Grief

They say the 5 stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. That sounds like a checklist, doesn’t it? Like when you are grieving you’ll go A>B>C>D>E and then you’ll arrive at acceptance fully grieved and ready to move on. It doesn’t work like that. You may not experience all 5. You may even experience several at once. I’ve found that you tend to jump to the one you’re most well acquainted with and, for me, that’s depression.

The Christmas before my 4th birthday I received a microscope. It’s a very exciting present for me because I was a strange 3 year old. It came with slides you could examine that the creators of this product believed would be interesting to a young child such as a blade of grass, some fungus, part of a grasshopper. But it also gave you the opportunity to create your own slides. I was very excited about this. In all the chaos that surrounded that particular Christmas because everyone seemed to be there, my Grumps scooped me up and my uncle, Graham, picked up the microscope and we went into the kitchen. Time is a confusing idea for a child so what felt like a very long time for me may not have been that long at all. But at some point, my Granny came looking for us as she’d noticed the 3 of us had disappeared. What she found was toddler Becca sat cross legged on the kitchen island with her granddad and her uncle showing her how the microscope worked and what it actually did. She came over and looked at what we were doing and saw that we had begun creating our own slides. I think she may have been concerned as well however as there was one slide only marked “G” that had a drop of blood on it and my uncle with a plaster on his thumb. A failed attempt at trying to look at blood cells under the microscope.

When I was 10, I had my reading interests broadened by that same uncle when he gave me the Phillip Pullman triology “His Dark Materials” for my birthday. Albeit they freaked me out a little bit but it did open my literary intake to more than just the Sleepover Club and Jacqueline Wilson novels. From that point onwards, Graham was the go-to man for reading suggestions in my mind.

One day, when I was 15 and not long after I’d dyed my hair practically black for the first time, we were all getting ready for a family gathering. My aunt, uncle, and cousins were up from Norfolk. I was wearing my “Master of Puppets” t-shirt, that is still probably one of my favourite shirts now, which warranted stuff said to me by other uncles like “Wait so are you an emo now?” not mentioning any names – though Nick, Chris and Mike I’m looking at you – and other fabulously witty comments along those lines because I come from a long line of comedians. Graham stood there and looked at me for a second before nodding his head and going back to whatever he was doing. Later that day he began a Spanish Inquisition style questioning of my music tastes in an attempt, I think, to figure out whether I was actually a fan of the music or I was attempting to make some kind of statement. That one conversation paved the way for many others regarding music. They for some reason always included a debate on whether or not Metallica’s “St Anger” album was really a bad album or whether or not it was misunderstood. For the record, Graham, Some Kind of Monster is one of the best songs on that record and I will go to the mat on that one.

I’m sitting staring at the two boxsets he gave me of a show called Dark Angel and I cannot for the life of me remember how that came about or how it ended up with him giving me them. But I guess I’ll need to give them a watch now. Although I don’t have anyone to discuss it with which makes me really just want to leave them on the shelf.

These things and many others that I don’t have time to list or even the ability to list are all incredibly important memories that I have. They in many ways are part of my journey in coming to know and realise who I am and how it’s okay to be different. And that’s gone now, and I’m really struggling with it. So go hug your family, or if your family are like mine go insult them in a loving way. Because it can be gone all too quickly.

That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.
– John Green

Anxiety

As most of you know I struggle with depression and anxiety. And I’ve only just recently realised how limiting my anxiety has been throughout my life and it’s made me quite sad.

I sit here has a 21 year old girl who probably has 3 friends and the rest of my friends are more like friendly acquaintances. And for the most part that is entirely my fault. I have let my anxiety limit me.

When I moved school to Helensburgh I used to hang out by myself before school started then at break and lunch until one of the girls in my class came looking for me and asked what I was doing and why wasn’t I sitting with them. My reasoning being that they’d all made their friend groups and I felt like I’d be intruding and that made me anxious so I decided not to do it. After school I fell out of touch with a lot of people because seeing them would involve actually having to go outside or travel and that gave me anxiety so I kept making excuses until I was no longer invited places.

I did it again when we moved church only this time I was nearly 19, not 14. When my family started I didn’t go with them because I was so depressed that I didn’t leave my bed for nearly a month and by that point the damage was probably already done in regards to my confidence in meeting new people. It really didn’t help that my depression was messing around with my short term memory and attempting to remember people’s names was an almost impossibility. I still struggle even now. Once again I sat by myself and didn’t attempt to speak to anyone because everyone already knew each other and I felt like I would be intruding if I did. I didn’t go to things I was invited to and used the distance as an excuse and turned down lifts when they were offered to me because I didn’t want to put people out.

And as I sit here debating on whether or not I post this because it’s giving me anxiety imagining that anyone thinks this is a dig at them – which it most definitely is not – I realise just how much I don’t understand my anxiety disorder let alone how difficult it must be to understand for someone that doesn’t get anxious. I have walls up constantly but at the same time am very upfront and direct. It makes no sense to me.

The things exam stress brings to the forefront of your mind, eh? This definitely isn’t helping me memorise the diagrammatic way to represent the stratigraphy of an archaeological site now is it.