Living with grief is hell. Absolute utter hell. It comes in waves; it hits you like a tidal wave when you least expect it. It doesn’t give a moment’s thought as to when it strikes. It doesn’t wait until I’m tucked up in bed, alone and hidden from view. The wave hits when I’m walking down the street, when I’m sitting in a cafe, when I’m playing with Tomi and Cai. And what I’ve learnt is that I can’t hide it. I am a mother who has lost a child. That is what it is. That is what it will always be.
I had clinical depression and anxiety before this tragic event in my life. I was slowly getting better. But the loss of my son has been so horrific that I will never now get better. It makes me bubble inside when people tell me, ‘Oh give it time, it’ll get easier, you’ll get better.’ No. No it won’t. Easier perhaps in that I learn to perfect my acting, but that’s about it.
As with my last blog post on my grief, I am writing this today as it has been a particularly tough week again. An assessment by my psychiatrist has given me a new label. My clinical depression has deteriorated and now includes elements of psychosis and delusional guilt; my anxiety has become severe. They are frightening labels to carry. But they are words, diagnoses. But they are diagnoses that people don’t understand; that people are scared of because they can’t see them. That’s the trouble with mental illness. That’s why I’m writing about it. It’s real and it’s terrifying.
The new diagnoses has meant my medication has been increased. Again, I know that people (even those close to me) worry that the medication is not allowing me to grieve fully. What I try to make them understand is that without the medication, I wouldn’t be here. But that’s too incomprehensible. Of course I’d be here. I have two sons who need me, a husband. I have my book to look forward to. I have a future. Believe me, I would not be here. I know it. 100%.
So that is why I take the medication, so that I can try to live. Because I have to. It’s either this, or taking the easy option; the option which haunts me, tempts me on a daily basis. But I am fighting it, day after day, night after night. I will not let the easy option win.
Next week, it will be 5 months since I lost my son. 5 months. How can that be possible because I’m still there, stuck on March the 25th, confused, hurting, lonely, trapped. And I now have a new weight to carry. Guilt. Guilt that is eating away at me. Why did I let my little boy go that day? Why did I not keep him safe? Why wasn’t I the one holding him when he was so badly hurt and needed his Mam?
These are the questions that feed on me, like vultures. They make me want to tear my hair out. They make my legs buckle. They make me physically sick. I let my boy down so badly and I will never forgive myself. People can shout at me that it wasn’t my fault and that I could never have known. It won’t make a difference. Nothing that anyone says will change it. It’s the guilt that I have to carry for the rest of my life. And it is so heavy that breathing for me has become a challenge. Getting out of bed in the morning is a challenge. Being is a challenge. Grief is a challenge.
I get angry. Why me? Why my little boy? What have I done that was so terrible that my little boy had to be taken from me? Why have I been robbed of the one thing that every mother does – to hold their child when they are hurt; to whisper soothing words to make the pain go away? I never got to do that. I never got to say, ‘Sh… Mam’s here, it’s ok,’ whilst I stroked his face. This tears me to pieces. It’s like someone ripping my heart out and jumping up and down on it.
This is my life. I’m being brutally honest because writing it as it is helps me a little. There is no softening it. It is how it is. It’s a vast ocean that I’ll swim in for the rest of my life. And this is why I grasp onto anything that will keep me afloat. My family. My close friends. My writing. Some days I’m drowning and am clinging onto these life rafts with the mere tips of my fingers. Some days I have a tight hold on them. Perhaps one day I’ll feel like I’m on a boat, safely sailing through my grief. Perhaps.
The next fortnight is going to be so incredibly difficult. We have the inquest to face – the cold, harsh, blunt reality of that fateful day. And so I must battle to cling on to my lifelines. That’s what I’m focusing on. That glimmer on the horizon. My debut book publishing. An achievement that I must try to be proud of. An achievement that my family is proud of. An achievement that Ned was proud of. And I owe that to my Ned. He wouldn’t want his Mam to give up. He’d say, ‘Come on Mam, write another one now.’
So I’m saying, ‘Ok, Ned. I will. I’ll do it for you.’