(If you haven’t read my previous blog ‘Demons‘, then now would be a good time to do so…)
It is now just over a year since I almost jumped off a cliff.
Did things improve for me afterwards?
They did not.
The smash on the windscreen is where my head impacted the glass. It hurt. A lot. I even had to ask the surgeon to stop while I cried in pain as he scraped the pieces from my skull.
But let me go back; before the crash, and after the cliff.
After ‘Demons’ my mental state deteriorated. I was unable to function like any normal person, and I’d start every day sat on my bed crying. I would then get dressed and go to my job as a taxi driver, where my sunglasses would mask the tears that fell constantly. It reached a stage where my body would become accustomed to my condition and would no longer shake with the sobs, and I’d be able to talk to my customers normally as I cried behind the lens. I don’t think any of them had any idea about the mess they were sat behind.
After work, I’d find solace with my son, and then once I had dropped him back to his mother’s I’d go home and fall back on vodka and drugs – unwilling and unable to sit in on my own, but too desolate to leave my flat and interact with others.
There are several reasons that caused my predicament; drug-use, money troubles, self-loathing, and they all fed upon one another, growing in strength until I could no longer look in the mirror without scaring myself.
But there was one main reason that my whole world was crumbling…
It’s no secret that I was having an affair with a married woman, but I won’t name any names, and I won’t divulge any details, except to say that it’s a lot more complicated than it sounds.
Isn’t it always?
I loved her with every fibre of my being and my soul. I loved her with a power I was never aware I had within me. She became my whole life, and we dreamed of the day we could be together and stop hiding our love. Our relationship was intense from the start.
But the pressure told.
We parted after a year, and both my counselor and my doctor looked at the mess that I had become, and both agreed that I was mourning the girl as if she had died. It felt that way, too.
I still see her now. It is a small island we live on after all.
To not touch her face or tell her how I feel when I see her is a strange – and unpleasant – experience. To walk past her as we flash each other a weak smile, and yet see that look from her crushes me every time. To be so far removed from someone who knows you like no other and has seen your soul is devastating.
It’s only within the last couple of weeks that I’ve stopped crying after every time I see her.
She was – unfairly – blamed for my car crash and my mental demise. Obviously, the situation that we had created did not help me, but to lay the blame at her feet is wrong.
She was not there the night I crashed, although I had seen her and tried to call her after I clipped the bridge and sent my car into some trees, but being chased by the police meant I had to turn my phone off as she was trying to contact me. I passed out around a friends, and woke up later that day surrounded by her and my family as they all tried to staunch the flow of blood from my head.
Eventually I had to admit defeat and go to hospital, where the police were waiting.
They told me that I had to go to the station for interviewing the next day. I agreed, but had not figured on slipping into shock and concussion as soon as I got home, and then to be awoken by the police as they came through my door several hours later, wondering why I had not shown at the time they had instructed.
I was put in a cell, and had a police doctor visit me as I was not allowed to administer my own medication. Within 30 seconds of talking to me he advised the police to release me and ordered me to go back to hospital and have x-rays of my skull as it could be fractured, and that I had a severe concussion.
I walked out of the police station, skipped hospital, went home, and took a lot of Valium.
I missed my first court date because I could not handle the pressure, and I was eating those tiny little pills like sweets. They coated me in such a delicious haze that it took a lot of people to pull me ‘out of the Vallies’ and make me realise that I was dying before everyone’s eyes…
But not before things got worse.
Valium is a bizarre thing. It renders you uncaring, yet take too much and it can make you explode violently. It is with zero exaggeration that I write about having NO memory of two weeks of my life, such was the effect of the drugs. In fact, it was not until weeks later that I realised people were talking about a period of my life that I had no recollection of. I thought everyone was in on some big joke over me.
These are some of the facts:
I was found sitting in the middle of a road, eating sweets off the tarmac.
I unsuccessfully tried to admit myself to the psychiatric hospital.
I successfully admitted myself into hospital… where my mum sat and endured several hours with me. No one will tell me what I was talking to her about.
I was walking into things – not ‘bumping into the corner of a coffee table’, but full-on staggering into walls, closed doors, etc.
I continued with drink and drugs.
My drug counselor saw the medical report from my hospital ‘visit’ and asked how I was not dead.
I screamed and yelled and threatened my friends… good friends who had stuck by me but were now feeling the strain of my unpredictable nature.
I turned on those I loved.
I took to carrying a baseball bat with me.
I tried to take my youngest boy from his mother’s, but she – rightly – told me I was in no fit state to take care of myself let alone him.
And the worst thing about all of the above is that I do not recall one piece of it. People still tell me now what was happening back then, and it is a very surreal – and scary – thing to hear about yourself and your actions with no knowledge of them.
It is nothing like a drunken black-out where you start to form vague memories of previous events later the next day.
I was dive-bombing fast, and taking others with me. There had to be a breaking point.
And there was. The night before my second court date.
It was late, and I was in bed when my boss-and-friend of 20 years walked straight into my flat and said he needed to talk to me.
I sat on the sofa in my pj trousers, touching the wounds on my head that were starting to scar.
“Right,” he said. “Depending on your answer, I will either help you, or walk out of this door and leave you to it.”
“Ok…” I said.
“Have you got a drug problem?”
“Yeah,” I nodded.
He said he would help me.
Picking me up the next morning, we drove to court. By now I was becoming more clear-headed and determined to sort things out for myself. The Valium was slowly leaving my body and my inner-drive was returning. I knew that I had to try and ignore my demons, and go back to work properly to pay all my ‘debts’ and to keep a roof over my head. I could see everything that I needed to do in order to put my life back on the right tracks.
Which is why it threw me when my solicitor told me I was going to prison.
I suddenly needed her by my side. My best friend, lover, soul-mate – the one person I needed and turned to whenever things went bad… and I have endured so many bad times over the last year. I could feel my re-found strength and resolve leaving me.
And then she walked into the court.
The relief flushed through me, and we did not need to say anything to one another. I closed my eyes and pressed my forehead against hers. Her being there was enough to make me breathe again.
I entered the courtroom. I was charged with several driving crimes and one drugs offense. The more they read out the more I realised how out-of-control I had become. The thoughts of worrying my family and dragging people into the path of destruction that I had created shook me, and I started to wonder if jail might be the best place for me.
But because my boss was there in a show of support, and my solicitor worked well, and maybe having her there made them think she was my partner, but the magistrates put me on a tagged-curfew (meaning I could not leave home after 8pm and before 7am), one years’ probation, and told me I had to attend a ‘behavioral disorder course’. They basically gave me everything they could without sending me to prison.
I walked out on a high (a natural one, for once) and knew that I had to make the most of this opportunity. I turned to her and said that I would start a drug-counseling programme, and that now was the time that we should stop hiding our relationship and move on together.
She smiled, but not the smile she had flashed me months ago that I had fallen in love with.
“It’s not as simple as that,” she said, and I could see tears in her eyes. “I can’t be with a man who may end up dead or in prison…”
She was right.
I had no words.
My boss had some for me;
“Get in the car.”
He drove me home and I asked to go to work. He said no, gave me some money, and told me to take a few days off.
I behaved. I stayed home with my son, and when I was allowed I went back to work, but only after convincing them that the Valium was no longer impairing me. Mentally I was struggling, and this was the time I mentioned at the start of this blog; the continual tears. It would be worse if I received a text or call from her, and my heart would fracture every time. Passing places that we had visited together would always trigger memories and tears, and there were a lot of places we had been, and – as a taxi driver – I would drive past them every day.
The nights were the hardest. I knew that I could not let my demons take me down with them again, but it was hard… so very, very hard to not lose yourself in drink and drugs when your mind and heart are both screaming at you to do something to ease the incredible pain…
During the very darkest times I would be stood in my front room, crying, looking at the three different methods of killing myself that I had laid out on the table in front of me, trying to figure out which one would leave me in a suitable ‘condition’ in case it was my mum who found my body.
Eventually the medication kicked in. It was a bizarre moment. I was at work, picking up from a house in Ashlake Copse Road. I had been having a particularly bad day psychologically, and the person I was picking up was late. It had been raining, and I was gazing at all of the trees around me, when something in my mind suddenly seemed to ease itself. I am not sure if others have had the same effect while on Lustral/Sertraline, but I felt better for the rest of the day… and beyond.
During the next few months I would work and clear my debts, all the while keeping busy, yet never tiring myself out despite the medication keeping me awake at night. I was prescribed sleeping pills which helped.
Towards the end of the year I had made such progress that probation told me they were signing me off for good behaviour, and my doctor said that it was time to cut my tablets in half. Things were finally looking up for me.
I would like to tell you that everything is, indeed, rosy right now…
But nothing could be further from the truth. Recently I’ve discovered that the medication was simply a means of quietening my demons; a method of blunting the claws that had been lacerating me from within.
I could go into detail on the ups and many, many downs in my life of late, but I feel that I have taken enough of your time already, and the events that I have gone through would make one hell of a book rather than a blog…
Watch this space.
My current state of mind is not well, but it is not as bad as that day I was stood on the cliff. Once again I must borrow a quote from the indomitable Stephen Fry to explain my own situation better;
“I used to think it utterly normal that I suffered from “suicidal ideation” on an almost daily basis. In other words, for as long as I can remember, the thought of ending my life came to me frequently and obsessively… I haven’t considered suicide in anything other than a puzzled intellectual way since this pharmaceutical regime “kicked in”.”
It’s the same thing for me. Where once I would look at pretty much anything and wonder how quick I could kill myself with it, now I look back at how I felt and try and analyse it as Fry mentions.
However, I am very aware that the ease in medication has contributed to my mental demise. I now know that I would be down with my demons if it was not for the meds… and that scares the fucking shit out of me. It means that I’m not ‘fixed’, and that I’ve only been glossing over my problems.
I’ve become infamous for my spontaneity (hence the behavioural disorder course), and a counselor told me that I am this way because I do not care if I live or die. Sat here now, thinking hard about it, I think she was right.
But it is not the fact that I want to die – and, by writing that sentence I have just proven the counselor correct – I just do not care about the repercussions of the things I do. I have hurt people along the way… good people who wanted nothing else but to look after me. I’ve had ADHD, Tourette’s, bipolar, and many other colourful things thrown at me in a bid to figure out what is going on inside my head.
Imagine, if you will, a pressure gauge in your skull that fills up fast like an uncontrollable boiling kettle, filling your mind with a shrill scream and clouding your vision until you succumb to whatever the fuck the Spontaneity Demon wants you to do.
This is how I live day-to-day.
And yes, I know my demons. I know them well. They are all here with me as I write… as I think… as I breathe…
There’s the Jealousy Demon, the Anger Demon, the Suicide Demon, the Addiction Demon, and the demon with brown eyes and wild hair that whispers she loves me as she drags her claws across my broken heart…
And there are more demons…
There are a whole army of demons down here with me.
But there is one demon who terrifies me. He says nothing. He just stares; black-eyes shining as he smiles that fanged-smile. He is with me every waking second, and will not succumb to the medication or any attempts to remove him from my life…
For that is the demon I know best of all…
For that demon is me.