My sister’s death should have broken me, but instead it taught me not to hold back

No matter what you are faced with, life is a psychological battle you can win

Life has it’s ups and downs. Everyone faces a difficult path once or twice. After dropping out of university in 2014 and overcoming my battle with social anxiety and depression I thought I had accomplished more than the average student. But this was just the unveiling of a journey I was unprepared for. Like many other students in the world, battling mental health and trying to maintain a healthy attitude is a norm. As expected this was not easy but from the moment I stepped foot in Liverpool, I knew this was the beginning of the best three years of my life.

Enjoying the sociable buzz and non-stop nightlife of the city. Three days until the Christmas break, 10 days until Christmas day. All deadlines completed and the festivities had begun. What more could a student want? One phone call, everything changes. It was from this moment that I realised how precious, temperamental and short life can be. How one moment you are on cloud nine and the next it gets taken away.

Hearing the news that your sisters have been in an accident is not something you would ever consider. Life is susceptible to change, yet we are so naive until it happens to us. After the past year I was not expecting this to be my most challenging experience yet.

‘My sister, Alex, enjoying her high school prom, after her GCSEs’

Seven days until Christmas day and I was told my younger sister had passed away. Having been on life support for three days it was time to say goodbye to my daring, lovable and courageous sister, Alexandra (yet if you were to call her anything other than Alex, she would ignore you until you changed).

She was looked after and cared for in The Walton Centre, an outstanding neurological centre in the North West of England. It never occurs to you how inspiring medical teams are until you have witnessed their strength and support first hand. I will never look at our health system in the same way again, forever appreciating their hard work. From the second I left my sister’s bed, I made a promise that I would seize every opportunity that Alex would miss. This was a moment I will never forget.

Life is there as a challenge not to scare us but to make us stronger, wiser and happier. These words are what I remind myself every day. It is important to remember that without bad moments we would not appreciate the good ones. Some people will go through their life without experiencing the death of their sibling, still this is not to say that their troubles are any less relevant than my own.

Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. If you look around the room or load Instagram and browse through hundreds of photos, effortlessly edited, picture perfect, everyone smiling, it is likely that they too sit at home and worry about the same things you do. Or perhaps struggle with the same issues you do. It is because we do not let the public see the raw, uncut versions of our self that we feel isolated when it comes to talking about our mentality or problems.

The Three Peaks. Raising £18,000 for the Walton Centre. Myself and Jonny (Alex’s boyfriend)

For many students, life is a constant battle. It is normal to second guess or to doubt yourself. This is something I forever did. However it was when I accepted that having moments of weakness or discomfort was completely human that I did not feel so alone. I still have to remind myself that this is my own journey and should not be compared with anyone else. Of course I had to re-sit exams, and cancelling summer plans in order to revise for them wasn’t at all fun. However nothing is ever set in stone and neither were my exam grades.

If I could get through to second year, it would open up more opportunities and more doors. We are forever comparing ourselves and trying to live up to everyone else’s expectations, but this is something I have tried to stop doing. My friends may have passed the year, I may have failed. There is nothing to say that they were in a better position than I was. I was still adapting to a life without my sister and I was proud of how far I had come. I still had the ability to carry on and I was grateful for the opportunities that lay ahead.

No matter what you are faced with, life is a psychological battle you can win. No one will go through life without a fight. You have to take each day as it comes and don’t look too far ahead. You can’t predict your future so why try? You are doing the best you can, give yourself some credit. You will never be the person sat across from you and they too will never be you. It is inevitable that we will continue to compare ourselves as we always want to improve.

Yet in a moment of doubt remind yourself that you have come this far so why can’t you continue? We all have our own achievements and we should all be proud of where we are. “In every can’t there lies a can.” Sometimes all it takes is a little self belief.

Because she always knew how to have fun

I will forever be grateful for the support I have received from friends, family and the community. You have all helped me through this unbelievably challenging year. Any donations that were made to the Walton Centre will continue to help provide exceptional care for families just like mine. Thank you.