A year ago today, my best friend died. This isn’t something you expect to say at just 27 years old. You kind of expect to outlive your parents and grandparents, you know it is likely to happen at some point in your life, that’s not to say it’s any less upsetting, but losing your best friend so unexpectedly and at such a young age, nothing can prepare you for it.
When I first heard the news about Amy’s accident, it didn’t feel real. Even today, a whole year after we lost her, it doesn’t feel real. Not only does none of this feel real for me, but the memories I have of Amy also don’t feel real, like they’re from a different life, or an extremely vivid dream. But then I look at where I am now and know my life with Amy was very much real. It really pains me to think about all the things we never got to do together, like go on holiday, share a flight, spend the day at the beach, or bake a cake. There are so many people she never got to meet, like my Nan, my Dad and the Bangarang girls. But then I think about all the amazing things we did do during our short friendship. We went camping, rode on a speedboat down the Thames, attended 20 gigs in just 7 months, including 4 festivals! She got to meet some of my oldest and dearest friends, and my Mum, when she was my +1 to my high school friends blessing, and without Amy I’d never have even met James. So although we weren’t friends for very long, we sure packed in a hell of a lot into those few months!
Amy’s accident left her in a coma for 34 days. These were the longest days I have ever experienced. I lived in such uncertainty. Would she ever wake and recover? If she did ever make it out of the coma, would she ever be the same? What if she didn’t make it? Amy was on the other side of the World but her absolute star of a Mum kept us as informed as possible as to Amy’s condition. She had good days, where it seemed like her body was fighting, but along with the good came the bad. Days where she wasn’t quite responding to the treatments as hoped. The day she died I was obviously hit with the grief and despair that comes with losing someone close, but I also felt a wave of relief. I’d spent 34 days not knowing what would happen. Would we ever see Amy’s big beautiful smile again? It wasn’t the answer we were hoping for, but it was an answer. It was an end to her suffering. She was finally at peace.
2 months after losing Amy I suffered my 1st panic attack, at Berlin airport, all alone. It was the 1st of many. My brain seems to have some sort of filter or screen where I can think and talk about Amy all day without getting upset, but every now and then it hits me. Maybe this is where the panic attacks have come from. I know what has happened and I know that she is gone, but if I think about it too deeply, that’s when it hits, and that’s not very often. It’s not like I’m trying to suppress these feelings, but my brain inadvertently does. When it gets through the barrier, it hits hard. It took me nearly 2 months before I finally went to see the Dr. After a couple of visits I was eventually signed 3 weeks off work, put on 10mg of Citalopram a day, and given a couple of therapy sessions. I only wish I had been to talk to someone earlier as those couple of weeks were so bad I became a bit of a hermit, missing out on lots of gigs and catch-ups with friends. Friends who were all too understanding, never moaning when I cancelled yet again. It’s times like these that your true friends really shine through.
Not only is this week Mental Health Awareness Week, but May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so I’m urging you to seek help if you’re feeling overwhelmed with thoughts and feelings. Talking to someone and saying the words out loud, whether it be to a friend, family member or therapist, can really help. I’m also urging you to offer help to those you fear may be mentally suffering. I never realised just how many of my other friends have experienced panic attacks and anxiety until I opened up and shared what I was going through. It’s very comforting to know you are not alone in how you are feeling and what you are thinking.
Today is also a special day as it is Hats for Headway Day. It’s a bit of a strange cowinkydink that this falls on the 1st anniversary of Amy’s passing as Headway were her family’s chosen charity for the leftover donations from the Go Fund Me page I set up last year. A large amount of Amy’s friends and family have been fundraising lots of money for Headway in her memory through running marathons and organising quiz nights. If you’d like to get involved in Hats for Headway Day it’s easy. You just got to wear a wacky hat, donate £1, or more, and post a photo to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #HatsForHeadway to be entered into their competition. Alternatively you can sponsor me as I’ll be wearing my wackiest hat. Just text HEAD01 £1 TO 70070.