I recently stumbled upon a quote, “The best thing about the worst time of your life is that you get to see the true colours of everyone.”
How true this is.
Up until the start of my demise at the beginning of 2018, I’d worked in a primary school, with children who had special educational needs and disabilities. At times it was extremely challenging, but that’s what I enjoyed about my role.
I had a great team around me too. I considered them friends as well as colleagues, I would always go out of my way to support them, and thought that they would do the same for me.
The earliest signs that something was wrong with my health was chronic fatigue and joint pain.
There were a couple of occasions when I’d forgotten where I’d parked my car. In fact one day, I could even remember what car I drove. I remembered it was silver. I laughed it off, and put it down to being tired at the end of the year, always a busy time with Christmas performances. I’d had the Christmas rush on at the studio too.
My joint pain became so bad I could barely grasp the steering wheel to drive to school. I wore shoes with memory foam insoles because my feet felt like I was walking on broken glass. I would arrive in tears.
One particular day, I was asked what was wrong by a colleague. I explained that the pain in my hands was excruciating. At this point I was trying to hide my tears from children that were nearby. My concerned colleague proceeded to hand my a large pile of worksheets and ask me to trim them down with the paper trimmer. No need for me to use my hands doing that task, was there?
I was, and still am stunned, that having explained how painful my hands were, I was given a task that involved using them, with my bodyweight behind them too. I can categorically say, this was the point at which I thought my health was worth far more than this.
A few days later, having been signed off work by my GP, I resigned my position. I didn’t care about having no money. I just wanted to get myself well again, and find out what was wrong with me.
From that point, other people’s behaviour also began to change.
Another lady, whom I looked up to and had great respect for, as she had achieved great things within her role, and also as outside of work, began to completely ignore me. Now, I don’t mean it was a case of not seeing me. She completely blanked me. The first time this happened, I thought perhaps it was me, but then when it happened on subsequent occasions I was shocked.
I still am shocked, and upset too, that people I worked closely with, who I had looked up to and respected for over ten years, could just ignore me.
Thankfully, other people also showed their true colours. My friends Di and Sahra from school have been amazing and I am forever grateful for the help and support they have given, and continue to give me.
Di would be my driver when I could no longer see properly, and she would help to hold me upright whilst we were out, as I walked as though I was completely inebriated due to the effects of the tumour on my brainstem and balance nerve. She even came and sat through not particularly pleasant medical procedures when Neil couldn’t come with me.
Sahra helped me fill in forms, called or messaged me daily, baked cakes, and even offered to cook meals for my family whilst I was in hospital. They have both been angels and I’m blessed to have them as friends.
I guess in some ways it’s good to have a clearout of your life. Cutting ties with those who only look after their own interests can’t be a bad thing, and I’ve been surprised by those who have stepped in to fill the voids that were left.
I’ve found it frustrating that when you’re at death’s door, everyone wants to come and visit, yet once the physical scars heal, the hair grows back and you look seemingly normal, the calls and the visits stop.
I have spent hours trying to rationalise people’s behaviour and actions, or inaction. Am I somehow not worthy of their friendship? Maybe they don’t want friends that are physically broken or weak?
To be honest, just writing this post has upset and frustrated me. And yet now I have come to realise how precious time is, I’m annoyed with myself for giving my time to thinking about these people.
However, I am forever grateful for those who choose to remain in my life, true friends and not just there for the good times.
I’m currently working on my next writing project, How We Rise, but I need your support. You can find out more here.