When Grief is all you know

My journey to Motherwell was one for self help after being diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety in 2017 and then PTSD IN 2018.I had experienced bereavement many times in my life, I had lost all my grandparents by the age 6. When I was 9 my brother died from Leukaemia aged 19, after an 18 month battle. This all seemed normal at the time, I remember people saying how young my brother was to die, but to me he was a grown up!This is where things changed, we no longer had family holidays as neither my dad or my other brother could face going back to our caravan where we’d had such great family times😢 I suppose this is when my brother began to use achohol as a crutch as he was only 15 months younger than his brother and they were inseparable. He and dad would not speak of him again for many many years. The adoption of my sister stopped so she remained ‘fostered’ in her forever family.💕We continued to lose family members, including an uncle, my mum made it her job to support my auntie, to raise awareness and funds for leukaemia research, Christie’s and Manchester Royal as well as working tirelessly for the Royal British Legion. She was an amazing women.My fiance and I were also trying for our second child which took 5 years, it was all I could think about every single day. Even though I told people I was happy with one healthy child! We decided to marry for my 30th birthday and lo and behold I fell pregnant three months later😁Little did I know, my mum battled Leukaemia herself for some 15+ years until it took her life 16years ago, I now realise that may well have been the start of my dark days, but life had to carry on I had my dad to look after.He was a different person after losing his wife of 50+years, he finally grieved for his son too. At this time he lived with me as he wouldn’t return to our childhood home without his wife. We managed to buy him a bungalow so that he could have independence again. Unfortunately my dad was very hard to care for being diagnosed with dementia and then bowel and colon cancer. We became nurses for a very proud man who had served in the army and we had never seen cry. He was like a terrified child unable to understand or accept his colostomy. He lost his battle some 13years ago. Unfortunately I felt relief from the situation.

Contact with my brother deteriorated as he used his inheritance to line the pockets of local bar managers! It was when his partner was taken into hospital with a brain tumour, which had previously been mistaken as alcoholism! Unfortunately she lost her fight within weeks aged early 50s. Contact was resumed to support my brother who now had six daughters to support and 6 grandchildren. He was broken, but he tried hard to do what was expected of him, this brought a different side to him out that I hadn’t seen much before. Unfortunately SS were involved as one of his daughters had had a child at 16 and then twins when she was 18.The negative relationship with the children’s father broke down and this culmunated in her children being removed from her care only 18 months after losing her mum!

My sister and I stepped in to retain the children within their family. At 49 my sister took on  a 4 year old as well as having a foster son with additional needs and her son & daughter. I was 44 and took on 3 year old twins boys, as well as having a 13 year and 22 year old sons living at home. To say it was difficult is an understatement, we needed to complete foster training whilst the boys were in situ. 3 months after placement SS came one day and wanted to remove the twins from our care. We were told we hadn’t been open and honest about our eldest son. A situation we had known nothing about until then, it was horrendous, I still can’t bring myself to discuss it.

As a consequence of this my son had to move out of his home or the boys were to be removed. After hiring a barrister we fought SS and beat them and the little boys were able to stay in our loving, stable, safe and secure family home💙❤️ SS would not allow us to foster the boys and therefore had to go to battle for Special Guardianship.

We All these battles had brought our family so close, we were there for each other, with my brother being the matriarch! Life was good he fell in touch with an old flame which turned out to be the making of his new life. They became engaged to be married, life was good they bought a camper van to travel the British isles in.This was his life, sorting the van for their travels. It was whilst he was doing this there was a horrendous accident in which he was crushed under his camper. He was airlifted to hospital and fought for 10 days but never regained consciousness. These were the worst 10 days of our lives being told one thing and the something totally different. There were false highs and plenty of deep lows. We stook together to stay strong to get each other through. There was now my sister and me and 6 daughters not knowing how to cope from one day to the next.

I held all my hope in the inquiry sorting everything and giving me closure, that didn’t happen and that’s when my struggles really began, I was signed off work a couple of weeks later. I thought I could manage everything myself, I didn’t think I needed medication or counselling and I continued to resist the help offered. The following month my nephew was set alight by boys from college who then left him ablaze, how much more. We cried and cried some more. Then the next month my cousin was killed on the motorway when I was told, my response was ‘ok’.I think I realised I needed help, I began medication and agreed to be referred to a counsellor through my GP. This I was told would take 3 months, in the meantime I spoke with my boss and she referred me to a counsellor via HR things started to unravel but it was only 4 sessions, I’d hardly broke the ice. Unfortunately my boss refused to fund anymore, this in turn made me realise my value and duly revoked my contract.

I was fortunate that I was able to pursue private counselling. It was a full 12 months before the GP referred counselling came to fruition. These are now complete and I am now in the recovery stage of anxiety and depression and continue the medication. I still have difficult times but I am armed with my toolkit to help me through these times. Anxiety is still an issue but I try not to let it worry me too much. I try not to look backwards as I’m not going that way. I try not to worry about things I can not alter, I try to live for the now as that is what I can change. I realise now I have to look after myself before I can look after anybody else.