I have just visited my grandma
We watched a film that she’s seen before but she told me she’d never heard of it
She tried to make me tea and forgot which mug she’d used
When I left, I hugged her and she told me I was lovely and she kissed me and she cried
She’s never kissed me and I’ve never seen her cry
I’m watching all the hundreds of little deaths every day and it’s not fair that this is just the most deceiving kind of atrophy, that the first time she’s kissed me and cried is a symptom of decay
Now I’m walking the mile back to an empty house and I don’t much want to be on my own but none of my friends are answering their phones so I have picked fourteen dandelion clocks from the side of the road and blown them all out at once and thrown them away in a heap and now I don’t know where they are
And all I can think is that she’s still lonelier, that it must be so lonely when you don’t even have yourself for company, not really, and I don’t want to be alone when tomorrow she might have forgotten that I was there today
My grandma has been losing her memory for some time now, and my mum and I went to her house earlier to remind her to take her pills. She lives with my uncle, but he’s in Germany at the moment, doing whatever it is that full-time carers do when they suddenly find themselves carefree for a week, so she’s been by herself for a few days. She’s been having meals at our house as she can’t cook any more - you can’t trust someone with no memory to boil so much as a potato, really - but my mum and I both work so we haven’t been able to have her full time.
Anyway, we went to her house this morning, and we noticed that there were lots of bits of paper everywhere, all to remind her of the things that she’d forget otherwise. Some were written by my uncle before he left: milk by the door; check burglar alarm before bed; meat in the fridge. Others, she’d written herself as aide-mémoires: ask Helen about lunch on Sunday (we’d confirmed it with her four times already); check diary (she checked it five times in one hour last night); take pills. A dozen things she’d forgotten already, and would forget as soon as she read them for the third time.
She keeps a calendar, too. She writes things to remember on that. Sometimes, it’s normal things, the things that everyone writes on their calendar. Betty’s birthday - 6th June. Christopher away - 18th September to 22nd September. And then, on today’s date, I saw that she’d written ‘ask Anwen if she’ll bring her supper with her and stay the evening’.
And I didn’t know how I felt about that. I knew that I was sad that she felt so lonely with my uncle away, that perhaps my mum and I had failed her somehow by not being able to be with her all the time in his absence, that maybe being on your own is ten times worse when you aren’t sure that you know your own mind any more. I knew that I felt guilty that I hadn’t spent many evenings with her lately, having become almost desensitised to the tragedy of her memory loss and entirely less desensitised to the irritations that it causes - sorry, what did you say? Are we going out tomorrow? Where do you live now? Do you work? - and I knew that I felt - completely unfairly - resentment towards my uncle for leaving us for 4 days, for putting all the weight onto our shoulders for 96 hours.
But there was something else, too; a lingering thought that she had to write it down. She wanted you to stay with her, but she knew she’d forget to ask you not to leave. She had to write it down. She knows she’s lonely, but she can’t always remember how not to be. And whose fault is that, really? Is it the undiagnosed atrophy in her subconscious, or is the fault entirely my own; if I’d been less distant, if I’d phoned more, if I’d walked home from work past her house - would she have remembered to ask me to stay without writing it down?
She didn’t remember in the end. Even with it written down in big black letters, in the unwavering hand of someone who has to focus all their concentration on the sentence they’re writing lest they should fail to write it correctly, she forgot to ask me to stay.
This time, I offered.
Tomorrow I start work on the feature film and I have to go to a different office to usual and help I’m afraid
Also did you know that cities are like people; you can spend years learning them and thinking that you know all the little secrets they could possibly have, until you meet a stranger who knows them entirely differently to you, and somehow neither better nor worse.
I was going to be really interesting today and tell you all about the interview I did today for TV and the feminism debate I’m attending next week and how I redyed my hair yesterday but then I saw that these two photos were saved next to each other on my phone so I’m not going to do any of that and I’m just going to let the pictures speak for themselves
This is the difference between Instagram and Snapchat
Today my mother dragged me and my grandmother to a village near Newport because she wanted to see a tiny lighthouse and then our GPS stopped working and I had to map read and I am incredible so we got there and the lighthouse was indeed tiny and everything was cold and then we had a cup of tea and then we went home
I AM IN A TINY COUNTRY PUB AND THEY ARE PLAYING DRAKE I AM GOING TO DIE I LOVE WALES SO MUCH
To mark World Suicide Prevention Day, here are 6 things that you should know about suicide.
- It’s not always a cry for help. Even failed attempts – sometimes, that’s exactly what they are. Sometimes – blessedly – it doesn’t work. Just because someone is still here, it doesn’t mean that this is what they’ve always wanted. Invalidating someone’s past because of their present is an awful thing to do. Don’t ever tell someone that they didn’t feel as bad as they say they did just because they’re still here. If they made it through, whether it was against their will or not, then that is not something to ridicule or scoff at. You have no right to tell someone ‘well, you can’t have meant it if you didn’t succeed’. You have no ownership over their feelings or their illness. You are not entitled to this discussion.
- Sometimes it is a cry for help, and that doesn’t make it any less important. It’s not ‘attention seeking’ to say that you’ve had enough of doing it alone. It’s not pathetic or immature. The image of a suicide attempt as being the melodramatic efforts of a bored teenager who just wants attention – this needs to stop. Sometimes, attention is called for because it is needed.
Imagine you’ve broken your leg. You go to a doctor, who tells you it’s sprained and gives you painkillers that barely take the edge off. You get an appointment, which takes 3 weeks to happen, to go to another doctor. You tell them that you know your leg is broken, but the first doctor didn’t listen. They refer you to a leg specialist, because they’re not qualified to make the clinical decision. This referral takes 6 months. Your leg is getting worse. The leg specialist tells you that the pills the first doctor prescribed will work. You know that they won’t. The specialist refers you back to the first doctor to get a stronger prescription. This takes a month. By now, every step is agony. You know your leg is broken, and that the painkillers the doctor wants to prescribe you will not work, but they aren’t offering anything else. Your friends tell you to stop complaining; the doctor has prescribed you pills, so you’re just making a fuss over nothing. The doctor knows what he’s doing, they say. You go back to the first doctor. It’s been over 7 months since you broke your leg. You ask the doctor to refer you to hospital, where they can x-ray your leg and give you specialised painkillers. Your doctor tells you that it’s a sprain, and won’t refer you. He prescribes paracetamol. Your leg hurts so much that you can barely stand up and walk out of the appointment room. You know that the pills won’t work, but you’ve already exhausted all your options. You can’t go back to the second doctor, as they’ll just refer you to someone else. The specialist won’t see you again, and even if they will, it’ll take 6 months because the waiting list is so long. You think about 6 months of agony. You think about the agony not stopping. You think about the paracetamol, how it’s the only thing they’re going to give you, and how it won’t help.
What would you do? Would you take the paracetamol, or would you do anything in your power to make them take you seriously? What would you do to heal yourself?
- It’s not rare. In the UK alone, nearly 6,000 people ended their own lives in 2012. That statistic doesn’t take failed attempts into account. An estimated 1/10 people suffers from depression every year. 1/4 people will suffer from a mental illness in their lifetime. These are facts. Mental illness is not a small problem. It’s not something that people make up to get sympathy. It’s not something that happens to other people. It’s real, and it’s a big issue.
- We’re ignoring it. The stigma attached to mental illness is huge. For some reason, it’s still completely socially unacceptable to disclose a mental illness. People are worried to tell their employers about it in case they’re fired. I myself have been turned down from a job on the grounds of mental health – illegal under discrimination acts, but I was too ashamed to contest it. Society doesn’t want to know. Mental illness makes up 22.8% of the disease burden of the UK, yet receives only 11% of NHS funding. Less than a third of all people with mental health problems receive treatment for their illness. It’s hard to say which is the biggest factor in this disturbing statistic: is it the lack of funding to permit treatment, or is it the heavy social stigma that makes people reluctant to seek help?
- It’s not something to be ashamed of. Many people treat those who have attempted suicide or suffered from suicidal thoughts as though they’re lesser beings, somehow. Well, why are we? What is it about the illness I suffer that makes me any less worthy than the person sat next to me on the bus? I have a chemical imbalance in my brain. That brain of mine that lets me do so many things I love – well, sometimes it’s just a bit of a shit. Sometimes, it makes me stare at walls for hours on end and start crying in the street, and sometimes it makes me see faces where there are none. Most of the time I’m in control of it, but sometimes I’m not. I still hear people laughing at me when they’re talking on the phone, and I hear noises at night and it hurts to get out of bed and I’m afraid every time I feel sad – every single time – because what if this time is the time that being sad means something worse?
Living with a mental illness is absolutely exhausting. It can be a nightmare, and people don’t want to hear about it. People don’t want to hear about the 3 months I spent in a dull fog of emptiness, too devoid of emotion to even cry, unable to get out of bed except to use the toilet. People don’t want to know about the time I had a panic attack in a public toilet and made everyone think I must have eaten something really bad (and really, that’s one of my funnier tales of madness). People don’t want to hear about the time I couldn’t stop crying for 8 hours and I couldn’t see it ever ending and I missed the people I’d lost and I wondered if anything was infinite because this seemed like it might be and I thought that the one infinite thing I could cope with was an infinite end to these chemicals and the lies they were telling me that I believed and then I took my life in my hands and I made my heart stop and I woke up with my body in a hospital bed and my mind still whirring like it would never stop – people won’t let me talk about that. Sure, I can talk about how well I’m doing now, but if I try and frame it in the context of my illness? Well, I should just get over it, because clearly I’m coping. Even when I’m not coping, people assume that I am because I’m still here. People assume that I don’t need or want to talk. Well, sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t, but it would be nice to have the option.
People treat me like I’m alone in my experiences – and worse, like I deserve to be alone because of them. Well, I don’t, and I’m not. My feelings are valid – they were valid then, and they’re valid now. And if you’ve ever felt like I did then, then I want you to remember these five things. Your feelings are your own. Your feelings are valid. These feelings are rooted in an illness that won’t last forever. There is help out there, if you know where to look. You are not alone.
- You are not alone.
Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90
This. This is one of my favorite things
Thank you! I hope it helped at least someone :)
MY MEETING WENT SO WELL I AM SO BRAVE AND SO PROFESSIONALLY COMPETENT
This has been the best week ever and it’s all been because I got off my saggy little bottom and DID things
Being productive and proactive is exhausting but damn is it worth it
I have a terrifying meeting in half an hour so please wish me luck / pray to your deity of choice / sacrifice your firstborn on an altar of fine marble
Even if it goes horribly, I’m still v v proud of myself for organising it, so I am just going to be positive and maybe drink a gallon of tea later
Oh godddddddd the fear
I just went to the advance screening of the film Pride and oh my god you need to see that film
A film has never resonated with me like that before
Please, please, I implore you to watch it if you get a chance
I had my hair in a bunjolras all day and now it has gone full circle, quite literally. Oh dearie dear oh dear oh no
Tomorrow I am going to the BAFTA screening of Pride, that film about the LGBT society helping with the miners’ strike in Wales in the ’80s, and there is a Q&A with the writer afterwards!! I am so excite.
Also I have been srs considering moving out and going down the rental path, which is a path I had been hoping to avoid in lieu of the buying route, but I don’t see that happening for a good few years and I am 22 and I want to not live at home any more. If I lived frugally I could still save for a deposit / mortgage, I think. I did move out for uni, but I had a scholarship at the time, so I didn’t need to worry about earning my rent! I mean, financially speaking, it makes way more sense to keep living at home to save on costs, but emotionally speaking? I need to not feel like I’m regressing. My job is starting to actually happen, and I need the rest of my life to catch up!
I hate decisions a lot and so therefore I’m going to drink ginger tea and watch old episodes of Come Dine With Me on Youtube.
Have you moved out? Are you renting? Is it hideously expensive?!
I have a meeting on Thursday which has the chance to become something cool as balls
it’s a very small chance
like, smaller than an atom or the UK’s chance of ever winning Eurovision again or Justin Bieber’s personal stash of self-awareness
but it’s a chance and I am v v proud of myself for making the contact and arranging the meeting and psyching myself up to go and !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!