Life. It’s a pretty weird thing, right? I’m 30 now and can no longer pretend that I am not an adult.
In some ways I feel like I’m in a better place now than I have been for a long time. Firstly, I continue to be married to someone who loves me and accepts me as I am. Secondly, we are sharing our lives with two amazing cats (even if they do like to throw up overnight so that we can step on it blurry eyed in the morning). Thirdly – my job is amazing. As well as having an excellent and supportive boss, I have some truly lovely colleagues and I manage three amazing people who are a joy to work with. Fundamentally, the core of my job is to be nice to people. I mean, student support is so much more than that, but it is a privilege to be able to support people who are struggling and be a part of their road to success.
On top of this I’ve been lucky to do so many amazing things this year. I’ve celebrated my 30th birthday and my dad’s 70th. I’ve seen half a dozen musicals including Book of Mormon, Come From Away, Waitress, and Hamilton. I’ve seen Seals in Cornwall and off the coast of breathtaking Barra. I’ve been to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park and eaten so much amazing food at some of my favourite restaurant’s across the country. I’ve performed comedy in Manchester, walked through the Peaks with University friends, made new friends, and we’re barely half way through the year.
And then – I have a sense of purpose in my life right now. Firstly, I ran a marathon. Me! And then next year I’ll be cycling coast to coast across America. As I step up my cycle training I’m getting more and more excited about this. I began this challenge as a response to a depressive episode in 2017 as a way to try and reconnect with the person I knew I was, and it feels great to be doing something that is hopefully going to make the world a slightly better place.
Looking at all of this it’s easy to see why I feel blessed with friendship and happiness. And I am happy! I have lots of joy in my life.
But there is also pain. Pain so daunting that it scares me.
I’m not in a place where I can talk about everything that is going on – it simply isn’t my story to tell. But safe to say there is a special type of pain watching someone you love struggle knowing that you can’t reach out and take all of their pain away. If you’re reading this you probably already know that my Mum has MS. You probably know that MS is a progressive condition that gets worse a little bit at a time. You probably know that this knowledge does not bring any solace. I’m not ashamed to say that I’m struggling – that the effort it takes to put on a brave mask and be the rock that I need to be sometimes leaves me utterly exhausted when I take it off.
Perhaps one day I’ll be in a place to write more eloquently about what is happening, and what impact this has had on me. I find sharing my story a useful way of understanding my feelings – but I also know that life is complicated and my musings have helped others know that they aren’t alone.
But for now let me end in an apology – a foolish one perhaps, but one I feel I should make. I learnt back in 2017 that if I keep steaming ahead when I’m struggling I keep going until I am completely out of steam, ending up in a place where I am no good to anybody, even myself. So I know that when I’m struggling I have to take it easy – I have to prioritise. I’ve already cut back on some of my activities that I fondly miss – running a weekly improv class, for example. But it also means that I’m not always replying to messages or emails as quickly as I’d like. It means that I’ve not booked my flights for America yet, and that I’ve not organised any additional fundraising, and that I’ve not done as much logistics planning as I’d like. It means I haven’t done any school talks yet. It means that I’ve not finished weeding the garden from last year. It means I’ve not got the time I’d like to share with and support friends. It means sometimes I become a broken record talking about America, because it weighs heavily on my mind. It means I’m human, I guess. So, please bear with me – I’d say that normal service will be resumed soon, but things are going to get harder before they get easier. I guess that this is what being an adult means – just because you’re happy doesn’t mean that you aren’t hurting.
Take care all.