Once Upon a Time there was a very ordinary girl who fell under a spell and her body slept for a very long time indeed. She made many wishes for it to wake up - and one day it did. Now the very ordinary girl's wishes are for other people's own spells to be broken. Here is one of them...
There's so much silence and isolation around chronic illness. So much left unsaid. But when confidences are trusted and whispered to me by you from all around the world, they are the same whispers every time. And it's always about That Date.
See when we have been very poorly for a very long time there comes a moment where we just can't take it anymore. When that day arrives there is a magic date in our heads that we give ourselves. The day we hit rock bottom and we know we surely cannot survive living like this any longer. That no one would expect us to. On that day we give ourselves a year, a year to that exact day-and if things do not improve by then we give ourselves permission to take control. We will make sure that it is over once and for all.
Everyone thinks it is only they who have this thought, but it's simply not true. Because if it was then I wouldn't need to be writing this. I wouldn't have had the people who find me all whispering me their date, finally saying what hitherto had been left unsaid. The date it will be over by, the carrot dangling on the stick that they feel makes getting through the here and now is possible.
I meet so many people frighteningly close to their own date with ending it all. So many. Far too many. I came very close to my own, so close, far too close. That date when it is too late to say the unsaid because the unfinished has now been finished.
I'm used to people finding me randomly, whether it's through my website or a chance meeting with a friend or relative literally on the street sometimes (I've a massive mouth and will talk to anyone who stands still long enough). It is always a friend or relative because the person who needs to be helped cannot leave the house (yet).
But today for the first time ever I realised there will be a point where I am too late. Where the person talking to me will start with telling me about their loved one being housebound, but end with telling me that they couldn't take it anymore and took their own life. That the help they needed did not get to them in time.
Today I sat on a London bus and I cried at the futility of what I seem to be doing. When so many need help but are told over and over that there is none-so often that they start to believe it and stop seeking the answers that can be provided so easily. That's why it seems to be reaching so few. To the majority who need it - it is still left unsaid.
Sometimes acceptance of a situation is just resignation. If I seems like the fight has gone out of a loved one when it comes to their hope of recovery then we need to be aware that there may be something far more sinister occurring than them simply finding peace with where they are. It's not ok to be housebound for years, to have a body that does not work. It's not easy to deal with being cared for full time. To watch your life slipping by. It's not simply to be endured. And it's okay to admit that you have the feelings of being unable to bear it any longer. Just saying it out loud is enough to start finding the help you need to get you past this part.
I have also played my part in building this wall of silence. Of not being as open as I could have been about how far someone can be sliding into their pit of despair without any outward signs showing. I have allowed people to wear their masks in front of me and said nothing. But it needs to stop. There is no shame in admitting that life can seem unbearable. That we are standing in the dark and no longer have any hope that the light will find us. Just speak it out loud is all I'm asking. Let someone else carry it for you for a while.
There is hope. There is always hope. We have to keep edging as near to this feeling of hope as we can - living the really tough days out moment by moment. We have to keep talking to each other, keep sharing the things that we know work. Be generous with our own cures and our miracles. Not be afraid that we will be laughed at by experts or peers. Everyone laughed at me.
People still don't take me seriously when I tell them I can help them- and I don't blame them. Don't exactly look like a powerhouse of knowledge, do I? I don't look like anything special at all. Because I'm not. That's the point. I'm just an ordinary lass with a slightly unusual story that I refuse to keep quiet about . Until my recovery becomes an accepted norm.
If I say my unsaid things - and you say your unsaid things and we all hold each other's hands during the bits we are most afraid to speak. If we just keep repeating ourselves anyway-even through the fear of ridicule - then it is my greatest hope that people will listen. And people will get well. Now. Today. And all the tomorrow's to come. There will be no need to set ourselves any dates for when it will be over. There will be no talk of endings. Only endless beginnings. And then the real living can start.