Will I ever wake?

This is a weird post. Too long for Twitter. I guess I would normally put something like this on Facebook, but I don’t want to give certain people the satisfaction of seeing it. Yet I have to get it out for my own sanity.

A little background for those who don’t know: I have sleep apnoea. I’m not allowed to drive (since May) until it’s under control. The CPAP machine made it worse, so investigations are being done to find out the cause, and hopefully to fix it.

In the meantime, I exist in this foggy half-life. I can function as a normal person, working hard, smiling and laughing, for maybe 5 days in a row at most. Then, the effort of maintaining that facade hits me. I can barely get out of bed at weekends. When I am up, I yawn so much my jaw hurts (coupled with bruxism, from grinding my teeth, trying to stay alive in my sleep).

If I try to tell people, a colleague at work for example, just how exhausted I am, I get told in a mocking tone “yeah, I’m always tired too – I just don’t let it bother me”.

Comments have been overheard too, people talking about double standards, and why I’m not being disciplined for having a few days off here and there, and refusing to accept that they all relate to an existing condition.

I’ve heard the term “invisible illness” before, but only now do I fully understand just what that means, and what effect it has on the person suffering with it.

Today I slept through all of my alarms. When I finally woke, after I should have been at work already, it was just all all I could to phone and tell them I couldn’t come in, before falling back asleep.

I’m cancelling more plans than I’m actually going to. Often letting people down at the last minute as I just can’t find the energy to get ready.

My life is getting smaller and smaller.

The depression I’ve suffered from since I was a teen, has taken on a whole new lease of life. It’s more powerful than it ever has been before, at a time where I barely have the energy to get out of bed.

I think it’s starting to beat me. And I’m so scared. I’m scared of never driving again (my God, do I miss it). I’m scared of seeing my colleagues’ posts on Facebook later, about me having “yet another” day off (ambiguous enough so I can’t prove its about me, but still very obvious and hurtful). I’m scared that my life will just continue to get smaller and smaller until one day there’s nothing left except tears.

But most of all, I’m scared that the latest round of tests/studies will reveal nothing. And that it really isn’t going to get any better than this.

Dinah McNicol

I saw a music video when I was about 16 and it made a huge impact on me. It was interspersed with images of children who were missing at the time and Dave Pirner (lead vocals) appealed at the end for information about these or other missing children. One of the girls in particular I couldn’t get out of my head. Her face has stayed with me since then. Her name was Dinah McNicol.


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The Rules

I know we have to have rules. The world would be in (even more) chaos if everybody did whatever they pleased whenever they chose. People would be hurt and a suffering would be commonplace. But what about those silly rules. You know, the ones that don’t really make sense. The ones where you can’t really work out the reasoning behind it. The ones where the only logical conclusion is that they are there to cause misery.

My daughter and I have come into contact with such a rule very recently.

The issue was her hair colour. The school think it’s inappropriate and wanted it dyed back to a ‘normal’ colour. Her hair had been dyed red since the start of term. Not a bright unnatural red, but more of a reddy-auburn that glowed more red in the sun. Apparently it’s not a naturally occurring colour so was against the school rules.

I could understand it if her hair had been a wild shade of green but as it was it looked more ‘natural’ than one of my daughters friends’ bright ginger hair!

Letters went back and forth between me and the school. We progressed to telephone calls. It culminated in my daughter spending a day in the Junction – an in-school exclusion.

The only solution was for me to dye her hair again.

It seems like a silly thing for me to worry about but my daughter’s hair defines her. She is confident with red hair. She is happy with red hair. She is known as ‘Red’ to several kids in others years. She is utterly distraught.

She settled on black and I dyed it last night. She hates it, much as I thought she would. She’s tried black hair before but it never fit her like the red did. She cried after I had finished and shut herself away, refusing to reply to any of her friends repeated messages and video chat requests.

I just don’t understand why it’s such a big deal to the school. She won’t learn any less because her hair was red. In fact knowing her, she’ll probably learn less now because she’s so gutted and annoyed at the school.

The kids are going through puberty. It’s a hard time for them all, trying to create their identities and find their place in the world. I don’t see what the school have to gain from stifling their personalities. I want my daughter to be her own person – to express herself in a way that’s right for her, not to be pushed into conforming to what everybody else expects.

I can only assume that the school like the kids to all look ‘uniform’ for when visitors come in. But surely it would be better for visitors to see classrooms full of happy pupils?

I’m an adult, but am I a grown up?

I clearly remember being a kid, about 9 or 10, and standing next to my mum at the post office, thinking “I wonder what it feels like to be grown up like mum“. At that time, she would have been 35 or 36: pretty much my age now. So I ask myself now, “What DOES it feel like?“.

In truth, I have no idea.

I know I’m an adult. That’s indisputable. Mid thirties, pretty much divorced, (almost) teenage daughter – the facts are there. I’m definitely an adult.

But a grown up? I’m not so sure.

As a child I knew my parents were grown ups as they were responsible and dependable. They did everything they were supposed to, when they were supposed to. They bought a nice house, renovated it themselves, paid the bills on time, and looked after my brother and I. At the time I didn’t think so, but looking back I know I had it good.

As far back as I can remember, my parents were always grown up. Always a bit bogged down in the mundane parts of life that need to be dealt with.

My daughter thinks the same as I did as a child. Apparently I’m too old to listen to music that she likes, too old to wear Converse “They don’t make them for old people”, and too old to use certain words and phrases that she uses, like ‘I know right’, and ‘totes’.

If I compare myself now to my mum when I was a kid, I’m drastically different. I listen to music all the time, go to gigs, am happy going out on my own, often meet up with friends for a drink, and pursue my own interests. She never did any of them. So from that comparison I conclude that I can’t be grown up yet, as I’m still having too much fun.

But what I think is the crucial difference between me and my mum, the fact that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that I haven’t grown up yet, is the fact that she never seemed to make mistakes. She always knew what to do at any given time. No crisis was too big, no problem couldn’t be solved.

Mistakes for me are commonplace. I stumble rather than sail through life, and it seems like I lurch from one crisis to the next. Now I wonder though; did my mum do that too, but just hide it from me? Her circumstances were different; she was happily married to my dad, whereas I am a single mum. So I guess I need to compare myself with people in the same boat as me.

Have none of us grown up?

What do you see?

When people look at me what do they see? I’ve often wondered what kind of impression I make.

Age is a big factor; I’m in my mid-thirties. A couple of well-meaning friends tell me I look younger, but I think the best I could get away with is early thirties.

Dress sense is another factor. I’ve been told I dress like a student. In the past this has been partly due to a shortness of money; for quite some time I’ve looked out for bargains on eBay or for something funky in charity shops. I don’t really have to do that now, and I admit I do buy a few things from shops too, but I like a bargain, and I love not wearing the same as everyone else.

I like how I dress. I wear things for quirkiness and comfort, and it helps to keep me feeling relaxed.

I have a good job. A job I love, but when people see me walking from the bus stop to work, would they think that? Would they look at my studenty attire and assume something entirely different? To some, I must appear scruffy; to some, I’m sure I look like I don’t have a care in the world.

To people see me and know straight away that I’m a mum to an almost teenager? Can they tell I suffer with depression? Do they know that it would take just a handful of words to make me laugh or make me cry? Or do people see the impression I try to give off; that I’m successful, confident and happy in every aspect of my life?

I guess to some extent we all judge, whether we mean to or not. If I didn’t know who Richard Branson was but saw him in the street, I’d never think he was the most successful entrepreneur of our generation. I’d just think “family man with a dodgy taste in jumpers”.

A man walked into me at the bus stop a couple of weeks ago, reeking of alcohol. It was 7:30am. I’ll admit, my opinion of him was instant: drunken mess of a man. Only now as I write this do I stop to wonder what made him like that. What his story might be. For all I know his life may have fallen apart in a catastrophic event that he couldn’t stop or control. He may have been successful and happy, living a life that was perfect for him. Perhaps, when the hairline cracks became chasms, he was just unable to cling on.

Some people keep going, while for some it just gets too much. So far, I’ve been the former. I just hope people realise what an achievement that is when they look at me.