I lost my mum to breast cancer when I was 18 but probably only really understood how much I’d lost once I became a mum myself. How she ever had the strength to remain positive and upbeat while knowing that she wasn’t going to get better in the end is something I will always be in awe of. She never showed us fear and only gave us strength and positivity to go forward without her. I so wish I could have known her as an adult (and introduced her to my daughter who will always only ever know her as a photograph and from the stories I tell her....omitting the negative ones obviously). The good die young and they also leave us as saints!!
When I was 30, just 4 months before our wedding, my fiance was killed in an accident. I kissed him goodbye, laughing and joking and left for work totally innocent of the days ahead. His accident left him in an induced coma for 10 days. I spent every day with him at the hospital with his mum and sister, but he never regained consciousness. In some ways, we were lucky that he wasn’t taken from us straight away. Those 10 days gave us hope that he would recover and time to hold his hand and talk to him, and eventually kiss him goodbye and tell him we loved him. Losing my mum was hard, but losing David seemed unbearable. I was broken, sad and lost. And angry that I didn’t have my mum there to hold me and tell me everything would be ok. Sometimes I thought that the pain would kill me and even now I can sometimes touch it, especially when I hear about others going through similar. It takes my breath away.
Having suffered from PCOS since my teens, I always knew I would struggle to have a child. Eventually I did get married and we started on the agonising road of IVF. It was brutal, lonely, desperate and full of sadness, madness and depression along the way. During that time I became angry and bitter. I could detect a pregnant woman a mile off and held no guilt in being rude or distant to friends who had the fortune to get pregnant while I miserably failed over and over again. But I was lucky in the end and after six attempts and two miscarriages I finally got pregnant. Our daughter truly is my little miracle (although as she heads towards her teens, it can sometimes feel like a nightmare too!!).
Sadly, my marriage broke down and I faced several years as a single mum. Having to ‘share’ my daughter with my ex husband and his new family was harder than I could ever have imagined. I missed my daughter and didn’t want her being “brought up” by someone else, even if that was only every other weekend. And I didn’t know how to fill the gaps. Friends had their own families and to be honest, I didn’t want to be with them while my daughter was with her dad and someone else. I could leave work on a Friday and not speak to another person until Monday. Loneliness was just as painfuland just as difficult as bereavement. It was actually worse in some ways.
Through all of the above I’ve had obvious reasons for being sad. My journey has been unfortunate but by no means desperate. However, I still understand how debilitating and frightening “not being ok” can be. For whatever reasons, however we get there, too many of us “aren’t ok” and need all the support, understanding and love to find a way to be happy. Waking up in the morning, looking forward to the day ahead and not frightened of what is to come.
I’ve been incredibly lucky because I’ve had friends and family behind me. I’ve had two fantastic GP’s who’ve recommended medication (and sometimes insisted!), arranged counselling and generally supported me along the way. I’ve also been told how powerful exercise can be. Clear the mind and get those endorphins flowing. Anyone who knows me well will agree that talking and medication was always the preferred option for me! And that is why I am here now.
I’m happily married now and am lucky enough to have a gorgeous husband and now a step daughter to complete my family. He knows all of the above and also accepts that because of, or maybe regardless of, I do have ‘wobbles’ which manifest themselves in different ways. And he’s still here and willing to support me every day (well sometimes he tells me to wind my neck in, but generally he’s a star!). That doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten the black holes of desperation and sadness I’ve sometimes been in.
I’m going to be 50 in March. I want a challenge (I only got my place confirmed in mid Jan so a challenge this is!!) and at the same time to raise awareness for anybody and everybody that is affected by mental health and needs to be heard. And also for those people around them that want so desperately to help but don’t know how. And to prove to myself that I can do it and hopefully give myself another tool to battle those demons when they decide to give me another knock!
I will complete this marathon (slowly undoubtedly, but I will be crossing that finish line I promise) so please please support me.
This is for my mum and for David (who will probably laugh themselves off their cloud on the 28th April...but hopefully be proud of me all these years on). And of course, for Isabella.