Day 1
Posted by
15th Dec 2014

It's almost Christmas, and I have my usual mix of childlike excitement and adult dread. Each year, like millions of people, I fall for the myth of togetherness, the perfect day, family reunited etc etc.
And each year I fight off the feelings of dread, disappointment, loss. I ought to know better. I'm 57, and I'm not going to regrow the family I have lost to death, estrangement, bad choices. I am financially and emotionally more secure than I have ever been, so why am I unable to kick off this feeling?

2014 could be different. Now I'm focussing on my son. This is Day 1 of being open and honest to my husband, of saying out loud how frightened I am that Robert won't make too many more Christmasses.
I'm terrified that if I lose focus on helping him, he will slip below the surface of this huge, messy smelly sticky swamp and he will decide one day that he'll kill himself. I know that feeling so well, but I have not yet gone beneath for the last time. I've managed to drag myself up time and time again, and God knows I am so exhausted but I have to drag myself up just one more time so I can hold him out of the water.

Lose focus? I sometimes think I skitter along the surface of things, and I disgust myself, I'm so facile. It's always easier to help someone else, to fritter away time instead of getting to grips with the big things.
My husband doesn't really understand why I seem to have so little energy these days. It's a joke. I have nothing much to do, but that's OK because I can't do much at all. I spend every day pushing bad stuff back into the cupboard, and every night it tumbles out again. I feel guilty because I don't have any REAL problems. I'm more or less healthy, I don't have parents with Alzheimers, I don't have debts, and I don't really have anything to worry about .... until I think about my son, and he isn't a problem, is he? I've spent so long turning my back on his mental illness, on pretending that he is just 'eccentric', a 'loner', 'going through a bad time'. Just like I ignored his depression when he was at Primary school. Just like I ignored his rash - which turned out to be disfiguring, debilitating, disabling psoriasis. Just like I focussed on work instead of on him. With his alcoholic father, depressed mother, and dysfunctional grandparents. What chance does he have?

So I indulge in a bout of guilt, start self-loathing, and eventually start self-harming again. Another thing my husband can't understand.

Day 1. Today, Matthew (which show was that from? another blind alley, another diversion). Today I will try to get some help for me because if I don't get help, I can't help my son.

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