It gets easier as I go along. The worries that used bounce frantically around my mind at night keeping me awake, no longer show up. I never thought I would be free from this. I never thought I would be free from the ominous depression that hung on me like a lead life jacket. The weight of my problems keeping me in bed for long periods of time. I thought it was the end. I thought there was no escape yet here I am today; liberated and content. What changed? One day I decided that to die trying to change it was better than to die not trying. I was left with two options, in the end, suicide or asking for help. The thought of asking for help made me feel weak, a failure as a man and an all-round worthless piece of shit. I was already so low that I was contemplating suicide but the thought of asking for help pushed me lower. There is the problem. The fact that we live in a time where everyone is equal and all that flannel yet the majority of suicide victims are men. I can understand why. Because even coming from an open and loving family were communication is encouraged I still couldn’t reach out when I needed to. I felt emasculated. Regardless of what people say a man needs purpose and strength. Even though I had the strength and all those things I felt like a failure as a man. To ask for help was to denounce my masculinity. But like I said: I had to try and turn it around. I don’t know why. I don’t know what made me pick the phone up and call the doctor. I do know that the journey to the doctor was like walking in concrete shoes, tears streaking my face like rain on a train window. I slowly made my way there my pride destroyed. I felt like a failure.
My name was called and I went in. I told him the score. I told him that I couldn’t carry on living like this. I was a mess. He offered medication but I declined I wanted to talk to someone about this. I wanted it gone. I was fucking sick of not living but tired of living. I was sick of life kicking sand in my face. I was put on this planet to do something, we all are. I didn’t want to spend it in bed crying and berating myself as I had done for the previous year. I wanted help or I wanted out. He arranged for me to speak to someone. That day changed my entire life.
I went and spoke to the counsellor and felt so much better. It wasn’t an instantaneous fix but it got a LOT of shit off my chest. A lot of shit that I once believed held dominion over me lost its power in the air of that room. As soon as I left that is where the work started. The counsellor just cleared enough bullshit for me to start to compartmentalise things. I’d read a shit load of philosophy, psychology and Buddhism over the years when I was seeking a solution to the low-level angst that dulled most days. Thanks to this I knew that my thoughts were mine. The reason I had got into the position of being so depressed was because I hadn’t been dealing with shit. I had been pushing it down to be dealt with later, never to be seen again. When shit got real and I lost my job, all that shit came back, magnified and demanding to be dealt with. That is what I started to do. A bit at a time. A minute at a time. I started to meditate and learn the difference between thoughts and reality. As I would get anxious over future events, or to be more exact, the potential outcome of future events. I would always think about the worse possible outcome. This stopped me from trying things. The thought of failing kept me from living.
To push myself out of this pit of despair I got some voluntary work a few months after the session. I remember going there and the lady asking if I was there to help or there for help. That’s the state I was in. I used to walk down the street self-conscious about the way I was walking. I was uncomfortable in my own skin and felt like an alien. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. It didn’t matter how bad I felt I didn’t want to go back to laying in bed with negative thoughts swirling around my head, chastising and mocking me continually.
The counsellor said to me that “the pieces will fall into place,” and he’s right. That voluntary work leads me into a job in a care home and then into the teaching profession. I just kept going and growing from that point onward. Slowly. Sometimes a backwards step but always a lesson learned. It seemed impossible at the time. I seemed like a failure and a worthless piece of shit with no right to life. It just seemed that if I had nothing to lose then I might as well try.
Well, ten years later and I am sitting in Mexico City airport typing this in a cafe. I am on my way to Cancun, alone. I am now comfortable with who I am. I am trying not to cry at the thought of the journey I have made from that point to this. From despising who I was to being content in my own company. That how all the fucking nonsense I believed about being a failure stopped me getting help for so long, when really I should have reached out earlier. The experience freed me from the illusion of expectation. It allowed the person I thought I should be die and the person I truly was come to the fore. Being myself enabled my confidence to flourish as my inner world and outer world aligned for the first time in decades. I was free to be myself. The experience did result in a suicide but one of my ego not of my physical being. I was humbled by the experience and how people helped me. I write this to try to pay it forward and to encourage people, like me, who are to afraid to attempt to change, to at least try.
If you’ve been to the place I’m referring to. If you know the isolation that I felt. I want you to know you are not alone. That I to was once there and that I too didn’t believe it would ever get better but slowly it did. I implore you to try because like me you will astound yourself. I am now who I never ever thought I would be. It just started one day ten years ago and each day since has been a step towards today. A step towards contentment and an outlook on life that I never thought possible.