Around this time last year I heard these words spoken about my Dad, Paul, who had been diagnosed at the time as having dual depression & anxiety – “Oh so it’ll be Paul’s 70th next year?” The response I heard – “Yes, if he’s still here for it”
Those words completely shocked & crushed me, but I did not let them defeat me. Instead I made sure they fuelled me in helping Dad to get better and prove the naysayers wrong! The people who were meant to be some of his nearest & dearest.
Other words spoken about Dad deeply saddened, angered and frustrated both me & my Mum – “They don’t want to be around Paul anymore, he’s getting too much.”
The one good thing about dealing with mental illness & suicide prevention head on – you literally have no time or energy for staying mad at people or holding on to wasteful feelings that only make you feel worse. I think both Mum & I thought deep down, “Well it’s a good job you’re not the ones responsible for keeping him alive every day then! Thanks for the support, nice to know we can rely on you.”
But we honestly had no time to allow space for stuff like that – our focus was solely on a small but very important checklist of do our utmost to keep Dad alive, and look after ourselves & each other, so that we were able to fulfil the former. Everything else took a back seat or ceased to need doing anymore. In that sense, it’s actually truly liberating. It’s like the kind of freedom life & death situations offer you, but under these circumstances, it’s not a one-off, it’s constant, for months & months on end.
No matter how dire the situation, there is always someone to give thanks to or something small to show gratitude for.
(Read about some of my thank you’s here – A Thank You To My Tribe)
Despite the trauma of it all, it can actually be kind of freeing with regards to your day to day thoughts – you no longer have time for the trivial, for the office gossip, those ‘1st world problems’ we’re all guilty of relentlessly moaning over, time & time again, and you really genuinely stop caring what other people think of you – no longer desperately needing their approval or validation. You’ve only got time for gratitude that your loved one is still here with you, that you get to witness how wonderful, caring, selfless and loving so many people can truly be, and that there really are so many wonderful reasons to live for each & every day.
To all of the brave suffering with mental illnesses, and all of the wonderful carers out there, you’re truly doing an incredible job! And one which I’ve come to learn is one of the most important jobs in this world. So I ask you to please always remember this, and I send you all a heartfelt thank you that will never quite be big or special enough for the one that you deserve.
What moments of hope have you found during your toughest times? Remembering and sharing these moments helps to remind ourselves and others of the good in the world and the things to keep living for. And for the times when hope seems just out of reach, or a million miles away, there are people that can help:
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