I’d like to achieve this year: get my Rainbow sleepover licence, pass all my exams, have a fabulous start to my placement, just to name a few. Resolutions, though? Changes? I don’t think so. Is change really all that important? Of course, because change happens around us all the time, but equally I don’t feel like change is something that I can actively control, and I am beginning to accept that. I could make a resolution to be happier, but whilst there’s things I can do to encourage that, there’s far too many factors outside of my control.

Instead, I plan to wipe a few more things off my bucket list, try my hardest in everything that I do, and make the most of every second that I have, especially with those who mean the most to me. A new year shouldn’t be about forced changes. I don’t want to be one of those ‘new year fitness’ type people, and I won’t be.

Because as I told someone very late last night, I’m not cool. I don’t want to be cool, and I don’t care about being cool. I don’t need to be just another human clone, fitting into society as society has forced us to feel as we should.

I am me, and I’ll always be me. Nothing can change that.

A Busy Summer

It’s been a busy summer. A summer filled with a new job, lots of volunteering, fun, excitement, laughter, tears and memories. I’ve been tired, and I’ve worn myself out. Many times, this two month break since I wrote my last post hasn’t been from lacking the inclination, but simply just that sleep took priority. Other times though, I’ve needed to blog, but I simply could not find the words or the heart, like I was frozen, and I couldn’t allow my brain to write because then those things that were spinning in my brain would become true.

I’ve had many a sleepless night, just thinking and worrying. I’ve always been a worrier, and nothing will ever change that. I simply care too much to stop the worrying. People, places and memories just mean too much, and that makes me feel safe. I don’t really want to change. While worrying can be accompanied by fun and friendship, I have no need to change. This is who I am, and I don’t want to hide it anymore. At least, I don’t want to hide it from myself, everyone else is a different matter entirely.

This summer though, has been awesome. My job has pulled in a couple of hundred pounds a week. I’ve organised a camping trip as part of my Queen’s Guide, I helped at a Guide camp that was short of leaders, I volunteered at a county Guide day and took my Rainbows to a county day, I did my first week as a volunteer at a kids summer camp I used to adore, I spent copious amounts of time wth friends, I’ve caught up on my flute lessons and my grade eight is slowly drifting into sight. I’ve still got more fun to come! I’m running a meeting for my own Rainbows, I’m organising a fun day for 60 kids, and of course, I’m going to Scotland to see my best friend. I am beyond excited!

I’m a little nervous too though. I’m worried that I won’t be organised enough to get everything done. I’m afraid that in just over two week’s time when I go back to university, I won’t be ready. I’m worried that things will go wrong. But I have a million other worries too, about everyone else in my life. But I’m sure it’ll be okay, because everything works out okay in the end. I was less than 1% away from a 1st last year, and so just by working a tiny bit harder, I have the potential to achieve something that I want so badly.

And that positivity is new. I’ve never really been postive, but the fact that I’m learning to gives me hope, and hope is what keeps us alive.

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.

Miss You Already

Have you ever had this thing where someone doesn’t realise how much they mean to you? Where they’re simply obvious to the impact they’ve had on your life? They just don’t get it, and you feel a bit silly really for feeling the way that you do, but equally, there’s nothing you can do to change that feeling.

Tonight, as a I said goodbye to a girl who I may never see again, this happened. I was trying to pull my ‘I’m perfectly fine’ face, but it must have been pretty obvious that I was fighting back tears. She held me super tight and said goodbye three or four times. But she asked if I was okay. She asked if there was something I needed to say, or something that was bothering me that I wanted to tell her about. I shook my head. What could I do? I couldn’t stand there and say ‘Yes, it’s you. I don’t want to you to go, I’ve no idea how I’m going to manage second year without you. Who will leave me giggling for hours and text me before each and every exam to say good luck?’ I think she was worried about me. She genuinely thought there was something wrong. I just didn’t want to say goodbye. I watched her walk away and as soon as she was out of sight the tears began to slide down my cheeks.

She’s had a massive impact on me in the short time that we’ve been friends. She makes me laugh and smile and it’s fun to be with someone who hasn’t figured out all my little quirks yet and so treats me at face value. It’s fun to have someone to have fun with, and it’s amazing to spend time with someone who loves Guiding just as much as me, and thus is rather similar to me.

I think I may have said before that it was time to say goodbye to someone. Today was that day. We had a mutual event this morning and this afternoon we headed to her house at about 3pm with no real plans but to have fun. We made fudge, watched a movie, walked through the coolest tunnels I’ve ever seen (lights and classical music!), found a geocache and wrote our names together in the book, took the obligatory selfie, and walked into town to eat fish and chips on a bench. It may not have been the meal or night out that we had originally talked about, but it was cool. We talked non stop and had a chance to have fun and most importantly, gossip.

She’s awesome. Anyone who claims that growing up isn’t a requirement of life at all, not even eighteenth birthdays, 21st birthdays, or graduations, is worth sticking around. She’s made me smile so much this year, and my heart is breaking to watch her go. Next year won’t be the same. She won’t be here. The friendship may not have been long, but it has been amazing.

Goodbyes are horrible. This goodbye hurt. In fact, this goodbye hurt nearly as much as the goodbye I said to my best friend last summer. It’s not often you find a good person. It’s not often you find someone who really cares. I may never see her again, and that’s tearing my heart apart. In two years, she may not even remember my name. But I’ll remember hers. She may not realise, but she’s made the last few months so much easier.

I need a hug. The halls are empty, the silence is deafening, and it feels like the tears might fall again.

Goodbye, and thank you. One day, I hope I can be like you. You’re amazing, and I really truly mean that. I wish I could tell you that. I wish I could tell you how good you’ve made me feel recently. But I’m not brave enough, and so the goodbye was simple. It’s done, you’re gone, I miss you already.

Goodbye

I hate saying goodbye.

As I climbed into bed last night, once again I was fighting back tears. This time though, they weren’t ‘completely on the edge of a stress related breakdown’ tears. I guess you could say they were happy tears. But they weren’t really, they were sad tears. What they definitely were was ‘tipsy after a couple of drinks and an awesome night’ tears. They were goodbye tears. The ones where you remember silly things and laugh, but then you realise you may never get to do those things again and your chest aches.

Over the last few months I’ve become extremely friendly with someone in final year. We went for drinks together last night to celebrate the end of her exams. It was cute. It was very very cute and I really enjoyed myself. But although I know I’ll see her once or maybe twice more before she leaves, I really don’t want her to go. She’s made the last few months of uni so much more fun, and so much easier. She’s cared about me, and while she’s dragged me into all sorts of things that I never intended to spare my time for, she’s absolutely lovely.

She’s the girl who I said I wanted to be like in a few years time. After a night of laughter, I was sad when I got into bed last night. I don’t want to say goodbye, and whilst I cannot wait to see her again in a few weeks, I know that will be the final time, and I’m just not ready for it yet.

I’m struggling with words tonight. My head is all colours and patterns and I know I might struggle to control my thoughts and sleep. Why do people have to leave? Why do we have to grow up?

I hate saying goodbye. And if I’m feeling this weird about it now, I know I’ll be an absolute mess when the tine comes to say goodbye forever.

When I Grow Up

The last few days have been a struggle. The reality of exams has kicked in and it’s hit me, like I thought it would. This year has been a little different to the last few though. I’ve lived a life of lies, pretending that I’m okay, trying to be positive. I’ve done well. Most of the time, I’ve even convinced myself that I’m okay. Clearly though, I’m not, and the tears shed in the last few days demonstrate that pretty well.

This morning, I made a decision. Ironically, that decision had me listening to Matilda again, specifically ‘When I Grow Up’. Because I’ve decided that when I grow up, I won’t be like my parents are. A friend told me this morning that the world is bigger than university and exams so it doesn’t matter if you fail.

But it matters. Of course it matters, for so many reasons. I can’t fail. It’s difficult to put into words why, and why exams have always called me so much stress. I’ve never understood why I need to work so hard and achieve so highly. I’ve never been able to voice it, or explain to it to concerned teachers.

But in reality, I’ve always understood, haven’t I? Of course I have.

But when I grow up, I won’t be like my parents. When I grow up, I won’t put pressure on my children. Of course I’ll encourage them to try, to work, to put in effort, but I won’t ever allow myself to make my children feel how my parents have made me feel. I don’t want them to feel that I am putting pressure on them. When I grow up, I want my children to know that I’ll be proud of them for trying their best, regardless of if their best is an A or an E, a grade eight music exam or scoring a goal at football, giving a speech or saying their promise as a Rainbow, going to university or working in a local shop, inventing something that changes the world or overcoming a fear. I will be proud of them no matter what, as long as they try their best. It doesn’t need to be academic, it doesn’t need to help their university application, and it doesn’t need to earn them money. Because my children won’t just be a letter or a number or a percentage. My children will be people. Just like I am.

To my parents, I may not be a person. I may be a grade, or an expectation, but I’m learning that I’m so much more than that. I am a Rainbow leader, I am a volunteer for a children’s summer camp charity, I am someone who loves to draw, I am someone who cried with happiness after getting a merit in a flute exam, I am someone who would stay up all night if my best friend needed me to, I am someone who wants to cure cancer, I am someone who wants to watch the sunrise, I am someone who wants to run a half marathon, I am someone who wants to overcome my fears, I am someone who is excited to go to turkey next year with her best friend, I am someone who wants to learn basic piano and publish a children’s book.

Yes, I want a 1st or a 2:1 in my degree. But I must not let that define me. Because I am so much more than that. I am someone who tries their best, I am someone who cares for others, I am someone who has hopes and dreams, memories and photographs. I am someone who smiles and cries, just like everyone else.

I am someone that actually felt the need to add to her bucket list ‘take an exam without stressing’. I’m not sure if I will ever be able to. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to escape the expectations that my parents have set and the pressure that they have applied. But I’m going to try. I always try my best, and this won’t be any different.

Because when I grow up, I want my children to feel valued for who they are, and how can I teach them to do that if I don’t value myself?

So yes, perhaps I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself. But I’ve always been desperate to please my parents, and this is the only way I’ve been able to. When I grow up, I want to value myself for who I am. I want people to be proud of me for who I am, and not what is written on a piece of paper. It’s going ot take work, but I hope there’s people out there who care enough to help me.

When I grow up, I will be smart enough to answer all the questions that you need to know the answers to before you’re grown up. When I grow up, I will eat sweets everyday on the way to work and I will go to bed late every night. And I will wake up when the sun comes up and I’ll watch cartoons until my eyes go square and I won’t care because I’ll be all grown up.

Because even if you’re little you can do a lot. You mustn’t let a little thing like little stop you. And my kids won’t. Because they will be people. They won’t be grades. When they grow up, they’ll be exactly who they want to be and who they can be. Their best will always be enough for me, and nothing you can say will change that.

Thankful

On Wednesday I went to a high ropes course. I’m a bit of a strange one. I’m terrified of heights, but I always want to give everything a go. When it was suggested, I said I was afraid so shouldn’t go. ‘We’ll look after you,’ came the response. I could hardly turn down then, could I!?

I did okay though. At least, I did a lot better than I ever remember doing as a kid. I went third, out of five. I stepped onto the first wire tentatively, but no problems. I was distracted on the first bit by shouting ‘This is mildly terrifying!’ and the man misunderstanding my accent and commenting on the fact it was a good job that I wasn’t doing an English degree because ‘madly terrifying’ didn’t make sense. So, that puts me 1/7 of the way there. Second obstacle was a wire to walk along and hanging ropes to grab. That one made my heart lurch, but no problem. 2/7 of the way there. I sat on the weird swing like device and pulled myself along. Okay, it was weird and my upper body strength was only just up to the job, but I did it! By this point, this first person had finished the course and was shouting encouraging words at me. I commented that it felt like life coaching. I laughed. 25 meters off the floor and I actually laughed. Convincing myself that the next obstacle wasn’t much different from the first, I made it to the furthest corner from the start point. That’s when things started to go downhill. I stood for an undefined period of time at the wobbliest corner, staring at the rope loops and the hanging wooden logs, only large enough for one foot. I told that girl who was shouting encouragement at me that I hated her. She was the one who had persuaded me to do this. It took a while, but once I started, I asked about the bridge that I could see in the distance, walked slowly across and hugged the next pole like my life depended on it. Suddenly, I was 5/7 of the way there. The next obstacle is a bit tricky to explain without rambling on for hours, but after being convinced that I could hug the poles all I wanted and they were pretty sturdy (and they didn’t lie, they were sturdy!) I made it across, took one last leap, and reached the final post! I was so close! I was still telling the girl, we’ll call her Y, that I hated her. The last obstacle was always going to be a problem. It was just a beam, all I had to hold was my own rope, and I had to get myself across. That took a lot of coaxing. I was definitely definitely scared, and whilst I’d been making a conscious effort to control a panic attack since the weird rope loopy thing, I was now REALLY making an effort. Eventually, I went. My stupidly large feet didn’t betray me, I didn’t trip (as I do probably 15 times a day on flat ground!) and I was back! Yeyyyy! Although she’d been taking it all the way around, Y did just have to clarify that I didn’t hate her. Of course not! She gave me a hug, and for a second, I got that sense of security that I love about a hug. Boom, relaxed.

Somehow, they psyched me up to go again. This time, Y said that she’d follow me. After all, you can have two to a platform, and she said she’d be able to help me. Okay, no problem, I can do this, I’ve done it before. Next thing you know I was clipped in and standing once more on a precarious looking wire. Zip, zip, zip, I made it past the swing. I held onto the pole super tight while Y decided she was going to push off the pole before me to make her swing ride easier. Of course, that made the whole course shake. I climbed along the next wire, and suddenly, full of adrenaline, and laughing, I found myself back at that far corner pole with the weird rope loops and logs. Once again, I froze. Y decided to do the obstacle I just had done on one foot. That of course meant her jumping around on the rope, and really really REALLY making the pole wobble. By the time she reached me, I was full on panic attack, 25 meters in the air and no way back, with someone that whilst I know is a lovely person, I haven’t really known her very long at all, and I definitely never intended for her to see me like that. I was holding that corner so tight that I couldn’t let go, no matter how hard I tried. She was absolutely amazing. I’m sure it comes from being a cub leader. Or maybe that’s just why she is a cub leader. Somehow, she made me change my mind. I took the first step, my heart lurched, and slowly but surely, I made it across. The next bit was easy, the one where I could hug the poles!

And finally, I was back at that last platform, and the last corner. I was back at the bar with nothing to hold but my own rope. By the time X reached me, I was in tears. I wasn’t sure why. A mixture of fear, adrenaline, and disappointment, I guess. And a realisation that student scouts and guides is where I fit in. I feel safe, I feel like I can be me, and it’s beautiful. I’ve finally found my home at university, but I didn’t realise until I was up on that high ropes course with them, completely terrified with no way out. Even so, I didn’t want her to see me cry. I thought if I could stare hard enough into the distance and look deep enough into the mountains I could stop it from happening, or that somehow she wouldn’t notice. Of course, I was wrong. Again, she knew within seconds and climbed around the platform to face me. I turned the other way. ‘It’s okay, I don’t mind. You can’t hide from me anyway, the platform is tiny and there’s two of us on it! I really don’t mind, it’s okay. I know it’s hard if you’re afraid of heights, but I’m proud of you for giving it a go.’ I’m not sure if that made me feel better or cry more. Pride. You may know by now that pride is a tricky subject. It’s tricky for me to be proud of myself and it’s tricky for me to accept that others are proud of me. It makes my heart swell. It made me cry more. I don’t even feel like my parents have ever been proud of me.

She stayed there with me (admittedly, what choice did she have, but we can at least hope it was through caring!). Somehow, she made me laugh again (definitely she made me laugh an awful lot, I seriously don’t know how she managed it and I’m not sure if anyone else I know could have done!) and soon, with gentle coaxing, she helped me turn away from the pole. She held my harness tight, she reached for my hand and promised that she wouldn’t let me fall. Of course I know that if I slipped she wouldn’t be what would stop me from falling, but it made me feel safe. It still took a while but soon I was stood at the edge once more. I put the first foot on the beam, let go of her hand in favour of my rope, she told me that it was just baby steps (again, resisting tears here – that’s something my best friend says to me on my hardest days, and I miss that girl so much!), I shut my eyes and started walking. She didn’t let go until I was so far away that she had no choice.

I’d made it to the end. I was relived. I wasn’t sure why it was so much worse the second time, perhaps the adrenaline had worn off. I sat, away from the instructors and pulled my knees to my chest. Seconds later she sat beside me, checked that I was okay, told me once more that she was proud of me, and within minutes, had me laughing so hard that I couldn’t breathe. She said later that as long as I was laughing at least 51% of the time (which I sure as hell was!) then she had achieved what she was aiming for.

We did Jacobs ladder that afternoon. Me, her and another girl went up. Three rungs from the top I wanted to go back down. ‘Just one more?’ Suddenly, we were at the top. I’ve done high ropes and Jacobs ladder before, but I’ve never ever made it to the top of the ladder. Until this week.

She was lovely, all afternoon. Sadly my panic means that I can’t remember everything that she said and did or the timings, but I remember the important bits – the bits that made my heart flip. Sadly, I never got a chance to say a proper thank you. Of course I said it as I got out of her car, but somehow it didn’t quite feel right. But I am thankful. And I’ll always be thankful, to everyone out there who cares and loves, because they’re the most beautiful people in the world.