Today, let’s talk support systems and their tragic downfalls.
If you’re really struggling please reach out to a professional for help. There are a few UK numbers and a link to a whole heap of hotlines at the bottom of this post. You don’t have to be alone, you don’t have to handle everything by yourself.
It might seem weird getting upset over the death of a support system if you’ve been independent your entire life. I think my case is vaguely unusual, given that a lot of my childhood was spent alone, or away from my parents at least. I also have no memories of my childhood whatsoever; I think my earliest memory might be from age 9(?) and it’s hazy at best. I’m very used to my own company, and I’m used to figuring things out on my own. I love the freedom that I’ve had, even if it has made me impatient around people who aren’t as self-reliant.
The point is that even though I felt very alone, I had a quiet network of family always there for me to turn to. I also had a pretty snazzy group of friends, some of whom I still consider family. As you get older, that unshakeable support sort of.. dissipates.
It’s nobody’s fault, really, everyone just starts living their own lives. We are innately selfish, so it makes perfect sense that people get lost in their own life pursuits. But, that doesn’t mean that it stops hurting.
This could be entirely foreign to some people, I’m aware of how lucky I have been to have any kind of support system while I was growing up. Also, the other way around, some people may still have a pretty great support system all through their adult lives. But, if you’re feeling like me – lost, and a little angry: like you didn’t sign up to handle this shit alone – keep reading for some things that have helped me out.
Most likely, the people around you will have no idea if you’re feeling isolated so they may not reach out. I know I’m guilty of sitting at home feeling bitter because no-one has realised how I’m feeling. Get over yourself and organise things. People will show up (hopefully) and you’ll have a good time and you’ll remind yourself that family can be many things.
I was feeling kind of down that I was moving 300 miles away and no-one had sort of clocked that I was gonna be gone. Instead of twiddling my thumbs and being sad, I just invited a load of my girls around to have drinks and say goodbye. Create your own memories and tell people what you want to happen. Don’t expect them to be mind-readers.
Simple as that, sit down and really think about who has been amazing in your life. Make a physical list, if you like, I promise you’ll dig yourself a nice little nest of warmth and feel pretty loved even if there’s only one name on there.
For me, this summer, I’ve had a few angels who have kept me sane. My boyfriend, who I am incredibly grateful for, has just been a pillar of sensible suggestions and unrelenting kindness. Every time I have a rant, or I cry hysterically, or I swear I’m gonna kidnap my cats, he just hears me out and offers a solution if I need one. He’s great.
I’m also so, so, lucky that my best friend from school was home this summer. She’s the calm to my crazy, and keeps me much more sane than I should be. She also realised how I was feeling and agreed to come to Glasgow with me on a mini trip. I’m not sure if she realised what she was doing, but she was making my tiny flat feel like home and I’m so grateful.
My mama and her partner have also been all kinds of supportive as well, just calmly accepting me into their warmth and overfeeding me and making me gin. They’re also driving me up to Scotland and staying for a night or two, again, making me feel way more at home.
Finally, my Aunt has been an unsung hero these past few months. I think she appreciates most of all what I’m going through. She’s moved around a lot, excelled in every career path she has taken, travels between three countries for work, lives apart from her husband regularly and somehow still finds time to keep in touch with her family. She has been so kind to me this summer, taking time to ask me how I’m really feeling about the move, inviting me to events, telling me about things that I’d enjoy in Glasgow, and organising to spend time with me when I move.
Thank you, thank you to you all. I don’t take any of you for granted.
They don’t have to be new new, they could be friends you used to be close with but kind of drifted from. Or, find some brand new humans to test the waters with. Obviously don’t dump your baggage on them. Just because you’re feeling down, don’t drag other people into that! Use any opportunities for new friends as a great way to just have fun and watch a new friendship blossom. New friendships can be like new relationships, fun and exciting and full of eating out (at restaurants..). Grab a new pal and just focus on getting to know someone: or, getting to re-know someone.
If everyone is being a bit shit, fuck ’em. Go off and find an amazing park. See that new film. Grab snazzy ingredients and cook yourself an elaborate meal. Draw yourself a bath and grab a glass of wine. Just remember that you’re a pretty cool person and that you don’t need any outside assistance to have fun. Be your own support system.
Try journalling. It might sound twee to some people, but for me it is incredible cathartic to write down how I’m feeling. I’m a big believer in airing grievances – but if that could jeopardise a relationship, just write it down. Write it in big scrawling letters, scribble through it, rip it out, decorate it with washi tape, burn it – doesn’t matter, just try it.
Try your best not to resent the downfall of your support system. For me, it makes sense that as I’m the youngest in the family everyone else is at very different points in their life. My oldest sister has two babies of her own (and more planned), a crazy intense job, a snazzy husband, and also general life to maintain. My middle sister is off living her best life in London, pursuing her career, and trying to navigate the weird world of her twenties. Even my Gran has a crazy busy social life and is always on the brink of another holiday.
Of course, nothing can stay the same as we get older. I’m not a baby any more, my friends have mostly scattered across the UK and beyond, and I’m proud of making my own choices. I’m proud of what I’m doing and where my life plan is (hypothetically) going to take me.
The only thing I won’t stand for is absent people projecting their own ideas and assumptions onto my life. Be absent, that’s cool, but then you don’t get to be angry that you’re no longer a part of my life.
Remember that the death of a support system can be temporary and there are people who can offer professional help if you’re feeling really, really low. I’ve listed a few resources at the bottom if you’re struggling.
If you’re looking for a new, non-professional string in your support system, hit me up, I can totally offer some online support. I love a good rant, and I appreciate hearing other people’s rants.
Helplines for the UK:
03444 775 774 Anxiety UK, 0300 123 3393 Mind, 0800 068 4141 young suicide prevention hotline headed by Papyrus.
This page lists a whole heap of useful numbers and websites: NHS mental health resources.