A reminder that life goes on around me

When you live with mental illness, your world is small. If something doesn’t affect you directly, the chances are that you won’t care about it, or even let it register. You spend each day battling intense mood swings, chronic lack of motivation, and bone numbing fatigue. You wish people would care more for you, or at least acknowledge the pain you are in. I know that I have frequently wished a serious physical ailment on myself, just so I can point and say, ”look, this is where it hurts.”

When I think back to this time last year, my mind is almost a blank. I was spiralling into a deep depression, which resulted in a hospital stay. I see news items now, anniversaries of events from a year ago, and I wonder why I have no memory of them. But time stood still back then. I was wrapped up in my own little world, protecting myself from any more bad news.

This evening my father phoned with the latest update of his cancer battle. What was scheduled to be key hole surgery to remove his kidney has altered following an appointment with his surgeon today. The cancer appears to have spread to his lymph nodes, which will mean a bigger operation, and in the longer term, a much lower survival rate. Dad was his usual self. Not making a big deal of it. His wife was more upset and would have told me more if he hadn’t been whispering to her in the background to not worry me. So the next few months will be filled with hospital visits and cancer jargon, whilst I firmly place my normal mask on my face.

And therein lies the problem. I resent having to act normal. I want to fall apart. I don’t want to be the strong one. Hello! Excuse me! Mentally ill person here! Never mind the man with cancer. Of course I care about him deep down. I was briefly in tears after I hung up the phone. But I can’t lie about this. My primary concern is for myself and how this will affect me and that’s a personality trait I can’t stand about myself.

But life doesn’t stand still just because I have chosen to. Dad has been wonderful in the past year, whilst I’ve bemoaned my life and spent time in hospital. I didn’t really stop to think how distressing it must have been for him to visit me there, especially as I’d told the staff not to tell him why I’d been admitted (overdose). He was, and still is, bewildered by his youngest child’s emotional state, and yet he calmly offers himself as a shoulder to cry on any time I need it. Will I be able to do the same? I’ll certainly do my best but I know it will cost me one way or another. I feel held to ransom by his cancer. The option of ending my life, should I want to, has gone, for I could never add that stress to Dads’ life. My coping strategies will need to be secretive again. Rather than put the world on hold, I now need to put my mental illness on hold, at least until Dad is well again. It’s going to be a difficult few months for us both.

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4 Responses to “A reminder that life goes on around me”

  1. Alison Says:

    I can relate to how you are feeling having been my mum’s carer and soul mate since my teens, there have been so many times that I have tried to hard not to physical breakdown and I plod along with the happy mask – that has become particularly hard over the past couple over the past few years. You feel like you have to keep going for the sake of the people you love the most but at the same time you just want to wrap yourself up in your own little bubble and be left well alone…

    I am sorry to read your dad’s operation is going to be bigger than was expected and my thoughts are with you and your family. Take care… Alison x

  2. Lola Snow Says:

    Remember that you are allowed to feel hurt, angry, upset and overwhelmed, that’s a perfectly normal reaction to a terrible situation. Sounds as if you are feeling guilty as hell. sure, it’s great to have a new perspective on your impact on other peoples lives, but just as your Dad’s world doesn’t stop because you are depressed, no one will expect you to stop being depressed because he is ill.

    I know when I am low, i constantly feel guilty about my actions, often quite disproportionate considering the circumstances. Do you think that your depression might be making you beat yourself up a little bit more than you should? Your Dad will certainly need you to be strong for him, and the other people in your life, but Dad’s like to feel needed too, i’m sure he would want you to be honest and lean on him if you need to, seeing as you are more than prepared to do the same for him. I think you are too hard on yourself honey, and that you have far more kindness in you than you think
    Lola x

  3. confessionsxofxaxteenagexrockxchick Says:

    I can identify with this post, not completely obviously because no situation is exactly the same (I do feel like an idiot when I comment people so please forgive me if I’m babbling lol)

    I really hope your Dad gets better real quick…sometimes when there’s greater risk of not pulling through, in all situations, people pull through, and sometimes when there’s only a small chance that someone may not pull through they don’t. (Sorry if I am talking complete nonsence).

    Find someone you can totally fall apart to…you feel like you must put on a brave face for your Dad (my Dad has really bad athritis and depression so I’m used to doing the same thing so as not to upset him) but find someone you can be completely honest with…it’ll make you feel better 🙂

    Stay strong, and the best of luck xxxx

  4. bippidee Says:

    thank you all for your very kind responses. I’m spending the day with Dad and have made use of my mental health support line over night to unwind a bit. Looking forward to being fed some proper home cooking too lol. xx

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