In the waking hours since trying to get to the big sleep, I’ve been overwhelmed by many emotions, including fear; that my writings that fill these pages will be met with compassion fatigue. But writing is all I do, it’s all I can do, and I tell myself that if someone somewhere reads these words and it moves them, or even makes them think twice, then they’re worth exploring, worth saying, and worth the risk of tiring people out with their pessimistic gloom.
So with emphasis on the positive, the sheer number of responses to my existential crisis and their heartfelt message has deeply moved me. Words of encouragement, reassurance and beauty the likes of which I could only dream of penning and for which I can only give thanks, and say that they are truly, truly welcome – they are missives of all-weather friendships and love that make me realise just how many people truly care, and remind me that there is a phoenix of hope lurking somewhere amid the flames of anger, poverty, worthlessness and despair, the fires of jobless hell where the devil puts in overtime.
However, and this is an emotion I’m struggling to come to terms with or even describe, I can’t help feeling discomfiture and guilt. For instance, if I were totally alone in my depression, if I had not a single loved-one, family member or friend, then the dramatic starkness of what I did in trying to take my own life would affect (apart of course from the person/people who found me) only one person… me. But a person like me who is lucky enough to be surrounded by many carers and genuine well-wishers, knows his death would cause wider-spread grief and devastation. So when these guardian angels come from corners of this world to see him, he feels bad about their being inconvenienced. It isn’t actually the case, they call or come out of love, their crusade is not inconvenience, but it’s just how he feels, because his illness is like that, it wants to eat into his mind and make him think only darkly, negatively, destructively.
So for me, these past few days have fetched a cocktail of emotions, most of them positive, a few of them negative and (only slightly) paranoid. Among the many calls there have been a couple of withheld numbers, which I’ve answered and heard nothing. There’s definitely been someone at the other end, but after a few seconds of this nothingness, the caller has hung up. I confess this made me wonder, and while paranoia tried to seep its way into my confused mind, convince me this was someone knitting at the guillotine, I managed to keep the paranoia at bay, preferring to think the caller either just wanted to hear my voice to know I was OK, or couldn’t bring himself to speak for fear of saying the wrong thing.
I get that, I really do. But sometimes tough love and harsh words are entirely appropriate, like when my son arrived and said in his wonderfully demotic way, “Give me a hug you fucking knob-head.” Anyway, I’ve talked at length to my lovely kids, trying with Herculean effort to convey how all this feels. Long speeches that’ve made my mouth and lips sandbanks, that’ve made my eyes rivers, that have even made me laugh with that same gallows humour that carried me through the day I fixed my leather belts together and hung myself. Long speeches followed by silence, not the silence of the uncaring, the silence of ones who don’t really know what to say. Yet they need say nothing, because I don’t expect anything. I can’t expect anything because they’ve already given everything. And everything they’ve given has been wonderful, encouraging, supportive, affording me the determination to try and seek something optimistic from all this gloom…
And so what can I do? Write. Keep writing. Keep writing about this, block out the disclaimers mentioned above. Because I should no longer care about compassion fatigue, no longer feel self-conscious of these words becoming repetitive, portentous of gloom, foretelling death. I should continue to record the wanderings of my mind on here, I will attempt to do so with condiment of levity for those who need or appreciate it, and I will hope it’ll do me some good. Moreover, if my words, written or spoken, can do someone else, just one person, some good too, if they can make him sit up and take notice, or if they could resonate with he who faces a similar struggle and make him see that things are not as dark as they seem, then I’m minded to say that I’m a happy man.
To finish, for now, I reiterate my heartfelt thanks to all of those who’ve been so genuinely kind, unfailing and loving during my darkest waking hours. You know who you are and you know what you’ve done.
To hear me speak about this, and want to help, email me for details. Or make a small donation to a mental health charity. They, like me, need you.