Thursday. We awake early to catch our train back to Dublin. I’m somewhat sad to be leaving Sligo but I’m also looking forward to getting back home and taking it easy for a while. Sarah’s Mam drives us to the train station and gives us brown bags with sandwiches and sweets. I thank the stars for this glorious woman and her hospitality. We seat ourselves on the train, eating our sandwiches, drinking cups of coffee and playing card games. The journey back seeme a lot quicker than the journey there did. Before I know it, I’m stepping off the train and saying goodbye to the others. Lugging my large bags, (I don’t know the meaning of travelling light) I hop on a Luas followed by a bus. When I arrive home, I sit and have a cup of coffee with my roommates before retreating to my room. Every ounce of my person wants to crawl under my duvet and never come out, but instead I unpack and repack my bag. I get another two buses to the hospital and collapse in a large chair beside my Gran’s bed. Gran takes one look at me and makes a sassy comment about having no sympathy for my exhaustion because I decided to go to the races. She smiles at me, making it clear that she’s joking but I’m delighted to see her sassing me again. There’s a definite spark returned and it’s so nice to see. Mam and I watch TV with her for a while before she falls asleep and we head off for the night. Both exhausted, we go straight to our temporary rooms in my Gran’s house and I am so glad to be in a warm cosy bed that I fall asleep almost immediately.
Friday. Mam and I are up and in the hospital in time for Gran’s lunch. I grab some food and eat with her before I have to jet off to an electrolysis appointment. As I walk down to the lobby, I check the bus times on my phone and see that the bus that I intended to get out, as they so often do with Dublin bus, has disappeared. I have no idea what to do so I turn right around and walk back up to my Gran’s room. My glorious, generous Mam then saves the day and offers to bring me into the appointment. We drive and I get us lost. Finally, I make it and run into the building just on time, something I seem to do at every appointment. I lie down for an hour of getting stabbed with needles and getting electricity shot into my face. No biggie (I’m exaggerating, it’s not that bad). After that, I treat myself to a hot chocolate from my favourite place and get two buses back to the hospital. I hang out with Gran for a few hours watching TV and chatting. I tell her about what’s happening in the media and with different Irish celebrities. Then my Mam spots an ad for Marks and Spencer’s meal deals on Facebook and we immediately decide to get one. We’re a PR person’s wet dream in this moment. After saying goodbye to Gran for the night, we drive out to the nearest Marks and Spencer store and buy two starters, two mains and two desserts. We also throw a bottle of red wine into the basket because we deserve it. When we get home we eat, drink and chat to one another. I fall asleep pretty quick with a full stomach and a sparkly head (from the wine).
Saturday. My Mam and I get up and drive into the hospital. After spending a few hours there, I decide to go home. I lug my huge bag and get the two buses back to my house. When I get through my front door I could cry with relief. I go straight to my room where I spend the evening watching TV on my laptop, reading, organising my room and just relishing being in my own space. My roommates arrive back late and I go out to them with a bottle of wine in my hand. We sit around, drink and chat well into the night. I go to bed extremely satisfied with the day that I’ve had.
Sunday. I have an extremely long lie-in and wake up in an amazing mood. I sit down at my desk and spend four hours non-stop working. I enjoy my work so much and it feels so good to actually be able to dedicate so much time to it for the first time in ages. I spend the rest of the day organising my room, cleaning my apartment and getting ready for the week ahead. In the evening I catch up on all of the TV programmes that I’ve fallen so behind on and I go to bed feeling normal again.
* * *
The weeks were hectic and I found myself feeling very grateful for the small things. The chats with my Grandmother about various different things. The journeys on public transport where I could find a few minutes to myself to read a few chapters of my book or scribble ideas into my notebook. The lunches with my friends where we talk shit and laugh over nice food.
It was definitely a challenge to keep myself intact over this period of time. Looking back on it, I have no idea how I managed to do it. But I’m extremely proud of how I handled myself through this period of intense pressure and hardship.
Honestly, a lot of the things I did weren’t extremely necessary. I didn’t have to constantly meet friends or take a trip up to the races. I didn’t have to have big birthday celebrations. I could have fallen behind on my website and everyone would have forgiven me. But I know that that’s not the kind of person I am. Someone who lets a challenge defeat me. Someone who sacrifices their social life and work because they’re tired or upset.
But I also recognise that this was because I have spent so long prioritising my mental health. I knew my brain so well that I was able to overcome all of these challenges. I was in such a good state of mind that I didn’t need to make sacrifices. Not everyone is going to have that. And that’s okay. But these weeks really helped me to appreciate all the work that I’ve put into keeping my mental health intact.