Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Will the butterflies come today?

Gareth's been feeling better for the first time in 4 months. Unfortunately his period of wellness started right before the worst day of the year. Every year for the last 9 years I've been on eggshells on July 17th. Gareth's mum, Ruby, passed away on July 17th 1999. He was 21, he was her baby (the youngest of 11 children), and he's never recovered from it. It was the trigger for his descent into the mental health system. Two years later in 2001 Gareth would take his first, and most serious, overdose on July 17th. He was in the army at the time, his dream job, a musician in the Band of the Parachute Regiment, due to take a place in the Coldstream Guards band. His life was a whirl of parties, girls, drinking, lads nights, holidays, playing his clarinet and getting very well paid to do so.

After that initial overdose he was sent to the army psychiatric ward and eventually discharged with "Adjustment Disorder". It was in this ward that he met his friend Simon who I will talk more about another time. After his discharge, in true bipolar style, he blew all his money very quickly, drank a lot, self harmed a lot... and somewhere in that mess he met me.

Over the years there's been various incidents on July 17th. This year Gareth says he feels like its the first year since Ruby died. I think its the first year he's ever let himself feel any grief without the anaesthetic of alcohol or self harm. He's angry, he's distraught, he's confused, he's displaying symptoms of psychosis - his "friends" Brad and Edward have come for a visit (only Gareth can see them) - of our two dogs, Rupy and Hen - he couldn't tell which was which.

But later we are going to plant something in remembrance of Ruby. A buddleja named Ruby. Buddleja's are also called butterfly bushes because they are renowned for attracting butterflies. Sadly this year there's not been so many butterflies as the weather is stripping many flowers of its pollen. Plants like the buddleja though are structured differently, the pollen can be found deeper within the flower and its harder for the wind to blow it away so they're really important to the future of the butterfly.

Since we've had our buddleja we've not seen any butterflies, until last night. Gareth went into the garden to find ten feathers on the grass and a butterfly hovering around the buddleja. Tonight we are moving Ruby from the pot she came in to a larger pot she will call home. If Ruby is out there anywhere I would ask that she send us some butterflies today in remembrance and hopefully Gareth can start to look forward and learn to live with this particular pain.

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