Monday, 21 March 2016

Dear Grandad.

Dear Grandad. 

It's been 15 months since you died, and at the same time it feels like it's been 15 years and 15 minutes. Sometimes I can deal with it, sometimes it hits me so hard in the stomach I feel as sick as I did when my dad uttered the words 'grandad passed away'. I've never felt physical pain at an emotional reaction before that moment before. There were so many things I wanted to say to you, and I never got the chance. So many nights I sit here and think of all the times I would tell you off for saying something silly, or I was too hungover or angry or upset to pay attention to you and ignored you. You don't know what I'd give right now to have a conversation about anything with you, the weather, the tv, your medications. Anything, just to hear your voice again. 
I didn't realise it when you were alive, but your greeting every day was the one I loved the most. That 'hello Rosie' would make my day everyday without me even realising. No matter what was happening, you always said good morning to me, and a lot of the time I probably ignored you. I'll never be able to forgive myself for all the times I told you stop talking or didn't listen. Like I said, all I want to do now is go downstairs tomorrow morning, and see you sat in your chair, reading the paper with the TV muted (which we both know used to drive me mad), turning round with your beautiful big smile and greeting me. The last full sentence you managed to say to me was 'hello Rosie', somehow even though you were hooked up to all kinds of tubes and wires, and struggling for every breath, you managed to make it sound exactly how it always did, and it's a sound I try to remember every day so I will never forget it. 

I also want to say sorry for the last time I saw you. I don't know if you remember it, but you were in your hospital bed, and I came in to sit by you and hold your hand. There was so much I wanted to say, good bye, I love you, please don't go, please get better. But I couldn't. I remember I just sat there holding your hand, memorising your face and crying, crying, crying. You were my super hero, and super heroes aren't supposed to die. I know how much you hated to see people cry, and I hate that your last image was of me doing just that. In the end I don't think I managed to say anything to you at all. I thought I'd known heartbreak before this, but this was something else. This physically hurt every bone, muscle, organ, cell in my body. It was all I could think about. I think part of the reason I couldn't say bye was because that made it so final. If I said bye, I had to accept that you were going. And to include a hefty dose of family drama (you did so love that after all) if I spoke out loud I would lose even more control and there were certain people there that I didn't want to do that in front of. So instead I just held your hand, looked right in to your eyes and cried. I hope you understand, I was completely incapable of doing anything else. 

Did you know I told my friends you were going to get better? At 22 years old, a full grown adult, I genuinely thought it was impossible for people you love to die. This was my first experience with death, and until this I didn't actually believe in it. If my friends asked, I told them I didn't know when but you would be home soon, I was in total denial. Even when I was told that you'd gone, for an hour after I expected to get a phone call telling me they'd made a mistake, you were still alive and still fighting on. Fighting is the best word for it. I've seen physical fights before, but they're nothing compared to the strength, stubbornness and force you carried through with you until you passed away. People use the term 'fight for their lives' and I've never understood it until I sat for 5 days and watched you fight with everything you had, summoning strength from every breath for yours. I'm just sorry the opposition turned out to be stronger in the end. 

When I think of you now, I don't always imagine you in heaven. But when I do I imagine you surrounded by your mum, dad, your best friend from school, nans parents and everyone around you who had gone before you and missed. I like to think they were there to greet you that Tuesday morning, and they showed you the ropes. I used to stand in the cemetery and imagine you sat in a tree watching me standing over your grave, giving our choice of flowers your seal of approval. A week after you passed there was a sudden short hail storm, followed by bright sunshine and beautiful rainbow, I like to think that was from you, as were the late bloom of roses we got. When I see unexpected beautiful things, I think it's you letting us know you're still here, you're still watching. There is still beauty in a terrible thing. 

Of all the things I wanted to say to you at the end was that I love you. I will always love you. I didn't get to say it, but I hope you knew and still know how much I loved, and continue to love you. How much everyone loves you still. I will never forget you, and I will make sure everyone around me knows what a perfect gentlemen you were. I know I'm lost in my life at the moment, but if I can draw on even half of the strength and stubbornness that you could, I know I'll be okay. 

Miss you always, love you forever. 
Rosie x 

Friday, 11 March 2016

Sleep Paralysis. Yep, it's a thing.

So last night for the first time in a long time, I had an episode of sleep paralysis. Sleep Paralysis is more common than you'd think, but many people will luckily go through their lives never having to deal with it. Sleep paralysis is more common in teenagers, young adults, and people with existing mental health issues. Unfortunately I fit in to 2 of those categories. I have mental health problems and I am a young adult. Sleep Paralysis is fairly hard to explain in full. Scientifically and simply put, it's your brain waking up before your body wakes up. I can hear and see, but I can't move my body without feeling that I'm using extreme force, then when I think I'm able to move all my limbs are numb. I'm not an expert in REM sleep and non-REM sleep, but it occurs when the two basically become confused, and your body panics.

Years and years ago, it was believed that it was the effects of a demon, or a spirit visiting you, some kind of link to the supernatural. And I can see how people came to this conclusion, during an episode of Sleep Paralysis you feel so terrified that you also feel that you're being watched the entire time. My Sleep Paralysis also affects my face. I try to call for help, but it literally feels like my face is sliding down, almost melting, and I can't get any words out, just strange sounds. The feeling of not being able to move your limbs also helps to convince you that there is something in the room with you, as far as you are concerned, you are awake. You think the reason you can't move is because there is something holding you down stopping even your little finger from moving. All of my episodes have occurred in dream replicas of my own home. You know normally in dreams you'll be at 'home' but actually it will be someone else's home? Sleep Paralysis takes place in an exact replica of my bedroom, down to what bed sheets I have, where I put things during the day, everything will look exactly as I left it, adding to the feeling that you are awake. For example in last nights dream, I turned my lamp on and staggered in to my mums room for help, I'd bet my life savings on it, that is who real it feels. But when I spoke to my mum today, I obviously didn't come in to her room, and when I finally woke up, my lamp was not turned on.

I have no idea how long it lasts for, I've never been able to work that out, sometimes it feels like just a few minutes, sometimes it feels like its been hours. Then it suddenly stops and your body fully wakes up to match your brain. It can take a few seconds to realise that you're totally awake, and it's not a dream again. I find the only way to get fully out of it is to turn all the lights on, walk around, wash my face in cold water and have a drink. I find I need to be fully awake or I'll just go straight back in to it again. I also have no idea what brings on my Sleep Paralysis, it's not something people have ever found definitive triggers for. Some people think it's just the link to mental health problems, other people think it's linked to stress, over tiredness, bad sleeping patterns. Something everyone gets at some points, but still less than half of the population will suffer from this.

I'm not 100% sure why I wrote this post. I've not had an episode for over a year now, but when I was 19 I was having episodes multiple times a night for weeks and weeks on end. Basically it means that things in my head are bad again, which I was starting to see anyway. I feel like maybe this time I should follow through with everyone's idea of what is wrong with me? By not confronting my own mind I'm going to end up losing everything I care about, through my own fault.

Rosie x