This is part two in a series of four posts. You can find the first one here.
For many years, I struggled with depression and stress and anxiety – all the things I talked about in the first blog/here. And I actually tried to kill myself, once in the middle of 1993, I believe it was, and earlier, when I was 14, 15. I laugh about that first time now. I can remember sitting in my bedroom one day, because I got bullied at school – I wasn’t very good academically and I just didn’t enjoy my school life at all. I just wanted out, I wanted out. I had bought one of these really big, stupid knives, one with an ornate handle, and I’d hidden it in my room and nobody knew I had it.
And so I got up really early one morning, took all my clothes off, and I sort of knelt down, because I’d seen the samurai do that ritual suicide thing. So I thought, that’s what I’ll do. I’ll do the ritual suicide and I held the knife to my stomach and I sort of pushed it in a little bit and it hurt like buggery. It really, really hurt, it only went in probably a millimetre and I couldn’t do it any more. I was trying to put pressure on it and I thought, well, should I fall on it or something?
But I couldn’t do it. Something was stopping me, and between the ages of 14 and when I was about 32, 33, there was always something stopping me doing it. I’d get close, but I wouldn’t actually follow through.
I now want to set the scene, because a lot of people who have never suffered a serious depression don’t know what it is and don’t understand what it’s like.
Depression isn’t feeling sad, low, unhappy or miserable. I mean, all those things come into it, but essentially it’s just being numb. It’s being in a place where nothing reaches you, nothing gets to you and it can start really, really simply, to be honest. You might have had an argument at work, or been given a task that you’re not quite able to do, and you don’t know who to ask to get help with it. Or it could’ve been an argument with a partner. There are all sorts of things that can kick it off.
And it’s kind of like a gradual decline. You start feeling a bit ‘off’, you feel a bit ill, a bit off-colour. Your diet might change. You might start drinking more, or drinking less. You start to sort of shrink in on yourself. You stop talking to people. You stop talking to people unless you absolutely have to. So if you’re at work and you’re on that downward spiral, you will still talk to people, still engage with them, but it’s very much as if it’s all on the surface.
And then once you’re down there, well, that’s it. You just don’t want to talk to anyone. Nobody can get through to you. Nobody can make you see differently.
I mean, when I tried to kill myself in my 30s, I’d taken some stuff and that would’ve been it. I planned it really carefully so that I’d be dead by about mid-afternoon. My girlfriend at the time wouldn’t be home until seven, eight o’clock that night; you know, how twisted do you have to be to actually think that somebody’s going to come home and catch your dead body like this?
So I took all this stuff and yes, I was just unconscious, basically, and my girlfriend came home early, just by coincidence. I wouldn’t be here today if she hadn’t come home early. And of course she just… shit herself, called an ambulance.
I was taken to hospital and then I was there for, I don’t know, a couple of days while they pumped me full of stuff to clean me out. And then a rescue team came to talk to me, and I wasn’t sectioned but I was advised to go to a mental health facility. Ironically, that was one of the things that said to me, never again.
Because I went into this place and it was full of some seriously, seriously disturbed people. There were guys there from prison who had committed murder who fancied a bit of a holiday, because that’s what it was to them, so they’d go and assault somebody in the prison or they’d damage themselves, they’d cut themselves or whatever, just to get a break and to come to this facility.
So this was in the mid ’90s; everybody was still smoking and I didn’t smoke. The entire place just stank of cigarette smoke and people were just wandering around. I just sat in this chair feeling sorry for myself, and this guy came up and said, get out of my fucking chair, I’m gonna fucking kill you right now, and he was huge and I said, okay mate, and I got up. And there were no private rooms or anything. You’re in a ward with about a dozen other men and you know everything that goes on and everyone’s drugged up to the eyeballs.
And the next morning I saw a nurse and I said look, if this is it, if this is supposed to help me, I’m done. I’m never gonna do this again ever, I just don’t want to be here, I hate this place. And they said well, you need to talk to me about your problems. And I said, look, my problem’s gone now. I just do not want to be in this environment. I’m either going to get stabbed or get cancer or something, I just don’t want to be here anymore. And he went okay, that’s fine. So he called somebody else in, I saw a few other people, and that was it and I was out.
So that’s why I’m so close to this whole issue of mental health and suicide and everything. I hope the next blog will give you some ideas about how you and the people around you can recognise the signs of depression, and what you can do to help.