I feel as if the ‘about me’ page is supposed to be shorter and sweeter. The last six months have been quite significant so I feel that that’s the next logical place to start.
I’m currently studying at university – naturally a stressful time when deadlines roll around. My first deadline arrived in December. I’d been to my doctor previously and, having had multiple conversations, we spoke about medication to cope with the anxiety, low moods, aggression and irrational thoughts and behaviour I experienced routinely through these times. I didn’t take it – I’d never been enthused about the idea of medication and at that time I definitely hadn’t admitted to myself the extent of what I was feeling.
Deadlines resumed and I found myself working constantly. I kept tabs on what I was feeling, seeing it as a challenge to get through it in one piece. Then, three days before my deadline, Mum stepped in.
My Mum’s had what I describe as a drinking problem since I can remember. Perhaps it was just because I was young but it never used to affect me. Her smoking did, but somehow she managed to quit that. I used to throw her cigarettes away and take the lit one out of her hand and stub it out. Yet again, perhaps just a child’s memory but getting her to quit that was never so hard. The drinking’s been something I’ve never been able to budge though.
When she drank she’d look like a shell of herself, like the skin was hanging off a frame. The sparkle in her eyes I love and recognise as the light of my mother dulls. It fades to nothing and no matter what I do to coax her back, no matter how kind, caring or loving a comment can be, she sees it as criticism and she resents me. Unfortunately over time that resentment has got too close and rooted itself in me and is reciprocated. I don’t resent her always, only when she drinks and the light goes. But now I hold her at arms length. Too many fights and emotions and stumblings to bed. Too many times lying in bed and hearing her coming up the stairs, relying heavily on the shaky banister, waiting to hear the splinter and crack of wood and her tumble. So many nights of worrying. I’d go to bed early to escape it, having no energy for another failed attempt at changing things and I’d not sleep a wink. I wouldn’t hear her come to bed after the rest of the house was hushed. Hoping I’d been wrong, I’d come downstairs to check, and there she’d be, sprawled on the sofa, on the living room floor, sometimes sitting at the kitchen table using her book as a pillow and the wine glass still slightly full. It was then my job to wake her and get her to bed where I know she could be safe. I don’t even think she remembers any of those times. Perhaps that’s why she’s not embarrassed.
Having left home, these episodes translated into texts and phone calls, her maliciously and angrily saying she was a terrible mother and she’d be better off dead. Sometimes I got my Dad on the phone and Mum would walk into the backgound and I’d overhear their conversations, some so brutal I don’t know what happened on the end of the phone before I hung up.
One of these particularly nasty phone calls happened three days before my deadline. Through some miracle I managed to get my work in, yet it was my head that truly suffered over the next months. Heart palpitations were through the roof, anxiety threatened to overwhelm me on a newfound constant basis and I gave in.
The medication worked initially. I was only supposed to take it when I felt particularly anxious yet I found I was taking it every day. Christmas was a whirlwind of brainmush. I pressured myself to get better, feeling every day that I did not that I was not good enough. I. Was. Not. Good. Enough. My boyfriend and I weren’t together for a mere few days and I saw my problems with my attitude towards relationships show their true colours.
I was disgusting. I was no one to be with and I was nothing. He’d find someone better because what was I at the end of the day? I wasn’t even a good enough daughter to be enough for my mum to stop drinking. My heartache and disappointment with myself for giving in to the side of me that I hated and knew would reappear overwhelmed me until I was so consumed by it that I didn’t know how to get out.
The end of December was my first particularly low point in just under a year. I’d met my current boyfriend in that space of time and he’s honestly the best thing that has ever happened to me, but I think we both thought he’d made me better. It was then that I realised it was bigger than that. This extended far further and I needed to truly get to the bottom of it so that I wouldn’t screw up the thing that I wanted most.