Living a frightened life

Today seems appropriate to write a post that I never thought I would write, I may delete it 30 seconds after I’ve published or I maybe not, we shall see!

Most people won’t know that I’ve suffered from depression for most of my adult life, I never talk about this, I never have done really, you probably think I’m just weird or kooky, maybe eccentric, stand-offish, moody or just quiet and awkwardly shy. Some people just don’t like me, I think they think I’m a twat, but they just don’t know me, I guess they may start to see me now.

I hide it well, only the people who’ve been on the frontline would know and that’s not very many. I can normally function by keeping people mostly at a safe distance because it’s easier to let people not understand me, than have to expose what I really am hiding. I exist in the perimeters of most people’s lives, never fully there, not always available, distant, I’m probably very frustrating to most of my friends. I’m not gregarious, I’m awkward and uncomfortable in almost all social situations that involve more than a handful of people I don’t know. I crave routine, despite finding the discipline to stick to it almost impossible. I need to feel secure and acknowledged to be able to function normally but by being so awkward I tend to push people away. When Robin Williams died and everyone “started talking about mental health” it was the worst thing ever for me. I don’t want to talk about it, I don’t want to wear it as a badge of pride, I’m so sorry for myself that this has been my adult life. I’m well at the moment but am always wondering when is it coming back, it will do and I’m constantly aware of that. It truly is a dark shadow hanging over the happy times as well as the sad.

I had my first breakdown when I was 17, my last around 5 years ago, I have attempted to end it, disappeared (mostly only for hours before my return) but I have plotted and planned many escapes to far off places of peace. My parents have never really wanted to talk about it ever since I first attempted “something stupid”, they suggested therapy they didn’t want to medicate me, I guess they just wanted it to go away, they watched me and checked I was OK and slowly I came out the other side, not unscathed but alive. I’ve been mostly well for the past 2.5 years, sometimes drinking can make me sink, I try to drink beer and not wine for this very reason but mostly I’ve been good, a few wobbles but currently life feels great and I feel positive.

I find it difficult to live in a world that is just so horrible whilst being so sensitive myself. I can’t stand to see people being so cruel to one another. The thought that I can never make the world change is unbearable, the fact that it will probably get worse throughout my lifetime is unspeakable. It makes me anxious and anxiety is one of my problems. As I’ve grown older I’m learning to live with the fact that I can’t do or change everything, it’s just not possible. I have to realise that the small things I do, do make a difference. My brain is ticking over all the time, presenting me with images of who I really wish I was, but of course you will never live up to these self imposed, perceived expectations of yourself, you have to be you, there’s no escape.

Thankfully most people will never understand my ill world, a world where you start to look at things differently, to see all the beautiful things around you as a temptation – a river, the view from a window, a cascading waterfall, the seaside, just crossing the road can be a challenge to make it to the other side. To give you an insight, today I’m off to a amazing friends wedding, it’s on the banks of a Loch and I’m going by myself , which triggers my first red warning light. I also don’t know too many people there, but really it should be a great day seeing my friend marry her love. Even though I’m well, I’ve taken precautions. I will be careful with what I drink, some beers, nothing that could push me over the edge. I have made a list for myself and saved as the wallpaper on my phone of reasons to carry on – the fact that I owe my best friend J a curry next week, my daughter and new baby nephew need me for cuddles, I haven’t given Lynne her birthday present yet, work is exciting and I’m enjoying my projects, I haven’t baked a cake in my new oven yet and my school kid mentee is expecting me at 3.10 on the dot to be waiting for him in reception for our weekly meet. Hopefully this will help to keep any silly thoughts at bay, I tend not to do so well at these kind of occasions. I may have to ask someone to babysit me so that I don’t break away from the crowd, and this is me in a period of wellness.

My midlife crisis wasn’t about buying a sports car, it was about what my life could have been if I hadn’t ever had this, hadn’t fucked up nearly every relationship (and some friendships), hadn’t sat at my desk for most of my 20’s (and a lot of my 30’s) using work as an emotional crutch, had taken care of my appearance and my health, hadn’t been so reckless with money and just generally cared for and about myself. I’ve been so¬†negligent of me (and therefore those close to me).

I truly feel sad about what has happened to Scott, he was playing in work the other day, I stopped to watch. I never knew then that he would inspire me to write this piece, to be honest about myself, to do the thing I don’t like to do, to talk about “it”. Although I understand full well what has happened to him, it has scared me. I’m content at the moment, I truly don’t want to die. Sometimes when someone does what he did, it can seem quite inspiring if you are in the wrong place. Robin Williams’ death was quite an accelerant for me, I don’t feel that now, I just feel so dreadfully sad for Scott and his family and friends, the fact that I’ve nearly done the same to mine on many occasions seems distant.

It’s a tough choice – the thought of living in this crazy, mad cruel world under these dark shadows for many years to come, never being normal, alone in a crowded room or divine peace, never to cry again but also never to achieve your potential, which may actually one day include some happiness, acceptance and joy. It’s a tough choice when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, when the world is too much, when you’ve given up on everything including your future. It’s a sad choice and I wish no-one ever had to make that decision between their own life and death in this way, it’s so unfair to have to battle your way through your time on this earth. For now I chose life, I hope I will remember that I’ve made that choice and it indeed continues to be true for many years to come, I really hope you all do too, try to remember the world’s a much better place with you all in it.

Footnote

I’ve never done this myself but I’m going to leave this here as it seems like the responsible thing to do.

In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14.