Getting back up after You fall?

17 Apr

Is it really that easy? To get back up after you have been at your very lowest?

This time last year, I know exactly where I was… I was in My university Town; My wrist bands had fallen off and I was changing medication because the Fluoxetine was making my life hell. I was hoping for things to get better, but not expecting them to.

Depression hit me like a ton of bricks.

It completely blindsided me and I spent a year trying to medicate it away; then a few weeks stopping and starting my medication because I listened to some harsh words; and then a further few months reeling after stopping it cold turkey. All that time and energy, to get to a point where depression isn’t my main thought. It’s not gone, but I don’t fixate on it quite as much anymore.

I realise that any of the passers by on this page will probably be seeking something akin to support; seeking answers or just solidarity in how they feeling. Because it’s terrifying. And just like you my imaginary friends, I scoured the internet for hours and hours looking to find people who could understand; people I could identify with. Because the truth of the matter was that I felt so alone, and so scared and so frustrated by everything that was happening that I didn’t know where to turn.

But I was fortunate.

Sitting here now I can see how lucky I was in the support I had. The university and the health centre saw to it that I was helped in every way they could. I didn’t have to wait to see a councillor; I was granted leniencies and extensions and exceptions that I never expected. Because I didn’t think anyone would believe me. Because I didn’t expect anyone to.

And that was an appalling oversight on my part.

I know I’ve talked a little about the stigma of mental health and depression in earlier posts, and I firmly believe it is real because I’ve seen it; but what I didn’t realise at the time is you are just as judgemental and just as cruel to yourself as any of those closed minded bigots.

In some ways you are worse, not many granted, but as the sufferer you are there for every stumble of thought; you see every time you cant get up; you know every time you realise you are lacking. And that’s not easy. Because essentially, depression lies to you.

About everything.

I went from trusting my on thoughts and being so completely self assured and confident in my believes and convictions, to nothingness. No sadness. No happiness. No anything. I went to blank. Empty. I was a clean slate and not only could not I remember how to function anymore, but I just didn’t see the point.

And it has taken me a very long time to realize how this nothingness, and the following barrage of negativity, affects you afterwards. It’s taken me longer still to accept this. Because you basically having to accept that those weeks, those months, where you thought the world was out to get you and where you were your own worse critic, may not have been an accurate representation of reality. And that’s a difficult pill to swallow. Because It’s bloody hard not to trust your thoughts. Its bloody hard to be forced to question what is true and what isn’t at every stage of recovery, but it’s what you need to do. Surely that’s how you get up back up? By questioning everything until you can say, with as much conviction as before, that this is real.

Happy?

1 Feb

If I’m honest its creeping more and more into my mind as of late – the issue of happiness.
Its something I have spent a disproportionate amount of time considering really.

Well its either that or questioning my sanity… Or lack there of I suppose; which although fun, really has been mulled over far too much this past year.

In the past I’ve wondered briefly about the point at which the obsession with our own mental health become unhealthy. About whether some of it is a self fulfilling prophecy. Because you concentrate to the point of self centred fixation on what the depression is taking away from you without much regard for anything else; without much regard for yourself sometimes; and especially without regard for others.
I can’t really say how right or wrong this is. It’s just what happens. It happened to me, and I see it happening to others around me every single day if I look closely enough.

But that was the other side of where I am now. That was when I was wondering whether the depression was consuming too much of my thought processes. The situation I am in now, however, is just as strange because the reverse is almost true… Now my mind is becoming consumed with the process of recovering myself; the process of considering what I have learned; The question of if I am better of now or if I’m at a loss; The continuing question of how to fix all of these flaws.

However, It is the question of happiness, or at least contentment, which I have found filling most of my thoughts.
Because that’s what people always say, what they always ask.
Those who knew, ask how I’m doing; Ask if I’m happier now; say I seem well; that I seem better.
And mostly I am. I’m off the medication. I have a job I enjoy. I’m busy. I have friends; friends that challenge me and make me laugh almost every day.

Yes, I have all the markers of recovery.
But still feel only mostly better.

Because I’ve come to the conclusion, rather sadly I think, that maybe happiness is not what I am after.
What I am after is actually much simpler than that and much more consuming.
I want me.
Or at least who I thought I was before all of this kicked off.
I’m after how my thoughts used to run; how I could feel ideas forming in my brain and follow them to their end. I’m after how I used to be untouchable, how I never had any doubts in my own abilities and was so certain of what I could do that I never really faced challenges that were beyond me.
But now, everything a challenge. Yes getting up is easier, and all of the things I found difficult a year ago are fading into the background.
But I still find myself lacking.
I can’t deal with emotions still. In fact sometimes its like I don’t understand them, or just can’t comprehend. Anger baffles me, it seems exhausting. But by the same token so does joy; excitement; happiness, they all seem exhausting. And I’m hoping beyond all else that I will get a grip on them eventually because I feel I am missing out; and feel that while I laugh more and seem more alive, I’m still not fully in control. Maybe I’m just trying to run before I can walk, because in terms of my recovery I’m still on shaky legs.

I guess what I’m wondering is that, after being here blogging about every thought I’ve had or every challenge I’ve faced for the past year, not only how much things have changed but also what is to come.
Because after how hectic and hellish the last year has been, I guess I just want to know how much of myself I have lost for good, and how long it is going to take me to recover the pieces of what’s left.

I still believe most of us are good…

21 Jan

I’m trying my hardest to be a good person; I really am.
But I am constantly worried that I am simultaneously trying too hard; and not trying hard enough…
What I mean is that when I do something beyond what it necessary – trying to be nice, or helpful – my motives are questioned. Or maybe it just surprises people, because I have become quite reserved it seems, and don’t often step out of my shell…
Or make a conscious effort to befriend people…

Actually, I don’t make a secret of the fact that I dislike people. Because most of the time I really, really do.
But is it contradictory to say that I still believe most of us are good and are worth making the effort for regardless…?
I dislike you, but you’re trying?
Doesn’t quite sound right does it.

No, it actually sounds a little bit mental… almost patronising in fact. Like it’s not worth the effort and I shouldn’t be allowed around other people.

Indeeed, one of the things I think I am enjoying most at the moment is the fact that I work alone quite a bit. Well not necessarily alone; but I have my own trench to work in, without anyone else around for great swaiths of time.
It gives me time to ponder all sorts of mundane ideas and thoughts; lets me reflect on an innumerate and almost probably infinate array of scenarios. From the absurd to the common place.
And most importantly, without fear of frequent interruption.
It’s both a blessing and a curse, however, and sometimes I welcome the distraction of people, even if only for a few minutes… other times I wish they would all fuck off for a bit longer.

Hence the trying to be a better person constantly…
Because theses people have become my friends; friends I actually enjoy being around and socialising with… and it may have taken me a long time to regard them as such, but I do.

So why the intolerance?

Why the need for little mind games to try to make them back off?
Because thats what I have been doing it seems; picking the weirdest conversational topics I can think of and running with them. To scare them off? Or make them back away maybe.
I dont know.
What I do know however is that it hasnt worked- it has largely been embraced and forms the back bone of running jokes.

And you know what, I’m glad.
I’m glad it hasn’t worked because life is so much more now. I may not be myself completly or be quite recovered yet, but maybe I never be, and these new people have no idea about that. They have no idea what I’m lacking – that this shy, quiet, nervouse wreck of a person is but a shade of their former self – they just seem to accept what I am, who I am now. And I just didn’t expect this.
I didn’t expect new people to accept me as easily as they have; and I certainly didn’t expect to make friends.

So I guess what I am wondering is why I feel the need to state that I still believe that most people are good; yet question my own attempts, and failures to be a better person…

Because I think this misanthropy has become such an ingrained part of my personality that I forget that sometimes people will surprise you…
Yes I will always be a little misanthropic, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t allow myself the capacity to be surprised that’s some people do have truly good hearts…

Laughing to myself

20 Jan

One of the things I find myself doing more and more frequently is laughing.

Which in itself is a good thing, no?
There are countless studies and articles about the effects, and ultimately the benefits of laughter on depression. It releases endorphins and helps you relax; it reduces depression; tension; anxiety and it can help with memory and sleep; plus a whole host of other cheerful little benefits.

So surely laughing more is a good thing…
Especially when you’ve spent a long time feeling as though there is not much to laugh about; it becomes something you miss, you’re sense of humour.
And it’s not like you can write someone a prescription for happiness, like you can for antidepressants; it’s something that is either there; or isn’t.
But what I am finding is that it is not always a good sort of laughter; its
sometimes manic, verging on the hysterical; its sometimes nervous and a result of a lack of anything else to do. Mostly however, I think it is a result of me not knowing what to say, or doubting my own ability to provide a useful comment or conversational addition. It’s sometimes a response to the absurd or filthy humour that seems to float around work; sometimes in an appropriate measure, sometimes in a disgustingly overdramatic – ridiculously over the top. My face goes gradually more red and I giggle myself into breathlessness, or until my sides actually hurt and I can’t breath.
Like an giggly adolescent girl half in love…
It’s sickening really.

And it cannot even count as an attempt to wield a sense of humour in the face of mental illness… because it’s not really humour I’m responding to… it’s as though I have forgotten how to act around people, and my brain has almost half remembered that laughter in a social situation is a good thing…
But laughter and bumbling along makes you look special… and that’s sort of what I’ve go going on at the moment.
Extreme social awkwardness.

And there is really not much I can do to stop the manic, hysterical laughter apart from ride it out and hope to hell that I don’t look like as much of a fool as I feel.

But of course I look like a twat… I always do.

The great Farce that is Graduation.

18 Jan

Yesterday, I finally graduated.
No that’s not true; yesterday I finally went to congregation – the graduation ceremony; I actually graduated 6 months ago when I finished my degree.
The certificate came in the post.

The actually ceremony was pointless; Nothing really to celebrate in my opinion. Lots of pomp and grandeur… And tradition; it was done as it always had been apparently; with all the tipping of mortar boards and robes which could make even the most magnificently plumed of birds feel bland in comparison.
But it wasn’t anything special; or at least I didn’t think it was.

But still, that’s not really the point.
Why I really went to graduation was for other people. My mother and brother came, and my uncle. I basically went so my mum could have pictures of me in a gown; and so the rest of my extended family could put the picture up on the wall and be proud as punch that I had got my degree. More than that though, I went so I could ask my uncle to come with m.e; because it seemed appropriate, and because there was no one I really wanted to be there more than him…
It was really that simple.
Because in the, end I wasn’t really that proud of my achievements; or proud of the fact that I had come out of it all with a good degree from a good university; or even proud of the fact that I was able to parade around in robes that looked like I had a skinned polar bear strapped to my back…
No. What I felt yesterday was largely shock;
Indeed, what I felt yesterday was relief; and boredom.
Because I wasn’t graduating with my friends; or really with people that I had ever had occasion to talk to. And if I’m honest I’m not sure it would have made that much difference.

Maybe I’m just cynical.

But sitting in the cathedral; looking up at the vaulted ceilings; the intricately carved columns, and the stained glass windows – I couldn’t help but reflect on how far I personally had come.

This time last year, I didn’t think I would be there. I really thought I would not be able to graduate. Hell, I didn’t have any perspective past the end of the day at best.
But more than that, this time 3 and a bit years ago I had matriculated in that very cathedral. And I was completely oblivious to what the future held for me.
I had gone to university to read a subject that I found interesting; not one that I thought I would ever have a career in.
I was in pursuit of happiness.

But sitting there; I came to the conclusion that I think I am happy; or the happiest I have been in a very long time… It may seem like hollow victory admittedly, but I’ll take it. Indeed, I may have started this venture completely unsure of where I would end up; and at times if I would end up anywhere vaguely productive.
But I’ve come out of the other side, and that in itself is something to celebrate.

The scarring effect of depression?

15 Jan

What I want to know is can you ever be yourself again?

That’s what we are all searching for is it not; our old selves? That mental image we have of how we were before we lost sense of self.
Before the demons took over.
That is the definition of recovery in this sense is it not – returning to a place where you knew you were sane; where you knew you were well and where, I suppose, where you were yourself…
But is it possible? To return.

Theoretically if depression was a physical ailment, then it would leave some sort of reminder of what it had put you through.
Some scar or blemish perhaps.
But in the case of mental health what scars are we left with to mark our experiences…
Is it in the over cautious manner you analyse every dip in mood?
The paranoia; the Stigma that people still associate with you; the loss of focus and memory; the constant fear that it will reappear.
And many others in between.
Because I am aware that mental health is never very far from my own thoughts… I over analyse my laughs to see if they are sincere or verging on manic; I question whether I look happy on the outside and how that relates to how I’m feeling; I wonder each evening if I will be able to get up and go to work – if I will be able to function like a proper human being. Always a little afraid that it won’t be ok… and that I shouldn’t have been lazy and stopped the medication.

So does depression have long term effects? Even after its diminution…
I honestly have no idea, and quite frankly I am dreading finding out.
One of my friends is studying to be a psychologist, and mentioned that in the past few years the question of depression and cognitive function seems to have been more and more questioned. Indeed, it is perhaps one of the main reasons relapses into depression are so frequent, if the inability to function does not fully return.

I suppose some people do better at recovering themselves than others, the can bounce back with a tenacity that you look at with envy. They’re resilient, and recover from even the darkest of days with relative success.
They seem to be lucky in that, or as lucky as you can be, as while it may never completely go away, they can at least enjoy periods of clarity, in which they know they are themselves; in which they know they are well.
Others aren’t this lucky however, and there are residual remains that cling to you with an admirable persistence…

And unfortunately I seem to be in this category.
Plagued by this notion of scaring.

I constantly feel as though I have dropped several IQ points.
Almost as though the functioning part of my brain has yet to wake up; not exactly a zombie but most defiantly not a human and, most importantly, not myself.
I can’t think straight and holding onto thoughts, memories and even actions seem difficult… especially as my brain was once organised in a linear and logical manner.

But none of that seems possible anymore.

My brain is just lazy; or maybe it is just refusing to work with me. I forget so easily, and blunder around to the extent that I seriously doubt my usefulness at work – indeed I am beginning to think that I am a liability more than an asset.
But I suppose this is to be expected; Memory and cognitive function are intrinsically linked to brain biology, and whatever changes depression causes will undoubtedly affect it I suppose. Indeed, one of the major signs of depression is impaired cognitive ability; that illusive and all enveloping fog that comes and goes… that I thought I had seen the last of. But I thought that would disappear completely after I stopped the crazy pills; that I would regain some semblance of clear though like I had when I was on them… I suppose what I didn’t consider was, after fucking around for so long, the effects it all could bring in terms of significant psychological changes; to the extent that some researchers have suggested that depression can cause long-term changes in memory…
And that I would have to deal with that…

Shit.

I suppose what I am getting at is do you think depression changes who you are as a person?
Or more to the point, does it make you question who you were?
Because I’m not sure much of who I used to be remains anymore…
Through bouts of numbness and the general all pervasive feelings of being lost do you not wonder of its possible to forget who we once were in the face of depression? And to emerge from the other side – if that is at all possible- like monochrome butterflies. Newly formed; different to our previous incarnations, yet constantly in fear of a relapse and loosing what semblances of personhood we have created in this new life.

Watching it all unfold.

12 Jan

Somewhere along the line I forgot the torture that it is to watch someone you love struggle with their demons. The hell that you face when you know exactly what is going through their mind, but are completely powerless to help them… hence I think why I have retreated back to this hidden world.

The long and short of it is that my mother is having a hideous time; she forgot to repeat her prescription and has for some unknown reason put herself through withdrawal in the last week, partly I suspect because she hasn’t been able to go to the doctors to remedy this and won’t let anyone help her. So, I must say that it was a shock to my system to walk in Friday night, after a week working away, to find her in as bad a state as she has ever been.
She’s come of her Citalopram a few times in the past. Cold turkey; and very ill advised – when her demons convinced her she didn’t need the pills to make life better.
She cried at the drop of the hat.
But you forget the worst of it I think; you forget the irrationality of it all. You forget the irritability; the general shitty mood that surrounds her; the paranoia and illogical, seemingly random trains of thought. You forget how quickly moods swing; the occasional bursts of mania and anger and frustration one minute, only to be swiftly followed by bouts of mind numbing forgetfulness the next – almost as though her thoughts have frozen.
You forget just how much grief you can give those around you.

And all I can think as I watch this unfold is, rather selfishly,
“Was I that bad”?

Because it is almost unbearable for people to be around.
And there is almost nothing that can be done to help… We all know that don’t we, my silent listener; we’ve been there. Hell, I’ve complained multiple times through these pages about the intolerance people show; but really what else is there in the end?
The knee jerk reaction seems to fight back; to try and understand the paranoia and, when all else fails, to try to reason with the sheer mental coming from their mouths and minds; because patience doesn’t last forever, and it becomes wearisome pretending that it does.
And that’s not right…

But it does bring up the question – is depression a result of nature or nurture?

It is one of the oldest issues in psychology this debate, this nature or nurture hypothesis, and it will long be hashed out in the realms of academia in attempts to understand human behaviour; but still it is a very prosaic way of trying to understand the causes and the triggers of depression… if indeed there are any.

Indeed, do I (or did I?) suffer from depression because I have watched people around me suffer with it, because I am still watching my mother suffer with it; or is it predetermined? Is it one of those things that would have happened anyway… regardless of upbringing and environment. Is it a genetic defect passed down from generation to generation like an ticking time bomb that cannot be escaped?

Google seems to tell anyone who cares to search for this question that it is a bit of both.
And that prospect is almost utterly soul crushingly difficult for me to comprehend…
Because if it is a little of both then there is no logical way to tackle it.
Because while it can be theorised that there are many risk factors for depression; such as stress, genetics, environment, hormone fluctuations or chemical imbalance or whatever; there is no way to tell how people will respond to these factors.
Because it means at some point depression will affect you; at some point the genetic predisposition you have will break, and the floodgates will open letting all manner of demons in; and all you have to combat this is what you’ve seen and learned along the way.

And that bullshit.

A semblance of life, Post antidepressants.

11 Jan

I forgot about this place.

Somehow in the process of finishing university; moving home; getting a job; and fucking about with doctors and medication in the past 4 months or so I haven’t had the time to put my thoughts down. And I really should have; I seem to have forgotten that I started writing on here as a way to escape my own head, and take into stock how much progress, or lack of, that I was making.

Indeed, in August I wrote about going cold turkey and the hell that I put myself through in regards to that, but since then I have been intermittently on an off the Mirtazapine and Sertraline before weaning myself of them about a month ago. The 12th December specifically. The decision to come of the pills, especially the Mirtazapine, was partly due to the fact that I was unsure if they were helping me, but mostly because I was running out of tablets again and the Doctors I changed to required me to go for a psychological evaluation before they would prescribe me anything more.

The short of it is however, that I am officially no longer on crazy pills yet have spent the past however long debating whether or not I made the right decision. Indeed, I have been debating this to the point where I can’t figure out if I am going through a prolonged withdrawal, or if it is the old darkness creeping back.

In hindsight, the Mirtazapine and Sertraline cocktail was a wonder when I began it because, despite the weight gain and occasional fogginess that accompanied the drugs, they did the job for me, I don’t deny it what so ever; especially after the hell the Fluoxetine put me through. It brought me out from the darkest recesses of my mind, from a place that seemed utterly hopeless and completely empty to the point of numbness and gave me something to cling onto. It helped me sleep and clear my head and it made me feel stable to the point where I had almost reconciled myself to the fact that I would stay on it, or something similar, my whole life.

I felt human; I was happier; I laughed and genuinely felt joy in life.

So somewhere along the line, I thought that I would be ok to stop the medication because I couldn’t believe that the content I was feeling from life was a result of that; that it was genuine. That it was because I was in much better place. I have somehow managed to fall into a job that is perfect; nice people, who are now good friends, and a job that isn’t mind numbingly boring. By rights I should be perfectly happy.

So I stopped.

I went through withdrawal; the flu; the nightmares; the nausea; the dizziness; the insomnia; the restlessness; the headaches; and most worryingly, the mania.

And that was ok; sort of. But, I think one of the main problems was that I was no longer seeing the same doctor I had made this journey with, the one who had helped me mark my progress and come alive; but more than that I was in a different part of the country where the healthcare procedures are so vastly different that they almost made me feel as though I had been palmed of on the medication to avoid any hassle it may cause seeking other alternatives. Well that and the fact that I didn’t disclose any of this to my colleagues; so they probably think I’m bloody mental but that can’t be helped, they’re bloody mental too.

So I suppose what I am trying to say is that life’s a bloody mess; it’s confusing and full of foreign emotions and social interactions that I have purposely been ignoring for far too long.
A large proportion of my waking moments may be taken up with wondering if I made the right decision in stopping the crazy pills without consulting my GP; and with the constant paranoia that the all-enveloping numbness that plagued me before will creep back in unnoticed.
But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it…

All relationships end; but it doent mean it hurts any less when it does

27 Aug

I have loved and I have been loved. I have had my heart broken and I am sure I have broken other. Indeed, it is part of life and everyone will experience this at some point.

But right now, sitting here, I cannot help but wonder about the nature of love; and the notion of romantic love. Because the relationship that I have relied on for the last 4 years has finished; and not on my terms. And I am at a loss because I did not see it coming at all; and I’m not sure he did either to be fair. Apparently he doesn’t feel the same anymore; because he apparently didn’t know it until he was on his way over and hadn’t decided until he knocked on my door.

A logical mind would perhaps agree that love is insanity; and romantic love as a fallacy. Relationships don’t always work out the way they do in the movies: there is not always a happy ending in which everything works out ok. Sometimes you are left with that heartbreaking feeling that leaves your chest feeling like it is going to collapse and you can’t breathe. More than that though; I am no stranger to that empty; soul crushing loneliness which comes with the realisation that you no longer love someone; that you no longer feel the same. It is almost like you miss them in your very soul; deep in your chest cavity and it is a slow, creeping feeling almost that curls itself around every thought you have about the other person. It infests every thought, and the moment you realise it hits you like a sledge hammer between the ribs.
And it hurts. It really really does; because you are morning for something inconceivably lost

But how do you fight back against the statement that they just don’t love you anymore. What does that even mean?
How do you talk about love when everyone’s ideas of it are inherently different?
What is it to be in love?
True love. The deep attachment and comfortable companionship that characterises this, is not in my opinion a romantic feeling; it may have romantic undertones in the beginning, but in the end romance is not the be all and end all. The spark that ignites a relationship ALWAYS dies at some point, and I don’t think that any relationship is immune to this. Some choose to end their relationships and find the spark elsewhere….and then after a period of time, that spark will also die.
It is an endless cycle.
And probably a result of our growing up in cultures so obsessed with the idea of a fairy tale love; one that convinces us that the adolescent obsession that romantic love is a natural and all-encompassing part of life; that it is part of our very being and expectations of the world around us. From a young age you dream of falling in love; you conjure grand notions of being whisked off your feet by that one person who will right every wrong in your life. And you will live happily ever after.
Relationships aren’t easy. We all have moments where we lose faith. Where things seem a little more difficult and hopeless. They are in their very nature difficult and take commitment and work. This concept of romantic love being so important in our lives is not present universally; indeed we are in the minority in believing in it so strongly.

I suppose, at its very core if a relationship is going to work; indeed, if a couples is truly right for each other they wade through the same shit as everybody else, and the same shit as every failed relationship. But what makes the ones that work different. That one little thing that means a r relationship will survive all the uncertainty and loss of faith and worries that you do not feel the same any longer, is that they don’t let it destroy them. One of them will fight for that relationship every time a problem arises; one of them will say something and one of them will fight for what they have. And if you are not willing to fight for it or at least talk about the problems that you are having, then you probably don’t deserve to be in that relationship.

The Core Components in our life.

18 Aug

The other day I was told something quite profound which made me consider my place in the world.
I have been fortunate enough to grow up in a family which is quite unique.
Abundantly so in fact.
Indeed I have been told many times by my mum and her siblings that they grew up knowing that despite everything else in the world, they had five other people they could rely on; five other people that they could trust implicitly to be completely honest with them and to support them no matter what. That they knew come what may; despite the arguments and fallings out that would inevitably come, and have come, as part of this mode of growing up; that nothing would change that bond between them.
And largely this is true.
Just like I have grown up knowing that there were 8 people in the world who would do this for me. My mother, my uncles and aunts and to a lesser degree, my grandparents. I could, and can, always rely on their love; trust and support: and above all else their complete honesty with me.
And that’s my family.
So when, the other night my mother told me over a bottle of wine that the reason she has never just regarded me as hers, but as the families is because I brought them back together stunned me to my very core.
I had always assumed that this sentiment had always referred to the fact that, as my father was not around, my mums close family had always had a heavy hand in raising me. That’s not to say my mother was laps; not at all, she raised me very firmly and very well being a single parent with all that entails; what I mean is that a large part of what has made me what I am now is a result of their influence; my sense of humour and my morals and my opinions and motivations and a million other things that I cannot list here are a result of them.
But to find that that was not what she meant made me re-think an awful lot.
When my mum had moved back home from London to have me my family was dispersed; minefield of knots and tangles and complexities that the mind boggles to think of.
My grandma suffered extensively with depression; the kind that rendered her catatonic to the level where she could not function, let alone look after her family and especially not her youngest son, who was 6 years old. Indeed, that care of my youngest uncle had fallen to my uncle and two aunts who were older than him to the tune of 19, 17 and 15; not children exactly, but too young to be tasked with the chore of bringing up another. And my Grandad had no idea how to deal with this predicament, so submerged himself into working all the hours god sent to look after his family.
So when mum moved back at 21, pregnant with me, it had the effect of drawing the family back together in a manner that I don’t really understand.
And after I was born it seemed to give everyone something to put their lives in perspective.
We are all tangles; knots of emotions and motives and actions that all come together to make a person. No matter how frayed and damaged these knots are that is still the universal truth of it; that people are intensely complex and difficult to understand.
So when my mum tells me that just by existing I changed all these people that I hold so very close to my heart, and that I somehow managed to soften my uncle and my aunt, who were both rather hardnosed and stubborn people, it is difficult to imagine. Even more so the fact that my uncle, who is only 6 years older than me, went from being wild and virtually on the brink of being taken into care, to being adamant that he wasn’t going to be my uncle, but my big brother; and he has been.
It is difficult to imagine these people as anything other than the close knit and intrinsically allied group that they have been all my life. Sure they argue to varying degrees of seriousness and fury; but they are always there.
They are constant.
These core components in our life seem to be rock solid; to be unshakable in their foundation so that they feel as though they had been that way forever. But they haven’t, and it is senseless to presume them so.
For someone who claims history as her first love and relishes in the discovery of artefact biographies, I am indeed ignorant of my family history and the biographies of the people closest to me