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  • By girly-d
  • On 08/11/2017

Birmingham New Street train station main entrance is not the place for a meltdown. This is what I am telling myself as I wave goodbye to the taxi driver and attempt to drag both myself and my bags through the automatic doors towards the turnstile.

I'm tired, wired and just really need to catch my train today. So, tempting as it is to just sit on a step with my head on my knees and make the world around me go away right now, it's not really an option for me at the minute. 

I need to find platform 11b. Then I can meltdown all I like. I have 40 odd minutes to spare before my train arrives - I may as well do something constructive....

The journey back to see my family has done me more harm than good. The same as the last time I travelled the 350 odd miles, and the time before that. The absolute definition of insanity....repeating the same destructive patterns over and over yet somehow expecting a different outcome. Today I actually feel insane. I'm anxious and jangled and trying incredibly  hard not to cry.  This is really not good for my head.

My mum has dementia. She is gradually morphing into a child. The disease that is snaking around her brain is getting bigger by the day. It's horrendous.

I was supposed to be grabbing precious family time while I could. While she's still "compos mentis" and knows who I am. Instead I couldn't bear it. I spent the whole time fighting the urge to just run away.

The talking to herself. The constant repetition. The blank looks and the rituals.

Like the serviette she wears constantly around her neck. For no reason apart from the fact that she likes it. Or the carefully laid out pieces of toilet roll that adorn the surfaces around her house....the two empty cardboard boxes that she likes to keep in the kitchen, the old and filthy things that she just won't throw away despite what I, my brother or her carers say.

The carers come twice a day. Every day. To make sure that she is ok and to give her her meds. To allow her to stay in her own home for as long as is possible. The home that gets risk assessed and adapted on a regular basis in an attempt to keep her safe. Mainly from herself. She's not allowed to touch the gas. Or have naked flames. Or shower by herself in case she slips and hits her head....the list of do's and don'ts grows constantly.

I don't know who this "mum" person is. I can't relate to her. But then I never could. And that's the problem. She spent all of my early years putting me through hell. We didn't have a relationship. I have absolutely no idea why I think that would change now.

So, I'd love to say that my journey was awesome, and that my phone is now full of photographs documenting what an amazing time we all had while I was there. But it wasn't. It was a painful, shambolic mess. I spent most of it climbing the walls in my head.

And as for photographs,  I have two. Taken under duress. Mainly in case its the last time we see all get to see each other. 

In both, my mum is smiling but brother looks like a man carrying the world on his shoulders. I look happy. Big smile. It was either that or cry into my yorkshire pudding at the time. I chose the least embarassing option and cracked on.

The journey down from Cornwall was a straight run almost; Just the one change. The journey back is a far more complicated affair. I have three more trains to catch today. I'm glad about that. Having to concentrate on mapping out my journey means that I don't have the headspace to think about the tearful stuff.

Because it is tearful. I'm tearful. I can't bear this horrible stilted rubbish attempt at family life anymore. It's doing me in. I've never known three people with less to say to each other. There are far too many gaping holes and open wounds in our history. And my mum is smack bang dead centre in each and every one of them. Try as I might I can't get over it all. Or the damage that has been done to both me and my brother.

Some might call me selfish. I prefer to call it Self-preservation.

Because for the sake of my sanity I'm not going back again.

anxiety mental health control decisions me myself and i