Personal

My best friend, my inspiration, my mum

I realise I’m a day late with this seeing as Mother’s Day was yesterday, but by the time I had the idea for this post it was getting pretty late.

My mum is one of the strongest people I have known and ever will know. Around my age, shortly after beginning her training at a psychiatric nurse, she developed depression. Unlike me, she didn’t have a support network of friends and family she could open up to. Her own mum (my lovely grandma) didn’t really understand mental illness, as it was common back in those days (the mid-80s) – when stigma was even worse than it is now – to brush it under the carpet. She told her to “get over it”. Eventually, my mum had to drop out of college.

When I was about seven, she had a miscarriage. The whole family was devastated. It transpired only in the past year and a half or so that this was only one of quite a few miscarriages she had had. Thankfully, when I was 10, my brilliant brother was born and my parents finally got the second child they had wanted. My brother was something of a blessing to the family, as he came at a tough time: only the summer before, my mum underwent treatment for melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer). She spent weeks in hospital in Glasgow, having various needles and dyes poked into her veins, having surgery. She basically had to have part of her thigh cut off to get rid of a malignant mole. I’ve never seen my dad as emotional as I did during this time. Terrified that things would take a turn for the worst, I remember him crying in my 9-year-old arms one evening, begging me to stay strong for him.

To much relief, everything went okay and my mum was soon in the all-clear, and she hasn’t stopped powering on through life’s obstacles since.

She may not be a psychiatric nurse like she intended to be, my mum has stayed strong, committing herself to various jobs in order to support us. Some she enjoyed, others she despised – in fact, her depression came back only a couple of months before mine started, and she signed off work on sick leave because she hated it so much and it was worsening her mental health. Eventually, she resigned completely. Only in the past month has she got a new job, which thankfully, she likes so far.

Despite all the problems she’s had to endure, sometimes living in total fear, my mum has stayed strong and has found ways to deal with everything life throws at her. When looking at her, a blonde, slightly wrinkly (sorry Mum!), slender middle-aged woman, you wouldn’t expect that she bakes and designs intricate cupcakes before going out to burlesque classes, classic rock gigs or vintage clothing fairs.

I can tell her anything, and she’s the only person ever with whom I’ve been completely frank about my depression and even self-harm (as it transpires, she also self-harmed in her late teens). I have always been able to tell her what’s on my mind, and even if it’s not what she wants to hear, she will support me and love me no matter what. She’s my best friend.

These are the reasons why my mum is my inspiration in life.

I love you Mum!

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