Saturday, 10 September 2016

When Rock Met Bottom.

You know the thing about hitting rock bottom is that you start to look at things in perspective. My life isn't bad, however there was a time when I thought it just wasn't worth living anymore. I felt like I had almost nothing to hold on to. I didn't have my health, my job, my independence, my family's health was bad and although my friends loved me I couldn't bare putting anymore of my drama filled life on them, especially my best friend. He had come with me to all my hospital appointments, checked on me when I had been ill, caught me when I passed out, held my hand when I had been in pain and hugged me when I cried.

There was this one day in particular. We had, had to drive to Epping so I could go to another hospital appointment, this one was a brain MRI, he sat with me while I bounced my leg with nerves and comforted me, he literally caught me as I passed out, out the front of the hospital, he drove and he was the calm in the storm, it had already been a Laura 'drama' filled day and it wasn't even lunch time yet. We talked in the car on the way home, I tried to tell him how much I appreciated all he had done and I apologised. He told me I didn't need to apologise, it wasn't my fault, he always said the right thing. Once we got home I had to chill after passing out, we sat on the sofa watching Bridget Jones because that's what I wanted to watch. Then the phone rang. I answered, it was my Mum. I remember the words my mum saying feeling like punches to the face. Mum had been diagnosed with cancer. I didn't know what to say or do. The conversation was short, I remember looking at him and thinking fuck. He was watching Bridget and I said "that was my mum, she's got cancer". I remember waiting for him to respond but he didn't, he didn't hear me he was too engrossed with Bridget, I warned him that would happen. He turned and looked at me and said sorry what did you say, "mums got cancer" I repeated, he just grabbed me and I cried. He hugged me and stroked my shoulder and didn't let go. I sat there and cried for over an hour, I cried until I fell asleep. He just sat and hugged me until Bridget Jones 2 finished, we started on number 1. The thing about that day is it was in the middle of summer it was so warm. So cuddling with anyone is not what you wanted to be doing, and when you cry you get all hot and blotchy and I wasn't crying I was sobbing, that silent cry that comes from deep within. And then I slept. He let me sleep, he knew I didn't sleep and even though he was sat there sweating he let me sleep and continued to hug me. He sat and let my cry into his t-shirt while he watched the chick flicks I wanted to watch. I tried to apologise but he just said it was all okay.

What he doesn't know about that day is that if it wasn't for him I would have given up that night. It was the straw that broke the camels back. I was heart broken. It's weird because even though we had spoken about cancer before, it had never been confirmed. No one prepares you for it. I'm grateful it wasn't serious! Skin cancer, just on the nose. I think it's just the words. No one prepares you for those words.

It truly felt like my whole world was falling apart we had just found out that my dads heart wasn't getting any better and the words heart failure where put on paper and it scared me and my mum. It felt as though anything I tried to hold onto crumbled, sleep, food, my health, driving, work, money, family. It felt like everything I attempted to hold onto broke or was taken away. There's this joke that I'm an independent black woman, and even though I have always struggled with various things and lent on my friends it's because I knew I could, it felt like a choice. Now I had too. I didn't have a choice, and if I'm honest I couldn't handle it. I didn't want to be the patient, I had to eat a whole load of humble pie. Passing out in social situations filled me with terror and shame. Not being able to drive frustrated me and made me feel incompetent. Not being able to sleep, well it drove me crazy. The one thing I did to make the whole thing worse was try and 'control' my eating. I thought I was in control, my best friend he knew I wasn't, he knows I'm not. But he still looks me in the eyes after I've said I need a wee after a meal and I can see it. I can see the frustration, the hurt and the love.
When people ask me why I did it, I say I'm not sure, I think it was a mixture of things that lead me to fight for my life in intensive care. Yes that is true, I felt like I was going through hell. But if I had to really think about it, it was because I knew my friends were getting wise to my habits and it hurt them. I didn't want to lie to them, ever. For me honesty is the most valuable trait, yet I was a living lie. Hypocrite. I also couldn't bare my friends watch me deteriorate. I honestly believed that it would be better for everybody if I was dead.
So I sat in my room and I popped all the pills. I wanted to die, I was tired and fed up and I felt like I had been engulfed by a black cloud that wasn't going away. Two of my bested friends came to my house and saved my life. They knew immediately that something was wrong. My best friend drove me to hospital like a mad man and if I'm honest I don't remember the 24 hours that followed. I remember bits and bobs, I remember opening my eyes at different times and seeing my closest friends with their head in their hands. My parents heart broken. My best friend was sat with his arms on the side of my bed his head down his hands in front of him and I've never seen him so, so, hurt. My life long best friend sitting opposite him showing her strength keeping it together, I remember freaking out as she stood above me and shouting that she wasn't her. She had to leave. My other friend putting on a brave face but I knew just by looking at her that she wasn't sleeping and was worried sick, they all were. I woke up in intensive care attached to ever machine going oxygen tubes up my nose, drips, heart monitors, catheter. I felt like I was in a an episode of greys anatomy. I remember thinking, how, why am I alive. Why are my friends here, I don't deserve them, they don't deserve this. I was in the ICU for three days. And so were my best friends, they didn't really leave the hospital for the three days. During the visiting hours I was never alone and I between them, they were either in the waiting room or bobbing out for food.
On my second day a nurse said to me that I was very lucky, she said I see a lot of people come through the ICU but I don't often see someone with as many visitors like you, you are clearly very loved. You would think this is where I say that my life was changed, that my eyes were opened, However that first night where I could think again I lay there in agony, it hurt so much it hurt to move, to breath. I was sat there crying, sobbing wishing I had died. I didn't want to live, so why on earth was I still alive. I remember thinking about my friends and having to grab one of those weird kidney bean shaped sick bowls as I was convinced I was going to throw up. The nurse cam and Injected me with anti sickness, but I knew there was nothing that could take this feeling away. I couldn't sleep and for the whole three days and I ate nothing other than two cubes of Galaxy.
I can say now a month later that my eyes have been opened, my friends love me and life will get better. It's not easy and there are still days that I wish I had died, but I'm hoping over time and with the right support that thought will diminish. Suicide is not the answer. I thought I was doing my friends a favour but as they have told me, if I had died it wouldn't have helped any of them, it would have broke them. Each of them in their own way has given me an I love you and I'm so glad you are alive speech. I tell them I love them everyday, and I always ask what did I do to deserve them. Their answer is always the same, just by being you.
It hasn't been all hunky dory, I have lost people, people that I never wanted to lose. My family, well we will never be the same. It's messy and it's hard. So to those of you that love someone with a mental illness, don't give up. We need you. We need you to be honest with us, even when it's hard, and it will be. We need your love, encouragement, reminders and most of all your patience. It is not easy loving us but I believe it is one of the most honourable things you can do. To love someone who doesn't love themselves is heart breaking. But it can also be incredibly rewarding. Just make sure to look after yourself. you can't pour from an empty cup.
A note to my friends,
The four of you show me everyday that you love me. I hate what I put you through and I struggle everyday to live with what I did. Thank you for being patient with me, thank you for reminding me the smallest of things, and most of all thank you for not giving up on me. I ow you my life. You know I would do anything for each of you, and you have shown just how much you are Willing to do for me. I am truly truly blessed. I hope to do you proud. I love you.

"You have been my friend ...That in itself is a tremendous thing." - E.B. White

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