Why Didn’t I? How Haven’t I Still?

1994.  I’m 17 and I’m in my bedroom in a house in Dagenham, Essex, where I live with my folks and younger brother.  The room is black.  I think the only thing that isn’t black is the skirting board; Mum insisted that I could have whatever colour I wanted in the room, but those skirting boards had to be white.  I guess it was cool that I was given freedom of expression, despite the single, parental stipulation; but I accepted the terms and proceeded to choose black furniture, black curtains, black bed covers, a speckled mix of black and grey wallpaper.  Posters?  Kurt Cobain, Pearl Jam, Morrissey/The Smiths, Soundgarden. Yes, I was into that whole Seattle grunge thing.  I had previously discarded my divan and the mattress, now on the floor, was what I attempted sleep on every night.  The scruffy sheets of an unmade bed,  scrunched and bunched up from a fidgety night’s restlessness, are the untidiest parts of this room and will remain that way today.  Despite my sullen mentality, everything else is in order, just how I want it.

I’m cross-legged on the corner of the mattress at the foot of the bed.  I’m wearing blue jeans, black and white base-ball boots (a la KC), a white T-shirt and my absolute favourite oversized, grey, woolly, big buttoned cardy – super grunge!  It’s 9am and I have nowhere to be.  It’s the 6wks summer holiday, between completion of my first year of A-Levels and the return year at my Comprehensive, but I have no intention of going back.  I’ve already drunk one can of Diamond White and I’m halfway through my second.  The can is in my right hand, my left hand is full of paracetamol; I have been saving them in a small tin for a while.  All that needs to happen now is to put the pills in my mouth and wash them down with the rest of the booze.  My suicide note is written and is laying on the floor next to the pill tin.  The house is empty apart from my brother who is fast asleep in his room, my parents have gone to work.  I don’t know how long I sat staring at those pills in my hand, but eventually I put them back in the tin, hid the note and, somewhat catatonic, left the house.

I had no idea where I was going or what I was going to do when I got there; I just left.  And walked.  I understood very well what I wanted to do.  I wanted to not be alive anymore.  I wanted that feeling to go.  I wanted the emotional pain to go.  I wanted the sadness to go.  I wanted the inadequacy to go. I wanted the self-hatred to go.  I wanted the pointlessness of life to go.  I wanted to go back to wherever I came from; a place I felt I had been extracted from so that I could begin developing in Mum’s womb; like something that had been missing all my life and I wanted to find it again.  But it didn’t exist in this life.  So it must be somewhere else, somewhere ethereal, other dimensional, unearthly, heavenly….anywhere! Just somewhere that wasn’t here.

I walked to the end of the road and turned right onto Central Park Avenue.  My Nan lived round the corner to us.  As I approached the turning to her road, expecting just to carry on past (without looking down towards her house as I would normally have done) there she was.  At that exact moment!  We literally bumped into eachother on the corner.  We hadn’t seen eachother coming as the house on that corner had a 6ft brick wall for a fence.  I was stunned out of my reverie, happy to see her, and continued on with her.  We walked down the (Oxlow) Lane and she ran her errands with me in tow; then we walked back to her house and I spent the rest of the day with her, playing cards, eating goodies, watching videos – without mention of what had happened at home earlier that morning.  A surreal day if ever there was one.

Sometime later that summer I wrote my Mum a letter detailing my mood and wanting help for my suicidal ideologies.  The outcome of this letter wasn’t favourable.  Fortunately for her she had no comprehension of depression, she’d never experienced it – but that doesn’t help a teenage girl with manic depression and a desire to end her life, looking to her Mum for answers.  Ultimately I was alone to face it all head on, to deal with it with zero input from anyone else and I vowed (at that time) to never tell Mum anything so personal again.   My folks hadn’t been too impressed with me a few weeks/months earlier when I destroyed as many photos as I possibly could that had me in them; ones from early childhood up ’til that time.  In my disturbed mind I wanted to eradicate myself from existence, so that when I died there would be no trace left of me; like I had never happened.  Obviously this wasn’t logical; there were many others with photos of me, let alone memories of me, but I didn’t equate that at the time.  I was in a weird place, not of sound mind, and yet I knew I wanted to die.  The problem is, I didn’t go through with it.

2017.  I’m now 40.  I’m in a house that I rent alone and I’m writing about suicide.  (Is that worrying?!!)  Truth is, I just watched a film about Kurt Cobain and it took me right back.  He killed himself in 1994 and it hit me hard back then because I understood it.  That need to die, the ‘no choice’ of it all, the tragedy, the inevitability.  I felt the same way.  I felt like there was no other course, no other way forward that was gonna make any sense; to end it all made the most sense to me.  To this day, I don’t know how I am still alive.  I don’t know why I didn’t go through with it.  Actually, no, I do know why – I had too much of a conscience.  As much as I didn’t want to live, I felt I didn’t have the right to take a life that my parents had lovingly given to me.  I understood the devastation that a suicide can have on those left behind.  I hadn’t experienced it first hand, I’ve just always been an understanding and deeply compassionate person….how could I devastate my family like that?  So I suffered with a life I didn’t want, a life I resented, a life I wished away every night before I’d fall asleep.

I don’t suffer from depression anymore and haven’t for a number of years – but that is because I actively chose to not give it any power.  I do believe in experiencing a negative emotion, as it is character building, but not for any great length of time.  Acknowledge it, address it, resolve it – don’t ever hand it your control; but depression isn’t the only reason to commit suicide.  Genuinely, and I can say this because it comes easily to me and without deep negative emotion, I have thought most of my life that I will end my days by my own hand.  I guess it wouldn’t come as a surprise to me if I went down that road one day.  I know that most people won’t understand that way of thinking and immediately want me sectioned before I do myself harm, but it’s not like that!  You’re just gonna have to take my word for that.  It’s more to do with circumstance and a right to do with your life whatsoever you wish.  This isn’t about depression or sadness, this is about pure choice.

I live a good life these days.  I have taken many steps to rectify my own suffering over the years and I am far happier now than I have ever been, but that doesn’t mean to say I passionately love life in general.  I’ve never been able to say that.  Life, as amazing and beautiful as it can be, is still phenomenally exhausting at times.  Whether it’s confrontations you could do without, a plan not coming to fruition, the acceptance of disappointment that what you hoped from life isn’t coming your way, the incessant change of feelings, the unknown, the unfulfilled dreams, the fulfilled dreams and what may come next, and the constant sacrifices, there is the fundamental question at the base of it all….what is the bloody point??!!  Sometimes, for me, the sheer boredom from my relentless singledom is enough to make me question it all when life goes off kilter.  It can be all you need just to have that one person to come home to, to call when shite hits the fan, to be cuddled when tears fill your eyes, to be surprised by when everything else takes on a dullness.  When you don’t have that, year after year after year….man, that gets old real fast.  Although it is said that great things come from dark times, or bored times, to endure those times…well if you could see me I’m simply shaking my head, giving a sigh of incredulity and not finding enough words to put into perspective, for you, just how many times I’ve found myself in this insecure awkwardness of personal transition.  Looking into the future, what if I don’t find those things I yearn for?  What if I continue to find myself in this position where I am uncertain of what is coming and still alone with that uncertainty?  It’s not far from my imagination that I could just go, ‘ah fuck it, let’s clock out now….I’m done with this.’  As tragic and blah blah blah as it may be, sometimes it really does make so much sense to me.  I don’t think that suicide is a cop out.  I think it’s a legitimate life choice.  Well, death choice.  For the terminally ill, the suddenly incapacitated, the chronically depressed or the dispassionately bored, I get it.  And I have such empathy for it.

If I was to be told, right now, that this is all my life will ever be, with no great love to befall me; a life lived as alone as it ever was….I’d be punching that card, with love in my heart and an acknowledging smile on my face, and without any regret.  So I guess, curiosity and hope is what is keeping me alive now, despite the intermittent tedium.

JG 13.07.17

 

Advertisements

Losing Faith

To have faith (not necessarily religious) is to have hope; to lose faith means all hope is gone. It’s understandable, therefore, why, ‘Keep the faith,’ resonates across the globe; but what if faith lets us down? What if we wait so long for something we believe in that we end up growing wearisome and abandon our hope? Life, in that instant, becomes entirely meaningless; depression will ensue and in the most extreme cases, where no light is found, suicide. It seems simple, given the drastic nature of such a demise, that the best option is, indeed, to keep the faith; yet in my experience, doing so is exhausting; sometimes the faith just slides away; a situation I have found myself in recently.

I have long believed that my soulmate is out there, that my perfect version of love exists and that I am yet to find her. As a woman who will not settle for less, I am resigned to being single until the big one reels in. I have also believed that my maternal Nan, who passed away five years ago, has been with me ever since, in spirit, and I have felt her presence from time to time, consciously as well as subconsciously, in my dreams. A paternal Uncle has visited me at key times, also within my dreams. These experiences had been too significant to simply be random sleepy imaginations.

Recently a decision to accept an invitation to Paris in June, became the catalyst for the shattering of my belief system. I have refused many previous nonchalant invitations by acquaintances because, for me, Paris is too romantic to see with anyone other than a soulmate, lover, partner. This time, when asked by friends, I figured, why not? Why wait any longer? If I never meet ‘the one’ I’ll never go; and in that simple decision to take a trip to Paris, I lost my faith. Slowly, my self-awareness crumbled, parts of my psyche packed up and wandered off in varying directions, leaving me lost and unsure of my existence. There are, of course, a chain of circumstances that lead up to such a malfunction, but there’s always a snapping point, thus Paris.

I have taken time out of my long term contract to attempt to re-evaluate myself, my life; to have a break from people and all external noise, so that I might hear myself again. There was no need to run abroad to a beach or go back-packing in search of finding oneself; the truth is we find ourselves within ourselves and our physical beings can be anywhere for that to happen. Instead I have stayed around familiar settings, the comfort of my home and my family (and a few caring friends in between who have kindly been to see me, or messaged to check up on how I’m feeling.). Yet, even the high of visiting family up North dissipated within a few hours of being back in my own home. The incessant aloneness is unbearable at times and I soon found myself floundering in the well of faithless gloom once more.

Despite having a fairly sociable week, my mood hadn’t altered. With my energy levels bordering on low to non existent I kept a promise to visit a friend and her partner last weekend in Salisbury. I don’t really know how this happened…but when asked what I’d like to do I promptly responded, “Glasto.” She’s always telling me how lovely a place it is, so it was the first thing I thought of. She’s been to see a Medium before in the town, so she must’ve asked if I wanted to see her, and I must’ve said yes, because before I knew it she’d booked me an appointment for the day I arrived. No sooner had she collected me from the train station we were on our way to Glastonbury; she dropped me at the shop with only a couple of minutes to spare before my appointment commenced, while she went off in search of a parking space.

I had no expectations of the meeting and I was completely unprepared for it, emotionally. Though I believe in mediumship and clairvoyancy, my untrusting nature means I am always sceptical of the individual claiming to have the gift. As with all people I encounter, I look for trust before I accept them. This particular woman was either totally legitimate, or excellent at reading body language and facial expressions. She accurately described me; divulged details of what I am seeking/feeling and advised that my Nan was indeed with me and watching me at all times. Some of what she communicated didn’t make sense to me, but a great deal did. I left the meeting quite shell shocked but, most assuredly, changed.

There is no way of truly knowing if my Nan was my by side in that session, or whether I was played to the tune of £35 and 30 minutes of my day; but I immediately realised that it didn’t matter either way. We all have an abundance of choices at our fingertips, every second of every day. In that moment I had the choice to believe or disbelieve. The messages and encouragement I received were entirely positive and exactly what I needed. To draw me out of my funk I needed something powerful, something from beyond the grave. I needed my Nan. What I heard was the door to faith reopening. I felt empowered.

From the moment I stepped out of that mystical shop, (which is basically like every other shop on the high street…..in fact the entire street permeates joss sticks and sounds the clanging of a million wind chimes; with the occasional vegan café thrown in in-between), I felt better than I had done in weeks. My belief system had begun to rebuild; the soulmate, the future, the possibilities, all started to filter back into my being and my eyes re-opened. Choosing to disbelieve the experience wasn’t really an option. Okay, so I’m going to Paris without a lover…I’m over it….and I can’t wait to get there! The day will come when I’m able to go with my soulmate and it will be every bit as beautiful as I have always imagined it would be.

Life can be hard work at times; the battle can wear you down to the point of despair, but it truly is hope and faith that all will be well, that we can make different choices to improve our lives, that keeps us going. Losing faith in ourselves or our life’s plan can destroy everything we are. I am extremely glad I had that special half hour. With this new and improved faith, I have hope, and that is a much better feeling and far more productive state to be in.

No matter how hard it gets……..keep the faith.

JG 09.02.16