My Battles

My 2019

Introduction

don’t know where to even begin… Like everything in life there is no such thing as certainty. There is no certainty you will always be happy, there is no certainty you will achieve everything you wanted to and there is no certainty that tomorrow will ever come.

Many people take a life for granted and never see the bigger picture. Everything I wrote in the first paragraph will hopefully give you a quick insight into my 2019. A year full of loss, new beginnings and enlightenment.

Growing Up

In 2019, I would like to say I achieved targets I never thought I would reach. From a young age I suffered from sensory sensitivity which relates to my eating disorder, meaning I am very picky in terms of tasting food and anxious to try new things. This also affected my growth as an individual too, as I became too anxious to join new sports teams, friendship groups or even learn basic tasks such as how to tie my shoelaces.

Suffering from these difficulties also affected my development, meaning I was behind school expectations which correlated towards my GCSE mock results where I failed in every subject. I remember some nights where I would just cry to myself knowing I was not good enough and never will be good enough. Although that all changed in 2019.

Studying Journalism at the University of Derby will forever be the best decision I ever made. This is where I truly felt like I belonged. I made friends for life and had the most supportive lecturers and amazing professional help during my studies from the advice and student wellbeing team. Finishing my studies in 2019, I became the first person in my family to graduate from University, gaining a 2:1 diploma in Journalism and finally showed myself that I can do it!

Yet an even bigger surprise occurred In September 2019 where I took my first step into teaching. Returning to a secondary school as a Teacher Assistant at Etone College where my aim was to then join the SKITT programme the following year to become an English teacher. Although my stint was cut short due to bereavement, I thoroughly enjoyed every moment. This is where I grown up, I was referred to as ‘Sir’ and helped kids suffering with anxiousness and disorders similar to what I suffered with during my studies. It was truly an incredible experience and I will forever be grateful to Etone for giving me that chance and being so helpful and understanding throughout my time there.

Loss

Only people who have lost somebody really knows the pain and the heartbreak that you truly endure when somebody passes away. Sadly, I felt this way twice this year. Losing my grandad in August and my best friend in October. Feeling completely powerless and a ghost as to who you once were, you just wish you could have done more, shared more memories or to have one more conversation.

Unlike others, I handle my grief in a more positive way. Instead of mourning, I choose to shine a spotlight on all the happy memories that we shared together and be grateful that I was so lucky to have experienced such joy. Although sometimes I do cry, I begin to just reflect on all the happy times, all the laughs and all the memories that made our relationship so special. Make the most of your life, you never know what day will be your last. Take every chance, achieve what you thought you couldn’t, let everybody around you know how much they mean to you because one day you won’t be able to.

Jessica was my best friend who passed away on the 14th October 2019 I was lucky to have spent her final week together with me inside my home in Birmingham where we got to experience one final night out travelling to Sheffield. This is where I was able to say my final goodbyes at the train station the next day. Once arriving home in Newcastle Jessica passed away in her sleep 24 hours later.

Even though there was no signs of illness or severe pains, Jessica was suffering with Meningococcal Meningitis and Septicaemia. This suddenly became fatal and Jessica passed away in her sleep. Below is a slideshow of some of the memories we shared with Jessica.

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Such a tragedy encouraged me and my good friend Rosie to start up a GoFundMe page which can be viewed here – Jessica’s GoFundMe page to help Jessica’s family raise money towards her headstone. This was because no family could ever prepare emotionally and financially for such a loss. Raising a staggering £2,370 for the family, Jessica’s story reached the press and made the front cover of the Derby Telegraph and the Newcastle Chronicle. Not only making local news, Jessica also went national and global. Featuring in The Sun and the Daily Mail. Alongside this there were articles written in the following countries: AustraliaChina and Sri Lanka.

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Jessica in the Newcastle Chronicle

Sadly, no matter how much we raised for Jessica, it was impossible to make it any easier for the family of Jessica during this time, as we will never repair the loss of such a treasured and loved person. All we can do is hope that Jessica’s story can help other families who might experience a tragedy similar to this. If anything, it has taught me to make sure you enjoy every moment you share with loved ones. Boyfriends/girlfriends or family, strangers or best mates, no matter how you meet or what you did, enjoy every moment because it might be last time you share together.

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Conclusion

I reflect upon my 2019 in hindsight knowing it brought many happy moments and memorable occasions. Graduating from University, exploring the country, meeting my boyfriend, working as a teacher in a secondary school, retuning to my own school as a journalist and turning 21 just to name a few. Despite the troubles I endured during this year, I will go into 2020 the happiest I have been regarding my mental health and my wellbeing. I am lucky enough to be constantly supported by loved ones, having an amazing trust circle of friends who continue to help me whenever I feel alone, isolated or depressed. If you ever feel like you have nobody to turn to or anybody who can help you please just remember, you are not going through this alone, we all have our down days and nobody is perfect, but remember there is no certainty in life.

Certainty is a key word I have said since the beginning of this article, for one reason and that’s because if you are feeling depressed and alone today there is no certainty you will feel the same tomorrow. If you feel like you will never be happy again, there is no certainty that somebody new could come into your life and turn it all round and show you that the best days are yet to come. This is only the beginning. Please just remember everything gets easier with time and never give up. I reflect upon my 2019 as I could have given up or grown up and I’m glad to have chosen the latter. Please never give up, even when you feel like everything has been taken from you and you have hit rock bottom, just look back, reflect and realise why you are here and what you want to achieve. Life is short so make the most of every second.

Although my 2019 was not perfect, it shaped me into a person I am proud of. I achieved all the targets I only dreamed of and made memories I never thought would be possible. I went to my first gay pride this year and loved it, I travelled around the country for the first time and it was an amazing adventure. I graduated from University and got my first graduate job. Achieving all of this wouldn’t have been possible without the love and support I have been given this year from all people close to my heart. Which brings me onto my final two sentences. Each paragraph begins with a certain letter to make an acronym, my biggest supporter of all, my best friend. I hope I have made you proud, ‘I miss you Jessica’. x

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4 comments

  1. You are one of a kind Aaron, Jess would be so proud of you and how strong a person you are. This year has been so tough on you but you’ve powered through and I am super proud to see you be strong. I love you lots, lets smash this year xx

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