I have a few different ways of coping with tough times; I seek comfort in the written word - those of others and in the creation of my own. I listen to music, I throw myself into work. But the backbone to all of these things is my outlook: one of positiveness and gratuitousness for my life.
But like all of us, there are times when this falls short. You find yourself feeling a little dark, a little blue, a little helpless. I must admit, I didn't begin my week in the best of moods, due to being ill and finding it difficult to support my Mum at the same time.
I had a blissful Sunday planned. I was going to leisurely do some work, write, and then go for brunch with a dear friend. I hadn't anticipated a trip to Beaumont Hospital. After a few hours of dire pain (it felt like I was being slowly gutted) and some tests, I was informed by the doctors that it's highly likely I'm coeliac and my ill condition is a result of intestinal irritation. Initially, I was thankful - this was a lot less scary than other illnesses that were being considered.
By the time I got out of the hospital, I was relieved to be going home and relieved that I no longer had to try avoid eye-contact with the cute doctor who saw more of me than I care to admit. Yes, I know, he's well used to such things, but I'm not, and I still feel juvenile embarrassment at the memory.
My outlook towards this diagnosis was positive; with a lifestyle and diet adjustment, I could avoid such flare-up's in the future. "It could be worse" was my thinking. My Mum, however, was not on the same wave-length as me. To me, she was over-reacting to the event and between the self-pity and her pessimistic outbursts, I was in a foul mood by Monday morning.
The optimism I tried to hold onto was being lost in the downpour. Still quite sick and weak, I simply did not have the energy to try to comfort and reassure her. I could barely eat a yogurt, never mind circle the wagons to give her a pep talk. I felt dark. Sleep-deprived, my patience became non-existent and I felt my annoyance at her increasing. And then felt guilty at such emotions.
I argued with myself mentally. On the one hand, it's natural that she was worried about me and being a bit smothering. "You should cut her some slack" I thought and as such, tried to reach out to her to let her know I was here for her if she wanted to talk or wanted some company. But, dealing with her own emotions, she closed herself off and retreated to her room for very early nights and very late mornings.
Being bipolar, my Mum finds it difficult to keep her mood swings in check. She overreacts to situations. If she's having a bad day, a minor annoyance becomes the falling of the sky. It's hard to deal with, for both her and myself.
Now that it is just my Mum and I living together, I find such moments oppressive. When she's in a depressive state, everything in the house becomes very, very still. Not in a calming way, but in an ominous way. If I go out, I worry about her. If I stay, I become frustrated with the climate and find myself frazzled. It's a catch 22.
You try your best to keep your outlook positive, but it's not easy when you're feeling alone. I'm very lucky in that I have wonderful people in my life and it is these people who, whether they knew it or not, have kept me going over the last few days. The phonecalls, the texts, the genuine inquiries of my well-being and offers to help in any way they could. These people know who they are and I cannot thank them enough, especially because they took time out of their own busy lives to do such things.
But I must admit that in these dark moments, I was hurt by the lack of effort from people I would've expected it from. People who I have moved heaven and earth to be there for in their time of need; whose causes I've championed, whose rants I've sympathized with and whose spirits I've tried to lift in tough times.
I will say it again, I am very lucky to have some wonderful people in my life. But it is a sad feeling when your "go-to" person/people in crisis just don't seem to be bothered. It's obvious when someone is sending you an obligatory text and it's even more obvious when someone is indifferent to what you're going through - usually through radio silence. And yet it is these very people who will look to you for advice and support when they're stressed or upset. How is it that even as adults, some people find it difficult to comprehend that the maintenance of relationships is not a one-way street?
And so we come back to outlook. I could wallow in self-pity, feel hard-done that loved ones seemed happy to let me deal with events on my own and allow my frustrations at my Mum's condition to colour everything in red. Or, I could take the other option. I could acknowledge that while things are difficult, they won't always be this way and that if I respond to situations positively and rationally my stress levels will thank me for it. I can dust myself off, slick on some lipstick and remind myself of who I am.
It's been raining all day, but the clouds are beginning to part and there is some sunshine breaking through. I choose option two.