This is not a 2018 round up.
In many ways it was a horrible year that I have spent most of the last few weeks trying not to look back on. Professionally, it was one of the best years of my life.
However, one of the huge positives to come out of this year has been the reminder of how bloody fantastic people can be when you are struggling. So this isn’t a round up of a year of tears and frustration, or of the things I’m actually pretty proud of. This is a round up of the people who have quite literally kept me on this planet when I genuinely didn’t see any reason to stay (at some point, when I’m feeling strong, there will be a blog on Disability and Mental Health – but not today). I’m not using names, they know who they are, but I think sometimes we all need to remember that support is there, for all of us, people are incredible, and we just need to reach out, even when it seems no one could possibly care or understand.
When someone who has met you in person literally a couple of times turns up in your new cottage amongst the boxes, bags, and detritus of a newly-single, massively overwhelming life and helps you dig through, fold, organise, and make your house a home (whilst also helping you to put up fairy lights and bunting, having clocked that otherwise you’ll just attempt it alone, fall, die, and be discovered half eaten by your pet tortoises); she’s a keeper. If she subsequently clocks that you feel like your whole life is falling apart, spontaneously turns up in her car and takes you for a drive to meet a (slightly scary) cat, to break the cycle of you really not being ok; she should know she’s adopted for life. Soz pal.
If on the night your life actually has fallen apart, someone turns up in your temporary flat (which has no functioning lights in the bedroom), orders pizza, tidies your room (yes, there is a tidying theme to my friendships, I pick them well), and cleans out your goldfish while you sit on the sofa pretending to function when you’re actually quietly hyperventilating; never let her go.
Ever been taken to a carpark as a surprise on a Saturday afternoon when you’d got a wild weekend planned, (involving hiding in your cottage pretending to be important and busy while actually watching Netflix in bed until your eyes hurt because at least then you’d be crying for a medical reason)? I have.The carpark had beer, a ludicrous amount of amazing food, and I didn’t care how hard it rained. This is after said person had found out I was unexpectedly moving to Yorkshire alone, realised I was totally overwhelmed, and sent me a ridiculously long email listing all the amazing places this county has to offer.
One ‘came for a weekend away’, spent half of it with my parents (greater love…), and then proceeded to refuse to leave my kitchen until it actually sparkled. She made umpteen bridesmaid dresses that she then wore to be my Plus One to events where I’d have felt stupidly self-conscious if I was alone, and reminded me to celebrate my achievements. The millionth time I crashed in her home on next-to-no notice, I arrived to a bag of Cardamom Coffee on my pillow (and thus, she became my dealer).
The (not-so) tame psychiatrist, who for hours listened, nodded, never judged, and organised an incredible weekend away for me and my friends, leaving the head of a Unicorn Pinata in my bed with a trail of Sour Skittles ‘unicorn blood’ coming out of it, alongside a bottle of my favourite whisky.
The ‘Mentor’ who has also taken the role of ‘Manager’, ‘Agent’, ‘Bodyguard’, ‘Chief Joint Relocator’, ‘Charmer of Parents’, and ‘Destroyer of Chairs’; he has lost literally hours of his life listening to me fall apart, putting me back together, and reminding me I’m ‘glorious’, whilst simultaneously refusing to take any of my shit.
The pair who despite living in a different country, sent gifts, messages, memes, facebook comments, reassurance, eye rolls, hugs, and train-based video calls just to check in, and loved me despite the crazy for the umpteenth year in a row.
The one who needed actively persuading not to drive down the length of the country on a precious weekend off to drive me and all my worldly belongings from London to Leeds, then turned up and unloaded said car in Leeds anyway.
My girls who having not heard from me in 18 months, took me away for a weekend in the country to cuddle animals, drink and talk until we fell asleep, much much happier.
Another became the King of the random WhatsApp convo, the three hour long phone calls about nothing in particular, and the constant, firm reassurance that I was going to get through it all. I did, thanks in no small part to him.
The one who took me to a park when my brain was mush, let me play Superheroes with her kids, fed me burgers, beer, wine and cocktails, talked, listened, supported, and brought me breakfast in bed when I really needed a home from home.
The team who, despite my being a total nightmare to work with while my personal life resembled a slow-motion car crash, dropped everything to travel SOUTH OF THE RIVER to sit with me in a bar on my birthday, travelled to Derbyshire for a weekend, pushed my mother around a food festival in the rain, and never once judged me for my truly questionable life choices while letting me crash on their living room floors – I never meant to be such an exciting colleague or friend. Sorry about that.
There are many, many others I could and should talk about; just know I am grateful to every single one, and I am so so lucky to have you all in my life.
I have not been the greatest friend or support at various points this year, there has been a lot of snot, many tears and masses of frustration. I’ve not covered myself in glory as a human being either, and yet this lot have stood by me, adopted me, and reminded me to eat, even when I was at my most horrendous. My point is this: if they can love and support me, when I’m a really crappy person, the chances are that you more than deserve the same. So ask. Reach out. Pick up the phone, send a stupid gif if you can’t make words, but know – you aren’t alone. My friends are remarkable, but they’re also human, and I like to think we’re programmed to look after each other when the chips are down. You’re really not alone.
So, it’s 2019, and I’m back. Everything I achieve from here on in is down to them.