It has been a little over six months since my little Ned died – 6 months, 14 days, 3 hours and 40 minutes to be exact. Yet it still feels like yesterday. Only everyone else has moved on, as life does, but I can’t. I don’t think I ever will.
My life is passing me by. I can’t remember where summer went. How can it be autumn with its fallen leaves, russets and misty mornings? Surely the pain becomes bearable over time, some say. Time heals. No. Time doesn’t heal because you can’t turn back time.
This week, I learnt the true meaning of the word ‘unbearable’. On Thursday, the pain of losing my little boy was so overwhelming that I collapsed outside the school and fell unconscious. An ambulance was called and I woke up in A&E. My body had been physically and emotionally unable to bear the pain of losing Ned. It is simply unbearable.
I have weekly bereavement counselling, weekly sessions with a mental health nurse who tells me her role is to keep me alive, regular appointments with a psychiatrist and my GP. I have been referred to the psychologist. My medication is continually increased so that I can function on a day-to-day basis. I carry many labels – depression, anxiety, delusional, post traumatic stress disorder and grief. They are the frighteningly real ingredients that make up me now.
You may have seen me smile the other day. You may even have heard me chuckle because I’m getting better at it. At functioning. Outwardly at least. Inside I’m screaming. I’m screaming so loudly yet it feels like I’m six-feet under because no one can hear me. If you can see the smile, why can’t you see the pain? If you can hear the chuckle, why can’t you hear the scream?
That’s the trouble with mental health. It’s hidden from sight. It’s a whispered secret. It’s a covered wound. But it’s real and it’s terrifying and it hurts. It’s a lurking darkness that smothers and suffocates. Some days it has complete control over me. I overdosed again three weeks ago, not an attempt to end my life, but to end the pain and darkness, just for a while; to stop the endless stream of questions that churn in my stomach and painfully pull at my heart – Why Ned? Why take a happy little boy with such love for life? My little boy. My little boy who wanted to learn to ride his bike with no stabilisers; my little boy who couldn’t wait to start his Stage 3 swimming lessons; my little boy who wanted ‘Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer’ sung to him every night; my little boy who would throw his arms around me and hold on so tightly I would have to prise his little hands off; my little boy who every night would say that he wanted to feel my kiss on his cheek all night till morning; my little boy who didn’t deserve to die.
And there are the images that haunt me when I’m cursed with being awake, yet too bone-tired to get out of bed. Two cars colliding, the noise of squealing tyres, metal crushing metal.
Then morning comes, another day. I get up exhausted and go through the motions. Today could be an ok day where I can share a coffee with a friend and smile. I might make it to evening without being floored by the pain. Then I sit at my son’s graveside and I cry silent tears. I drag myself back home and crawl into bed, relief flooding through me that I’ve lived another day. I’ve breathed through the darkness and made it to the other end. But then come the long night hours with their nightmares until dawn once again breaks on the horizon and a new battle begins.
This is life with grief and mental illness. It’s a life I grip onto with the very tips of my fingers as I dangle temptingly over the edge of the precipice. I am so fortunate to have a handful of people in my life who are my safety net. They have been there when I have let go in my search for release.
So here I am. Not a second of a day passes without I think of my little angel. Not a second of the day passes without I fight to stay alive. I fight because I want people to remember my special little boy – the little boy with the dimples and the sticky-up hair; the little boy who lit up a room instantly; the little boy who touched so many hearts in his short life. I must stay here to tell his story, to share his memory because I am so very proud to have been his Mam.
Grace-Ella: Spells for Beginners (dedicated to my little boy lost)
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