Writing blog posts when you feel like you’re desperately holding on, white-knuckled, to the side of a cliff, is… difficult. 

Scrap that. Doing ANYTHING is difficult.

Lying in bed. Difficult.

Getting out of bed. Difficult.

Thinking. Difficult.

Blinking. Difficult.

Breathing. Difficult.

Maybe difficult is the wrong word there. Maybe it’s an understatement. Maybe I’ve just typed it too many times. Either way, this is not how I planned to spend my Saturday afternoon. It’s not how I planned to spend Friday either. Or Thursday. Or Wednesday. It’s not how I planned to spend any part of my life, but it’s here and that’s that. 

Over the years, I’ve heard everything from ‘get over it,’ ‘you’re faking it’ and ‘it’s all in your head’ to ‘don’t bottle things up, you need to feel it,’ ‘there’s no shame in any of this’ and ‘you’re stronger than you think, you’ll make it out of the darkness and into the light.’ When you’re slipping, those latter comments get drowned out. You’re sure that you’re never going to make it out of the darkness. It’s going to swallow you whole and you’re going to end up curling in a ball and dying right there. But, eventually, I hear one word:  

Gratitude.

My brain will argue. But what is there to be grateful for when you’re hanging off the side of the cliff? What is there to be grateful for when your already sore wrists (thank you, car accident) are struggling to keep their grip to the practically smooth cliff face? What is there to be grateful for when you’re suffering through your own head? No one else will understand that. No one can. They aren’t in your bloody head!

As if there are giant neon arrows pointing to it, you’ll pick out a single sentence in a text message or a passing comment in a conversation, and they’ll drip a little gratitude into your head. And then another drip from another person. A few more from a third. Some from a fourth, until you start seeing the things you ought to be grateful for. Little tealights that help light the darkness. Because if you focus on the darkness, you miss everything else.

You miss the sisters who manage to turn every question, every remark, into an innuendo that makes you blush and giggle. Who tease you and teach you and remind you just how far you’ve come. Who promise you that you’ve got this, that you’re exactly where you’re meant to be, but that it’s okay to ask for help. It’s not a weakness and you’re not alone. 

You miss the cousin who is spending her savings to come to Paris with you to celebrate your birthday in the way that you want to. Who stops studying or working to update you on the Eastenders-style drama that’s happened that week. Who tells you outright that you’re not the ogre you appear to see when you look in the mirror but it’s comforting to know that you hate yourself just as much as she hates herself. You’re not alone. 

You miss the friends are there when you need to talk, to hold your hand or be your shoulder to cry on, but also distract you too. Who argue with you about what qualifies a man to be a silver fox, or who get you souvenirs from their latest jobs because they know you’re a fan of what they’re working on. Who come on adventures with you, regardless of whether they’re actually interested in the subject matter, but know that you are and you’re not alone. 

You miss the people that aren’t always physically there. The friend from school that met someone that reminded him of you and wanted to get in touch. The stranger that sends you a magazine because your mutual friend told her you can’t get it in the UK and a certain someone’s on the front cover. The online pen-pal that misses you, despite you never having met, and just wants to send you some love. The client who, without knowing what’s going on in your life, tells you that she’s been sending you healing vibes through her meditation sessions. 

You are not alone.

From where you are, hanging on the cliff face, you can’t see what’s going on at the summit. You can’t see the five, ten people who are preparing to climb down to get you. You can’t see the twenty, thirty, forty people who are holding the ropes at the top. You can’t see anything because you’re too busy trying not to fall. Trying not to let go. 

But you’re not alone. 

You’re never alone.

…little less difficult now.