A lot has happened recently to make me think of my Nana. It started when my best-friends' Nan got poorly. The situation was so similar to that of losing my own Nana that it was the worst kind of deja vu imaginable. I wouldn't wish what my family went through on my worst enemy never mind my best-friend. And then today, Time To Change published my blog post about stigma and the first thing I thought was that I wish my Nana had been here to see it and to see how well my blog is doing. She always supported my writing and after the mental health things began she always said I should write a book. And now I'm watching 999 What's Your Emergency and the episode is about the elderly, it just showed a man calling the ambulance out for his wife who'd passed out and the paramedics ended up giving her CPR in front of him and it didn't work. It was horrible to watch him being told he'd lost the greatest love of his life... It made me think that's how my Grandad had felt.
So, this post is all about taking some time to remember my Nana.
My Mum has always told me the story of when she brought me up to her parents house (I was born down South) and that my Nana had just took me from her and rushed into the house, leaving my Mum behind! This was just the start of me being the pride and joy of my grandparents! They were always showering me with love.
When Mum and I moved up North we lived with my Nana and Grandad for a short time and they had a dog called Judy who would sit by me, watching me. Then when we moved into the flat it was still only round the corner.
I can remember sitting for hours on end at the dining table with my Nana at hers and my Grandad's house with catalogues. We'd make collages for different rooms in a house with all our favourite items in the catalogues. And I remember her cooking Sunday dinners and the ice cream van would come down their street and I'd go out to get everyone's pudding.
When I was at Middle School my Grandad had three heart attacks and my Nana stayed with me and Mum at the house we moved to after the flat. I thought of it as an adventure and although I remember knowing Nana was worried, I never saw her upset.
As I got older I started buying Mum's Christmas presents with my pocket money and one year, Mum had went out with friends and my Nana was at our house helping me wrap the presents (she was so talented at wrapping and making those wavy ribbons!). Next thing, the Police were at the house telling us my Grandad had been in a car crash. That was the first time I can remember seeing my Nana upset. I think she was in shock more than anything, and she panicked. So, I took charge. I think I was only about 12 but I made all the phone calls to get transport arranged and tell my Mum. Even though it wasn't a nice situation, it felt good to be looking out for my grandparents after all the years they'd been there for me.
In Middle School, the School was literally at the bottom of my Nana and Grandad's street so I'd often just pop in to say hi on my way home.
Through my teenage years I can remember going for walks with them at the beach, going to McDonalds and trying to explain the menu to them and retail therapy at Matalan with my Nana while my Grandad got frustrated with how long he was sat waiting in the car park!
My Mum would speak to my Nana on the phone every night and I was always thankful because it meant I avoided one of her rants about work... My Nana never seemed to get fed up of them; she was such a kind, considerate and thoughtful person; never putting herself first. I remember once my Nana came into a meeting at my High School with my Mum and when I walked out crying she came after me and waited with me 'til Mum came out.
And then when all the mental health stuff started... Well, I never really explained it to my grandparents. They came out to A&E on my first overdose with my Mum. I'm not sure why I didn't really tell my grandparents what was going on... I think I liked the idea of them being innocent to it. All I know is when I experienced all I did from hospital admissions, I began to miss when I'd been naïve to the world of mental health and I didn't want to be the one to cause my grandparents to feel like that. I didn't want it happening to my Mum but that couldn't be avoided since we lived together. If I could avoid causing my grandparents any pain or upset or stress then I was going to do it. So, after medical admissions for overdoses or self-harm, if I needed a lift home I'd tell them I'd been sick or in pain. I did feel bad for not being honest with them but for some time I believed I was doing the right thing... Until they started misunderstanding things. Then I told them about my 'trauma' so they knew who's fault this all was. Gradually though, as my mental health got more unmanageable and the admissions became more frequent I spent less and less time with my grandparents. This, is one of my life regrets and I know my Grandad would say he didn't want me to feel like that and my family would say my Nana wouldn't but it can't be helped.
The majority of my admissions after the third one, are pretty unmemorable but I remember one from March 2012. I'd ran off to Birmingham to overdose and was sectioned after the medical treatment and then transferred via Rapid & Secure to my local psychiatric Hospital. They have a rule there that you can't have any leave within 24hours of being admitted. It just so happened that within those 24hours, my Nana was hospitalized. When I was finally allowed out, it was too late. I felt so bad because I blamed myself for getting sectioned and putting myself in a situation where I couldn't prioritise my family.
These days, I can't even begin to accept the idea of never seeing my Nana again. There are so many things I wish I'd said or done, and now it's too late; I'll never get the opportunity again. I imagine it's going to be something I'll have to work on with the Psychologist but for now, although I don't really have any religious beliefs, I'm comforted by the thought that she's watching me. Somewhere. Witnessing all of my achievements and smiling down at me. Keeping me alive. I think the most upsetting part of losing my Nana was knowing that my Mum had lost her Mum. I'd be lost without my Mum (like, seriously can't even bear to think about it) and now she's experiencing it. I think, that was how I managed to avoid any feelings or grieving because I thought about the rest of my family and focused on being a strength for them. Now though, it's time to feel because I can stop being scared of those feelings and what they might do to me as I'm in a much safer place (physically).
My Nana was and is such an amazing person, if I can be half the woman she was/is then I'd be pretty damn chuffed.
Rest in peace X
the wonder of you