So, I’ve alluded to it and I’ve talked around it. It formed part of a previous blog (Story Of My Life (Part One) – The Downward Spiral) but I’ve never really talked about it properly.
In my late teens I made a concerted effort to remove myself from life. I’d pretty much had a breakdown whilst at sixth form. A mix of being emotionally undeveloped to deal with the stress I was going through and, well, the actual stress I was going through. I was a mess mentally, emotionally and physically. I was thin and pale. I kept odd hours. I was chastising myself for not revising as much as I could and felt like I was letting myself down.
My exams came and went with spectacular failure, no passes. I decided to go to college, hoping to embrace an artier, more creative aspect of me that was starting to grow inside me. I’d been encouraged to write by my English Literature teacher and my ex-girlfriend’s mam. I felt like it was a way for me to express myself, to channel some of the inner noise out of me so it wasn’t cluttering up my brain.
I’d been to see a doctor a few times in the past. I knew something was wrong with me, that something wasn’t right with me. I couldn’t say I was a happy kid. I hated social occasions. I much preferred my own company.
The mid eighties was a terrible time for mental health diagnosis and support. I was just told that it was my age by the doctor. Hormones. I was just being a teenager. I’d grow out of it. That was the kicker.
I was brushed aside quicker than something that’s brushed aside pretty quick. If I couldn’t control this Dog inside of me so I’d try to control whatever I could. I wouldn’t say I had an eating disorder but it was pretty damn close to one. I’d develop weird sleep patterns. I’d punch walls until I could feel my knuckles crack in an attempt to make whatever fucked up feelings I had inside of me real. I was starting to bottom out.
There was a real feeling of disconnection in me. I felt like I was switching off from everything and everyone. It felt like I was becoming more and more of an impression of myself. Seeing my reflection would only enforce my decision to withdraw even more.
A cheating girlfriend who dumped me would be my tipping point. It wasn’t that I was angry or wanted revenge. To me or was almost like the last spark of humanity was snuffed out and I became numb.
I can’t remember quite a bit from then. I can’t really remember taking the tablets. A lot of what I can remember is mixed up with delirium. I was out of it. Every now and again I get snatches of memories and that’s pretty much it. I know it did involve a hospital trip and a lot of vomiting. It certainly wasn’t a glossy Hollywood attempt.
My overdose wasn’t predetermined. I didn’t think any of it through. All I knew is that deep down inside I felt nothingness. I didn’t want to exist anymore. I’ve mentioned before that it wasn’t a case of wanting to kill myself. I just wanted to stop. Stop breathing. Stop being. Stop existing.
My mental issues had become too much. They’d sucked all the joy and colour from my life. I walked around as a shell, hopefully fooling enough people to think I was a normal person, not this emotionless husk. It was a 24/7 task, always switched on aand so tiring. Although it felt I did manage to create enough of a facade to disguise what was going on inside the one person I couldn’t fool was me.
It took me a while to improve after the overdose, a long while. In fact I’d probably say that I’m still a work in progress with that. I would say get better but that suggests some kind of cure. There’s no cure for depression. There’s no cure for feeling the way we do. All we can do is fight it the best we can. I learned to open up and talk. I learned to express myself. I learned that I could live with the darker, more self destructive parts of my nature, that I could exist with it.
I can look back on it now, some twenty years later. I don’t feel the sting of it nowhere near as much as I used to. It’s almost like I’ve come to a sense of acceptance with it. I still feel incredible guilt with what I put my family and friends through. Don’t mistake my writing about it in this way as me being proud of it, I’m not. It’s more like embarrassment. Thankfully I feel a sense of objectivity with it, something that’s come with the distance of time. Part of me is always worried that I could go back to that state of numbness where things like that could happen. When I feel things start to slip away I try to reach for them to make sure I stop myself. I try to remind myself that the darkness lies to me and to us all. I like being here, I like being with the people I have in my life, and no matter what being here is the best course of action.
And I intend on being here for quite some time to come.