On the 26th October 2014, my great-aunt Dodo passed away, aged 91. Despite her age and the fact that it came after a week battling a terrible chest infection, her death has been a shock. Dodo was always so full of vitality and life, and she had most certainly lived hers to the full. During my time sat next to her hospital bed, I thought a lot about all the things she’d achieved, the places she’d visited, and the advice she had given to me growing up. The most frequent phrase I could remember her saying?
“Just rise above it.”
Whenever I was frustrated about something as a kid, or had got into an argument with my parents or my sister, or if thought I was being treated unfairly, ‘just rise above it’ was the answer. Whatever the problem was didn’t really matter in the long-run, and I shouldn’t waste my time stewing on it. I was loved, I was healthy, and it’d all blow over soon enough. Just rising above it was the best thing I could do for myself.
At the same time as Dodo was in hospital dying, I was realising that personally I had been feeling more alive than ever. I was diagnosed with depression and severe anxiety in late 2012 and again in late 2013 (although by the latter diagnosis both had reduced in severity), but I have a strong suspicion I’d been living with it for years. In the last couple of weeks before my aunt died however, I realised that I’d been feeling happy and genuinely excited about little things – something that hadn’t happened in a long time. Then once my aunt did pass away, I found myself very upset and grieving for much longer than I thought I would. My grandad passed away a couple of years ago when I was in the midst of depression, and whilst I ‘knew’ it was sad, I didn’t really feel anything in particular at the time. Or rather, I was sad, but just pushed it to one side and carried on. With my aunt I couldn’t do this, and it was in the midst of this new sadness that I realised I’d been getting better. Dare I even say, I am better.
I’ve been working since my initial therapy sessions in early 2013 on keeping myself sane. I want to remain happy and healthy, and I want to learn how to ‘rise above it’. This blog is to be a reflection of that journey, and I invite you to share in it. I hope eventually we might be able to help each other.