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When it seems like the end, I feel the arms of a stranger rescue me” – Sandi Patty – Unexpected Friends

Taken from our Friend’s blog, Av Verz.

The last week or so has been really difficult. My little lady has been very unwell, and in addition my Husband and I have had several meetings and discussions with various professionals involved in her care about her future. Thankfully she has rallied well and seems to have shifted this latest illness with her usual strength and determination, and the long sleepless nights are lessening slowly.

The meetings and telephone calls have been hard to deal with. Lack of sleep makes my depression really bad and I have really struggled at points to keep the smile fixed in place. Talking with the Hospice or the Hospital Consultant is upsetting and stressful, and when my demons are loud, it’s incredibly difficult to communicate in a sensible and calm way. Finding the words to discuss matters regarding end of life care for my precious girl (needed for the future, not immediately) is impossible at the best of times. This week trying not to let my anxiety or demons get in the way of making the best – and right – decisions for my daughter has been exhausting and I have been left feeling like I have nothing left to give. Fighting the demons in order to achieve what was necessary has meant they have fought back with more fury than if I just let them do their “thing”.

All of this has also coincided with receiving my first negative message regarding my blog, specifically my last post about Mother’s Day. I’ve not told anyone about this before now, I needed time to think before responding to it. My initial reaction was to stop the blog, shut the group down and run and hide back in my little cave with only my demons for company. After the initial hurt had worn off though, I realised that’s exactly what I was expected to do. To give in to the negativity from someone who told me to “stop moaning” and “realise how lucky I am”, would go against every reason I started this blog up in the first place. I really am unable to properly express quite how exposed and vulnerable I feel, emptying my head onto the laptop and then sharing it with both friends and strangers. I really do think that saying things out loud helps and I am hopeful that my writing reaches just one person who is feeling alone, and helps them realise that they’re not. The fear that comes with opening my head up though is immense. I know there will always be someone who has a different opinion, and I am interested to hear other’s thoughts on what I write – good or bad – but this wasn’t constructive criticism, it was full of stereotypical clichés such as “snapping out of it” and it both hurt and upset me, so it’s taken me a while to decide whether to continue this or not.

The challenges of trying to organise life for my little girl, and the first negative response from my blog put this last week in a tunnel of darkness, suffocating, scary and never ending. I am so lucky that a little bit of light came through every now and then to help me keep going, to give me a much needed boost when I was ready to give up. My close friends are never far away, and of course my family are always by my side, but this week it has been strangers who have shown me the way to keep moving forward. I want to share these people with you, I don’t think they realise how special they are.

Through my Husband spreading the word on Twitter, I came into contact with Shawn, who runs the website Having battled with his own mental health, Shawn is doing amazing things to raise awareness of mental health illness in his local area of Great Yarmouth. We’ve had a few brief chats, and he very kindly featured my fourth blog on his website. Reading through his story and seeing what he is trying to achieve – and is successfully doing so – I have found very inspiring. His decision to put one of my blogs on his site, and taking the time to talk to me was like someone opening the door to let a bit of fresh air in. It gave me the chance to take a breath and see that there are others who have struggled much more than I have, but have found a way to live their lives again.

I have also discovered a pretty awesome guy called John, who having suffered his fair share of mental health problems has also come out the other side. He is doing his best to fight the stigma attached to mental health illnesses by talking about his own experiences and suggesting to others positive and varied ways of finding their way through their own darkness. What I like about John is his ability to see that everyone and every experience is different, and what helps one person doesn’t necessarily work for someone else. It’s refreshing to find someone who will talk so openly, especially a man, and I have a great deal of respect for him. John has shared all my blogs to date on his website and I honestly cannot thank him enough for doing so. When I was contemplating giving this up, another of my blogs would appear on his site along with a supportive message from him on the Battle Of Mind Facebook page. Without even knowing it, he’s given me the confidence to keep writing and through Facebook shares and likes, I can see that others are reading and maybe getting something from it too.

I’ve realised this week that it really is the little things that can make a huge difference to someone’s day. The smallest of gestures can bring a tiny bit of light, a whisper of hope when the darkness seems all consuming. I am incredibly lucky to have my friends and of course my little family, but the actions of people I didn’t know two weeks ago has shown me that giving this up is not an option. I hope some day I could help make just one person feel the way that both Shawn and John have made me feel this last week, to be able to spread the tiny bit of light and hope a little further.

I’m sure I will receive more negative messages over time, but I am determined not to focus on those. It is the kindness of strangers that I will remember always.