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A life on hold

January 2021

Just over a month ago I had a phone call from my Dad, "Your Mother tried to top herself".

Translation: my Mum tried to end her life.

It's wasn't the kind of crippling news I was anticipating would come next from home; my Dad is severely disabled due to disease so I had come accustomed to hearing horrific news about him. To hear it about your other parent leads to a mentality that they are no longer there to support you, but that you are now to support them. I guess each person experiences this in their life, but to get to that point at 28 when my life is still figuring itself out is a weight I was not expecting. A weight which is incredibly heavy, but is one which simply will make you stronger because, well, what choice do you have? Life must continue.

The way the cards have been dealt has been interesting; the trauma I had with work and the direction of my life and career has caused me to emotionally develop quite drastically. Going from emotionally stunted, incapable of recognising my own emotions and being vulnerable, to depressed with server anxiety and learning about myself through therapy. I understand so much more about mental health and emotional maturity than I ever could have done without experiencing it. Not a lesson I wish on people; but perhaps a recommendation that everyone has therapy to learn about their conditioning. All this to say that without the experience I would not have been able to guide and advise my parents in the world of mental health.

Had my Mother's suicide attempt been before my depression, I suspect my help would have been less useful, the wrong direction, and damaging. I certainly did not understand people with depression before I'd experienced it for myself and at that point I considered myself an empathetic person!

After the news, I was a mess all day. My Mum was alive and in hospital, but I was the other side of the world in San Francisco. Dad told me four days after it had happened, he didn't want me to make any hasty decisions so waited until a Friday to tell me. I told work, took that week to organise my mind and my things and I made the decision to come back to the UK for a number of months. We were also due to go to Palm Springs the following weekend for my boyfriend's birthday, while it didn't feel appropriate for me to have a holiday with this horrendous trauma going on at home it was the last opportunity to spend quality time with my boyfriend before we were apart for n months. It turned out to be a great help, I could escape my normal environment and stresses to focus on home.

The next few weeks were hard, extremely hard. My Mum tried to ignore what happened, my Dad pushing for me to help while not understanding mental health or that he is part of the issue, the lockdown restrictions coming into force in the UK effecting my own ability to focus on my own wellbeing (because let's face it, if I don't look after myself what use will I be to the people who really need my help?). I had made it very clear to my Dad that the reason I'm home to help, I am here specifically to help Mum's mental health and improving their situation, my life is on hold to help them. I have learned more about my parents than a child should really learn about them; their relationship history, the low points, the really low points, the fact that it wasn't the sunshine and roses that they lead you to believe.

I think one of the hardest things to come to terms with is the conditioning which they live by themselves, you're finally able to see the weaknesses in your parents which cause them to be as they are. Many things, naturally, which I have also been struggling with what with being their offspring; I never learned how to grow up and look after myself. Something which both of my parents have very much displayed through multiple actions over the past month. My Mum even said "I don't feel like I ever grew up." - I really resonate with that, I rely so much on other people to tell me what to do and how to do it that I appear to be incapable of looking after myself, something which is evident in the inability to question authority and point out when I'm being mistreated.

I came across this post two years later, this was a time in my life which was devastating and sharing the trauma and management of such a sad time might shed light on how to navigate it.

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