So today's post is a personal one, all about finding myself; finding happiness again and finding health again.
The truth is - although you may think you know someone because you follow them on social media... you really don't. Being a full time blogger, my job is about being brutally honest, in the hopes that some of you can understand, or maybe you're here because you can relate?
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This past year has been a particularly difficult one for me, but if you don't speak to me personally, you'd have no idea about this. It's hard for me to write this without starting to cry (sorry if it makes you cry, too); but not because I'm in a bad place now (because I'm not), but because it brings back memories that I'd rather push to the back of my mind.
Lets rewind to September last year - I'd just started my final year at uni, and my precious nan had just gone in to a care home 45 minutes from home, which I would drive every week to visit her. This was difficult for her to accept - she was an INCREDIBLY strong woman with all of her marbles, but body wise, she was a very weak and ill woman. Her husband died before I was born, so she'd been living on her own for 21 years, she had heart failure, water retention, and was loosing her mobility. My mum gave up her job to care for her just so she could stay where she lived and have her independence, but this was becoming difficult, and took an emotional toll on my mum. When is enough? My nan would get stuck on the toilet in the middle of the night and have to wait hours for help, and let me tell you, that still kills me now to think of her there so helpless. It got to the point where we could no longer give her the help she needed.
After she went into a care home, her health deteriorated rapidly. Within one month, she was completely disabled - she had to be hoisted if she wanted to move, which broke my heart as she was so fragile she'd cry in pain. She had told my mum she wanted to die, that she didn't want to live this way anymore. This now meant she also had to be fed too, so when mum and I would visit, we would feed her - although within a few months, she didn't want to eat. By January, she was completely bed ridden and could hardly move. For four months, I basically watched her dying in front of my eyes, which really affected me, I knew it was time for her to let go; but I also knew she so badly wanted to hold on until I graduated. The last month of her life, she was so weak that she could barely even speak, or was barely even awake.
The last time I saw her she was dying, but I was so blinded my emotion that I didn't even realise it until the morning after, when we got the call that my beloved nanny had passed. The last thing she ever told me was that she loved me, and I'll cherish that forever, I just will never accept the fact that I didn't realise at the time - I have so much regret over the things I never said. She died 10 days before my 21st birthday.
That same day I went to the press events I had planned just because I knew my nan would have been angry if I didn't; and pretended everything was fine. Looking back now I admire my strength to be able to do that, however I shouldn't have done it, and should have taken time for myself to grieve. I had booked months in advance to go to Disney Florida for my birthday and I still went. It was amazing and I lived in a bubble of happiness for 10 days, but when I got back, I feel like everything caught up with me and hit me like a tonne of bricks. I had to cope with my grief, cope with my mums grief, plan a funeral, blog full time, work part time, as well as finish my final uni work by the deadlines. I said to myself I wasn't going to apply for extenuating circumstances - but in the end I had to because I couldn't cope much more. I broke down with emotion constantly - I cried in the shower most of the time so my mum didn't see me cry, I wanted to be strong for her. It broke my heart that she'll never see things like my wedding day, my first child. She had been my bestest friend (apart from my mum) and was absolutely everything and more to me. I loved her so so much.
I hadn't had chance to grieve as the people around me at the time hadn't let me - no one (except my best friends) understood how I felt; everyone expected me to just get over it and move on (I even had that said to me.)
The fact that I didn't deal with my emotions and grief at the time really affected me - after I had finished uni, I didn't even want to get out of bed, let alone leave the house - everyone was asking friends where I was. The fact that she died for a long time impacted me more than if it had been a quick death, and I felt angry and disappointed because the people who I thought would be there for me, just weren't.
Shortly after this, my dad had a serious heart attack one week before my graduation. This put me back 2 steps, I had to then deal with how he felt and how that affected us as a family, and it also taught me life lessons. We weren't sure if he was going to be out of hospital by my graduation day, but I picked him up the day before. This was a particularly emotional day for me - I'd managed to overcome everything so far and graduate with a high 2:1, but everything that happened the past week was hanging over me.
NOW LET ME TELL YOU - do not EVER let ANYONE tell you that you're wrong to spend as much time as you need to grieving, and that you're "emotionally unstable" for crying it out. CRY IT ALL OUT GIRL because you need to deal with everything and process it your own way.
I really felt like I was drowning, I just felt so, so sad.
It took me until August/September to get to a place where I was finally starting to feel happy again. I started to live again; I left my part time job to become a full-time blogger, I sat whenever I needed to and took in how I was feeling, and I threw myself into what I enjoyed. I really think a big part of my healing has been by doing a job that I love and am passionate about - when you're that "in to" what you're doing for a career, it distracts you. I stopped saying "yes" to everyone else and started saying it to myself instead - it was time to put ME first, and that's all that matters. It takes a long time to get back to a good place, but the only way I was able to do this was by looking after number one - be selfish with your time! If you want to stay in and watch the Kardashians - do it! Masking your feelings doesn't make anything better and I learnt that the hard way. Having a dog was a massive part of feeling better, and this certainly helped my mum - it took her mind off of how she was feeling.
I took time to deal with my nan's death by sorting through every memory I had of her (I waited until I was ready to do this, though), and put it in a special drawer, so it sort of felt like closure. Strange things around the home happened in the week she passed (hairdryers turned on, etc) so I knew she was around, and speaking to her in my head made me feel better. I visited a psychic/medium who I felt really helped me (she knew things she couldn't have possibly known), so this helped my healing as I realised that those we love, never really leave.
It just feels like we haven't seen them in a long time.