I’ve never done a personal post before, and this one is kinda long. It’ll tug at your heartstrings and probably make you cry as much as I did while writing it. But it’s time to stop hiding behind phrases of “I’ve literally had the worst start to the year” with no explanations. So, here's my year so far. I hope you have a cuppa.
When it comes to life I have been pretty blessed. I have loving parents who help me with anything I ask them, brothers, who support me through my crazy ideas and a fiance who loves me even on my bad days - and my bad is horrible. My best friend moved away but I know she’s always there when I need her, and as he puts it, we are never far from each other's thoughts. No matter if we talk every day or not.
I’ve found jobs that suited me easily. Which my mum, along with her friends, and my fiance have always gone out of their way to help me apply and prepare for the roles. They push me to strive for greatness and go for things that I would have never gone for before. But then life has a way of turning things around, quickly, suddenly, and heartbreakingly.
This year started with me worried, scared and emotional. My dad came over randomly and I just knew from the look on his face what he was about to tell me wasn’t going to be good. He started with small talk and then after he finished his coffee he said, “Rhianne, I’ve actually come here to talk about mum.”
After those first words, I knew my worst fears were about to be confirmed. My mum had cancer and there was nothing I could do about it. Which is the worst feeling in the world. My heart felt like it dropped to the deepest darkest depths of my stomach and my throat closed up as tears threatened to fall. But I didn’t cry then.
I asked my dad a few questions but we didn’t have much more information than, mum has Lymphoma and she’s going to need treatment. I cried as soon as the door closed and I said goodbye. It was a little surreal as I’d always said when seeing people in movies collapse to the floor when they receive terrible news that “people don’t do that in real life”. I suppose I was right to a certain extent. I didn’t collapse to the floor and cry, I walked to the sofa, sat down, pulled out my phone and text my then boyfriend. It took me 20 minutes to see through the tears and actually write a coherent message.
This then progressed to finding out it was stage one, borderline stage two of Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma (deep breath) and was treatable (exhale). And at the end of January, my mum started chemotherapy. She had 4 cycles each consisting of two sessions two weeks apart. They were bad, so bad that I didn’t even know what to do to help sometimes. I mainly went round to cook her food and make sure she ate, help her with chores and anything else she needed. I think I was mostly there for the company.
Halfway through treatment she got really sick and ended up in the hospital for 5 days. I woke up one morning to a missed call and voicemail from my dad and a text from my mum saying she was in the hospital. I’d never been so scared in my life. That day, I ended up going to work without knowing what was happening and when one of the directors came in and asked me if I was okay, I broke down.
You always try not to bring your personal life into work but sometimes it’s just not possible and I cried. Of course, life is a bitch and as I was being comforted my mum text me back and said she had an infection and needed antibiotics to fight it, but her blood count was low so they were keeping an eye on her. Nothing serious. I think she just didn’t want me to worry. Of course, I visited her every day that she was in there, even though she told me I didn’t have to.
Thankfully she is now through chemo and is progressing onto three weeks of intensive radiotherapy to finish off the cancerous cells and get rid of them - so hopefully by the end of May, she will be cancer free and on the way to recovery.
While I was dealing with a torrent of emotions already mentioned, I have also been dealing with my own health issues. I’m unsure of exactly how Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) works, or how many people know of it. But I am damned sure that my emotional state has been fragile and easily manipulated since December 27th, the day my dad came round to tell me about mum.
Not only was I experiencing my regular emotional mood swings, sharpness in my voice, a chemical imbalance in my brain and tummy upsets, I was also getting other symptoms. Irregular bowel movements (and issues), bloating, binge eating, headaches, low moods, anxiety, lack of interest in anything, feeling out of control and irritability. As you can imagine this put a massive strain on many of my relationships, personal and professional. My life has suffered because of it.
Not many people, or doctors, know about PMDD. I was very fortunate (if you can call it that) as my mum suffers from the condition and saw the signs in me. She took me to the doctors who confirmed it. Since then I have been trying to find anything that will help me control it. Which when one of the symptoms is feeling out of control is very hard. I currently take vitamins, the contraceptive pill and various oils to help control the symptoms and hormonal fluctuations but sometimes it’s just not that easy.
There’s no cure for PMDD unless you count a full hysterectomy, but that’s not really an option for me. Many people don’t understand it and call me names like bossy, rude, arrogant, obnoxious etc. but honestly half the time it’s hard to register when I am having a mood swing or speaking with a short sharp manner. The rare times when I do, it’s almost like I’m experiencing some kind of locked in syndrome where I can see, hear and watch myself do it, but there is nothing I can do to stop it until after the “mood” has passed.
It’s a very difficult condition to live with, especially when the mood swings can come with feelings of depression and suicidal thoughts. Some days I haven’t wanted to get out of bed, and not just the “I feel like a lazy day today” I mean the “I’d rather live here in my bed than face the world” kind of feeling.
I’m slowly learning my triggers, and recognising people's reactions to my moods, but it’s a massive learning curve and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to have full control. I’ve recently discovered some support groups, and I have some more vitamins and supplements that I am going to try to see if they help with whatever goes on inside my body.
I can nought but try, and try I will. Here’s hoping the rest of the year picks up for me.