It has taken me a while to decide what to write as my first proper post in a year. A lot happens in a year so I have decided to share my 2016 with you in the form of a life update.
Each year I sit there in New Year’s Eve reflecting over the year gone by and think to myself that I am going to take the new year by the balls and make it the best year yet. There I was, New Year’s Eve 2015 still on a high from spending Christmas with both Mum and Dad, and my Nan and grandad, thinking 2016 would be the year I finish my apprenticeship, have a holiday with my best friend and many other adventures.
However not too far into January 2016, my Grandad was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer. He wasn’t going to give up without a fight and we all knew it. He started treatment and was reacting well to it to start with. I kept my brave face on, as I think we all were, but with my depression slowly dragging me lower and lower, my mind kept making me want to die so I didn’t have to live in a world without one of my most favourite, and treasured people in. I finally spoke out to my mum about these feelings in march, who marched me down to my doctor, resulting in my anti-depressants getting doubled. I was also signed off of work for two weeks whilst my body adjusted to the new dosage. It was also in this time that my career/apprenticeship in the office came to an end – disagreements and friction between management (and an array of other things) – overall it was better for my mental health to be out of there too. I do miss a lot of my old colleagues and speaking to certain clients though, which is a shame as our parting of ways was so abrupt. (If any of you are reading this too, I really miss our laughs about the strange goings on in that place and I hope you are all well!)
Once my new medication dose had kicked in, I was in training for my new job as a domaciliary care assistant at the same company as my mum. I was soon going out and meeting my service users, helping them stay independent in their own homes and hearing so many different life stories. I loved it!
My love for the job did dull down dramatically however when we were given the news that Grandads chemotherapy had stopped being effective and the cancer cells were growing again, they stopped chemotherapy after this and it was a case of making him comfortable. After hearing this new, the suicidal thoughts started niggling their way back but I didn’t dare act on them because I was trying to be strong for everybody and I didn’t want to upset Grandad as he had enough to deal with. In his last two weeks, I became snappy at everybody. Grandad had been in hospital for a week on oxygen and was told he had short months left as the cancer was rather aggressive. We pampered him with as many McDonald’s hot apple pies as he wanted as he had developed quite a taste for them. So much so he nearly threw a half eaten one at me whilst telling me that “this hot apple pie is fucking exquisite!” with a huge grin on his face. I dread to think how much money we spent on those pies in the end. Grandad was home for a week when he passed away in his sleep. I was so happy that he was no longer suffering and in any pain but then it hit me – how do I live the rest of my life without him? Being a carer during all of this was a godsend in ways and an absolute curse in others. A godsend because I could immerse myself in looking after others and their stories would take my mind off of everything for a short moment. Then a curse because I knew exactly what the palliative nurse, Andy, was talking about and why certain things were done. Whilst Grandad was in hospital, he kept telling everybody that both his daughter and his granddaughter were carers – which makes me think he was proud of that career choice.
After the passing of Grandad, as expected, my depression had me lower than ever. I had amazing support from my family, friends – including those who I had only ever spoken to online – colleagues and, as strange as it sounds, our pets. The dogs could definitely tell and kept sitting on me for cuddles. My anti-depressants were changed completely and the dosage upped too.
We had a beautiful send off for Grandad and the day after, I was tattooed by Rob Theo at Low Tide Tattoos in Southend with the most stunning pirate ship. The pirate ship was because Grandad used to always tell me that I was the crew of his ship and that we were the most feared pirates in the river roach. But we were actually just fishing, not making people walk the plank.
The rest of 2016 passed in a slightly hazy blur after all of that. I can pin-point events and things happening, but nowhere near as clearly as I can recall those first seven months.
My friend Megan win tickets to see The Fallen State at The O2 Islington, and I plucked up the courage to drive us to it. We made it in one piece, had a great time at the gig, met the band who were such a lovely bunch, and made it home way before we would’ve had we gotten a train.
We gained a pet pig in 2016 too. He is a handsome little miniature pot belly named Rodney Trotter. The dogs absolutely adore him and I’m sure he thinks he is a Labrador.
I decided I wanted to get over a mild ‘fear’ of mine too. I’m not sure it can be described properly as a fear, because I wasn’t scared, it was just something I was slightly apprehensive of – snakes! I had been watching SuperMaryFaces snakeventure trip on YouTube which led me to Brian Barcyzk’s vlogs and regular show SnakeBytes. After spending hours immersed in these videos, I thought snakes were amazing little creatures. I went and met our family friends snakes (boas, Brazilian rainbow boas and Burmese pythons) and could have cried because I was so happy. After this I just wouldn’t shut up about how much I loved snakes.
It wasn’t too long after tha I was bringing home my very own Marron Dutch Pastel Boa Constrictors – a future breeding pair too! Of course with my love of the world of Harry Potter, they ended up with the names Remus and Nymphadora. A month after they came home, I then gave an adorable Spinnerblast Royal Python her forever home and the name of a River Song. Having looked after fluffy critters and the dogs in the past, becoming a snake mumma was a huge thing – especially as I have to feed them cute fluffy little critters. Plus it isn’t a case of feed them, water them, they’ll be happy. There’s temperatures, humidity, etc. Something good to keep my brain active that isn’t work. All three of the snabies have their own little personalities and are all absolutely fantastic when I’m having a bad day with my anxiety. Giving any of them a cuddle when my anxiety is playing up, calms me down in an instant. Emotional support animals all the way!
Christmas 2016 was difficult as it was our first without Grandad. We had Nan over, ate plenty and even played Cards Against Humanity.
Like I mentioned at the start of this post, about sitting and thinking about the year to come, I decided that 2017 I’m going to do things that will make my Grandad proud.
So far this year I have halved my antidepressant dosage, started drinking much more water, signed up to donate blood (first donation is coming up soon!), decided that I’m going to Hamm near the end of the year, started collecting Doctor Who figurines and have started taking less crap from people.
I want to continue blogging, as it does help me to write everything down, even if it’s only silly things like an update of how I’m doing, etc.
Thank you to everybody who has stuck through my break and has made it to the end of this rather long post.
Stay safe x