So, the other night I went to the Birthday party (with live music from We Steal Flyers) of my best-friend (Lauren)’s Mum (Julie) and a lot about the night inspired this blog post.
Since our regular nights out in 2011, Lauren and I have always said her family (namely her Mum, Dad, and Brother) are like a second family because I was constantly at their house and they treat me like a second Daughter! We were all always in Lauren’s room or the Kitchen, drinking vodka and laughing at YouTube fail videos and then there were the very few nights in when we’d watch Mock The Week, drink wine, and play with the dogs!
Knowing Lauren since 2007 has meant that we’ve gone through a lot together; we’ve seen each other cry, laugh, love, smile, get angry, get drunk, vomit, pee, poo, sleep, grieve the loss of family members, go through relationship breakups, buy houses, get new pets, develop new favourites, change our hobbies, progress through our careers, move through education, and just generally grow up!
Becoming friends before my mental health problems began meant that Lauren has literally been there for me since the very beginning; she visited me in the Psychiatric Hospital, sent me cards when I was at Cygnet, and text me while I was sat in A&E after overdosing or self-harming.
Lauren moved to Coldstream a little while ago and as horrible as it’s been knowing that she isn’t a ten minute drive from my home, I’ve reminded myself that her being further away means she’s living with the love of her life, and is surrounded by his incredibly, kind, and down-to-earth family. She’s happy there so I’m happy for her… plus, their new home means I have my own bedroom whenever I need a break!
My #1 Family
My family is incredibly small; I have a Grandad (who I rarely see), an Aunt (who lives in Dubai), an Uncle (who I never see) and my Mum. That’s it. When my Nana died a few years ago we lost our family glue. Before her passing, we hadn’t been the closest or most functional of families, but we worked together and initially, when she died, we showed some serious teamworking skills and our relationships were truly tested. I thought that maybe it would be the becoming of our family and that we’d be the perfect little example of a successful family! I thought we’d all be there for one another and support each other in all of our endeavors but I was wrong. I like to think that if something really terrible happened to one of us then everyone would be there in a flash but in the meantime, on those days that are just hard (and not terrible) the family is sort of halved. I have my Aunt and my Mum. Thing is, that’s good enough! The level of love and support I get from these two inspirational women is so completely helpful on a hard day that I don’t notice the absence of messages from my Uncle and Grandad.
Sometimes I wish there’d been more younger people in the family – cousins or something – because I would’ve had a family member that’s more relatable and who I’d have more in common with. I also wondered if losing my Nana, it might have helped too because we could have been experiencing the grief in a more similar way than that which the rest of my family experienced because I’m the only Granddaughter so there’s no one with a similar sort of relationship to her. However, I’m more than grateful for my little family and I know that we’d all do that saying… ‘walk over hot coals’ for one another.
And if you know me, then you’ll know that I couldn’t talk about my ‘number one family’ without mentioning my pets; my bunny – Pixie, and kitten – Emmy. Both have a hugely positive impact on my mental health and for very different reasons so they really are part of the family!
I recently had a huge realization that I could look on rarely seeing my two very best friends (Ellie and Lauren) as positive because it means we’re each living our lives the way we want to and doing what we love. I think that we’ve each gone down different paths in life and whilst Lauren has spent her time working, finding her partner, and buying a home; Ellie has had children, put a huge focus on her education (she’s training to be a Pediatric Nurse) and found herself a husband(!), and then there’s me! I’ve spent over ten years trying to find mental stability and having my greatest achievement – I’m NOT Disordered. Something really essential in our friendship is that none of us judge one another for the way their life has turned out.
Another positive to us all rarely seeing one another is that it becomes a bit of a test on our friendship. When we get together it’s like we’ve never been apart; we’re just as close as ever and we love each other just as much and actually – we have so much more to talk about when we haven’t seen each other for a little while!
My other two close friends; Georgie and Martin also have completely different lives. I think that I find it interesting to have close friends with such varied day-to-day routines because it challenges me in recognizing that there’s no pressure to have made certain achievements by a particular age – a belief that I have really struggled with. My friends protect me from feeling like a failure or resenting what has happened to me because I believe that if it hadn’t, I’d be in the ‘correct’ place in life for my age.
Over two years ago, I found a voluntary position on do-it.org for an Advertising Assistant at a support group for people who are unwaged and, after applying, I had my interview with the group’s Founder and Chair. On my first meeting with all of the group members, I ended up running out crying because the meeting became a huge argument over politics, and I thought that I’d been lied to about what the group actually stood for. So over two years later, everyone – including me – is surprised that I’m still with them let alone now Chair of the entire organization!
I’d gotten a new voluntary position and believed that I couldn’t do both so I chose the new one but really struggled with the idea of leaving everyone so I wracked my brains trying to think of something that might really convince me to stay and came up with becoming Deputy Chair. At the next Annual General Meeting (AGM) I put myself forward for the position and then the Chair said he thought I should take the reins completely and a unanimous vote by the group members sealed the deal! I couldn’t believe it and part of me worried whether I was ready to take on such a responsibility and an important role in the organization.
Being with these people for over two years and having them put so much confidence and faith in me has me looking at the group as a little family. I try to instill this mentality in everyone because I want members to feel safe and secure in talking about their day-to-day struggles around being unemployed.
And of course, there’s you guys!
I like to think of us all as a family – I mean, I literally spill my guts to you all almost on a daily basis and I couldn’t do that without trusting you all in that you’ll support me and not try to tear me down with negative comments (I’ve only ever had three in the six years I’ve been blogging!). I’ll be forever grateful to you all because without I’m NOT Disordered’s popularity, I wouldn’t be offered the most incredible opportunities that I have.