When I was younger, my brothers and I had to care for and support our Mum during a period in her life when she really struggled with her mental health. Come to think of it, she was around the age I am now. There were days when she didn’t get out of bed. There were days when she was sad. There were days she was angry. But amongst all of that there were little pockets of heaven when she was ok, she was happy and she made life fun. I always feel I need to say this because of the stigma attached to mental health, but my mum is a wonderful human, and no matter what day she was having, I know she always loved us.
On the days my mum couldn’t get out of bed I used to feel so frustrated. I thought she was being lazy and wondered why the house was a mess and the dinner wasn’t cooked. To most people, (with Monday morning as the exception) getting out of bed is one of the easiest things in the world to do. But if you’re depressed, it feels like your body is pressed so heavily into the mattress by the weight of the duvet in addition to the heavy weight in your heart and chest and a tiredness that never improves with sleep. Impossible to move, safer to stay in bed.
On the days my mum was sad I wondered why we weren’t enough to make her happy. Fucking chemicals. Brain fog. Darkness. Nothings funny. Nothing feels good.
On the days when my mum was happy and energetic, I’d often feel overwhelmed with love, happiness and excitement. So pleased that she was feeling better. Although I didn’t fully understand what it meant to be depressed, I understood what it meant to feel happy at the sand of Margate beach between your toes and be able to laugh a laugh where you throw your head back and not care about the noise you’re making because something was just too funny to notice. Seeing someone happy after so long of seeing them sad is a wonderful feeling and it truly makes you appreciate the little things in life.
The reason I started thinking about this is because I was wondering what it might be like to live with me. Over the years I’ve lived with a few different people and each time I’ve come away from the experience having learnt a lot about myself.
I lived in a shared house with 5 other girls (it was one of the best times of my life). I healed a lot during that time and I laughed so much. It felt like there were 4 of us in that house who came together feeling somewhat broken and we all managed to find each other and support each other’s growth. We were such different people who appreciated each other’s quirks. I came out of my comfort zone and I learnt to have fun again. I explored and went on adventures. I also learnt that I can be very codependent and having a favourite person meant pushing them away when I felt like they were going to move on without me.
After that I lived with one of my uni friends for a while which I really enjoyed because she has a very calming presence. We could talk for hours about random stuff or just be together without having to talk at all. She understood what it meant to need space and rest after a long period of time spent with other people. I appreciated that she gave me that time and it made me understand the need for it and appreciate it too. She also taught me some things about being an adult. She often fixed things and was one of the most self sufficient people I’ve ever met. She also challenged some of my opinions (not in a bad way, just asking questions I hadn’t thought of) which actually helped me learn about my black and white thinking.
My housemate now has seen more sides to me than I thought possible to show anyone. She’s seen me in some absolute states. Hysterically crying. Tired even after sleeping for 12 hours. Grotty from not showering for 4/5 days. Angry and upset, saying things I shouldn’t say. Completely emotionless, numb even. Drunk and emotional. Hyperactively happy and annoying. Talking a million miles an hour about shit she doesn’t know or care about. She’s seen sides of me that most people haven’t or ever will. But I’m in a safe place with her.
Before we moved in together last year I sent her this text: ‘I have a pre warning to make but I hope you still want to live with me because you’ve experienced my moody cuntness before. Anyway, when I get depressed I do hide away and that might be for one night or it might be for a week. I had a bad head day today and I just came home and I’ve been in my bed since. So it would never be personal and I’ll let you know if I’m going into a phase‘. At that time I was starting to struggle a lot with my mental health and it got much worse after that and the mask I wear most days was slipping and the real me, the broken person I felt I was at that time had really come to show herself. But my housemate accepted me and living with her has been a wonderful new adventure.
We are such different people but we have a similar sense of humour, we love winding each other up, we sing and dance in the kitchen, we watch quiz shows and dating shows and we eat a lot. But most importantly, we are honest with each other and we support each other. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed with guilt about her having to see the sudden changes in my mood, hearing my crazy ramblings or having to tell a grown woman to eat and take her medication. I know my mum felt that guilt too. Having lived with my mum I know it can’t be easy to live with me, but I’ve been very fortunate and I feel very grateful for the people I have lived with and especially for the one I live with now. I genuinely don’t know if I’d have got through the last year without her. In the back of my head right now I’ve got that bitch of a voice saying I tricked them all into liking me and I didn’t deserve them but I’ll ignore her for now!
I wish for everyone to have a safe space, surrounded by love and kindness. If you don’t have that, I hope you find it and I’m always happy to help people when they’re struggling.
Look after your brain and please be kind to yourself. Bella xx
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