Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Living with Death

I suffer from severe depression, the kind that has led me to attempt suicide three times in my life. At the moment I am going through one of the phases where everything is a hassle and all I want is for life to speed up and come to its own, hopefully peaceful, end.

I'm not planning on ending my life anytime soon, but if death showed up with the scythe, I wouldn't put up a fight, in fact I'd be quite relieved. Almost. Why almost? Because I'd worry about my eldest, but more of that later.

Most of my life has been spent in a depressive mood. As a child I would wake up some mornings unable to physically move: it was an effort of will to lift a finger, an arm or twitch my leg. My whole body was inert. But this was the 1970s and children didn't get deprressed, they were just being awkward or lazy.

Secondary school was a nightmare and the only thought that kept me going was the belief that the adult world would be better. It wasn't and at 18 years old I cut my left wrist. Not very much and the pain was a shock. For the next couple of years I kept my focus on an upcoming future event that I looked forward to, but even that wasn't enough. I attmpeted suicide again at age 20. An overdose. Had someone not come into my hotel room I would not be writing this now.

I quit my job at the bank and went to work in a pub, doing what I wanted to do and it lifted my spirits, I still had bad days, weeks, but nowhere near as bad as they had been. That job helped me face bullys, life and family with humour and I finally felt free.

A few years later I got married, but to the wrong woman. She was manipulative and cruel, though I didn't see it at the time as I loved her. We had three boys, all of whom I love and two of whom now live with me after being thrown out by their mother. I suffered 16 years in that marraige and when the end came I had nowhere to go. 

The 21st century had not been kind. Between 2005 to 2009, I was made redundant, my marriage fell apart as the woman I loved had affairs with drunks, women and other men, my father died and when my then ex-wife got a council house, I found myself homeless and ended up living with my mother.

In the summer of 2009 I took another overdose.

Thankfully, attitudes had changed in the intervening 30 years and I received a lot of medical help, and still do. The local mental health unit were useless (they don't communicate) but my GPs have been fantastic, and I'm still on anti-depressant medication. Not the heavy-duty type, just something to stop the lows getting lower.

I had one further girlfriend, a relationship that lasted a few months, but again, another woman who was manipulative. I'm single and plan on staying that way unless I meet the right person. I refuse to label every woman as cruel based on a few examples.

Since then, I've published two books, got a home, joined a drama group and a writers' group. 

Yet, still, there's a hole in my life. I have friends, but no one I can sit and just be quiet with, or chat with. No one who can talk about politics, philosophy or religion without ranting, no one who can discuss an opposing idea without assuming I agree with it. No one who isn't trying to manipulate me to share their beliefs. I appreciate them for other things, but I can't open up to them.

Not having that kind of person in my life makes existence harder. There are days when the only thing that keeps me going is how my mentally disabled child would cope. Simple things, like loading the dishwasher, putting the washing on, shaving look like mountains to scale. 

The biggest problem is the loneliness. Not for lack of people either in the physical or the virtual world, and some virtual friends are as good or better than physical ones, but for the lack of an understanding one. Someone whose friendhip builds over time and who knows when to cheer me on or be quiet and for whom I would willingly do the same.

I doubt my life is unique, and I know there are people in the world who have had, and still have, a far worse time of it than I do. But none of that takes away my own pain, it just forces me to question the validity of a world and a system that allows suffering to propagate.

I'll leave this post with a thought that I have discovered to be true.

This Friday, let's laugh and ponder life together.


Victoria Snelling said...

Hey, hope you're doing ok. I understand what you're going through and how hard it is. Your people are out there.

Chloe said...

I want to say this is a brave post, but I fear that would sound patronising. It is sincerely meant though! I suppose there is never going to be a easy cure or answer to what you suffer, therefore I simply pray that you find hope that leads you to what you're looking for.

Martin Willoughby said...

Victoria - Thanks.

Chloe - You're not patronising, thank you.

Valentina Hepburn said...

It must have been very difficult for you to write all of that down, although maybe you derived a little comfort from it. Sometimes it helps to let people know who we are, and about our experiences of life and the hands we're dealt.
It saddens me, and I have to say surprises me that you are in the place you talk about. When we last spoke you sounded so positive; there seemed to be many good things happening, so I can only assume things have taken an unexpected turn. Don't forget, Martin, you are unique. There is no one else like you, so in turn, no one can feel the way you do. You've been dealt some terrible blows, but it says everything about those who dealt them and really very little about you, except that you are a kind and gentle person. You are also a very strong person to provide support every day for your children, especially a child with special needs. I was a single parent once. I know how much pressure it can put on a person, particularly if we feel we're not achieving our goals. Try to remain strong and remember that a few hours can make all the difference to our perspective on life. You are well thought of.