Skip to main content

The Words it Was Almost Too Late to Say

“It’s so loud inside my head, with words that I should have said. As I drown in my regrets, I can’t take back the words I never said” Lupe Fiasco, Words I Never Said

I’m ready to talk.

It’s been over a year since I opened up on this blog with a post about my long term suffering with depression and anxiety that I’d only just started to acknowledge, face and treat. I needed a release; a way of letting everybody know who I was and what was happening. I felt hiding it was making it harder. Talking about it undoubtedly helped for a period. The response from friends and loved ones was incredible and there was comfort there, but they couldn’t cure me of what I was struggling with.

I'm still not sure whether it's the right time to be 100% honest about some of the major triggers of my problems. There were certain people and events that certainly made things much harder for me in the past 24 months. But they were just additions to underlying problems that have existed for years and finger pointing will do me no good today. But I am ready to talk about some of the things I’ve gone through the last 24 months. I’m ready because not speaking about it made it much worse.

“Some of us fall and some of us fly, but at the end of the book all of us die” Styles P, My Brother

I’ve also read so many inspiring blogposts about others who have opened up about their own illnesses. The majority of these have been of the more physically debilitating kind where the person has shown great strength and bravery to fight their unfortunate circumstance and carry on living. These posts have a double effect on me; a great sense of pride in the person even though they are strangers, but a deep sense of shame that I have struggled so much with a mental illness that isn’t so obvious to the world. It’s incredible that the stigma that surrounds mental health isn’t just in those that don’t understand it, but in sufferers themselves, like me. We actually feel like we’re not allowed to claim ourselves to be ill. I've found that difficult. When I talk about my illness I know there are people who don't understand trying to correlate it with other stories of other illnesses they've seen. And in that I know they see mine as pathetic and unworthy of their time comparitvely, because I do too. There are much worse things happening to much stronger people than I, but unfortunately that is not how this thing works. 

“And I will find my strength to untame my mouth, when I used to be afraid of the words.” Ella Henderson, Yours

When I think about where I am now I know there has been improvement, but last year from beginning to end was living in constant fear. Waves of often unexplainable sadness would hit me. Loneliness would envelop me at times it didn’t merit it. Tears would come when there was no reason to cry. And panic – panic and uncontrollable shaking in your sleep or at your work desk or on the train or in a friend’s house - would come unexpectantly and powerfully. I was so scared. I was constantly excusing myself to stand in bathrooms alone and cry or try and control the panic attacks when all I wanted was somebody to explain what the hell was happening to me. The majority of these came with no trigger or explanation. No amount of support or counselling could stop it and, with things in my home and personal life getting incredibly worse, my depression fought me hard and won.

“Well I’ve tried, everything but suicide, but it’s crossed my mind.” Gnarls Barkley, Just a Thought

For most of 2014 I lived secretly planning to die. I’d reached lows that most of you won’t imagine and was only falling deeper. Eventually I gave up and decided that I couldn't continue with so much pain. It was time to end it.

Unbeknown to anybody, I also had an entire contingency plan that involved living. I decided to start again far away from my problems; to run away. I had all but secured a job in a different part of the country. I had a house to rent sorted just not yet signed for. I had my moving money saved. I didn’t share that with anybody but I was ready to go and start afresh elsewhere. I was ready to run if living seemed like an option.

Increasingly though, with every new bout of pain it looked more likely that I wasn’t going to run, I was going to end. I set myself a period of just over two months in April 2014 to make the choice, but the details for both plans were put in place. I started a countdown, specifically on Twitter. I wrote the notes to those I’d be leaving behind. I began saying my personal farewells, unbeknown to those receiving them. To those I couldn’t see personally, I sent them flowers so they’d always know what they meant to me. I taught my job at the time to anybody I could, or left instructions, so it could carry on should I depart. I took time off work to spend full days with my 93-year-old Nan, my niece and nephew and my mother – each one a really special day for me that they could hopefully keep with them. I made sure there was a last evening out with my best friends at a time our often missing 6th member was home from Colombia and gave them all a big but bemusing hug at the end of the night. Basically, I was serious.

I took a week off in the summer to decide finally which option to take. I journeyed around Britain – seven towns/cities in seven days. They were handpicked to include days with old friends, special girls or just places that meant a lot to me. I travelled to London-Leeds-Edinburgh-Hartlepool-Huddersfield-Liverpool-Blackpool before returning home. Some involved great nights with great people. Other times I walked old haunts or just stood by the sea on my own for hours. The week gave me a contented finality to life. By the end of it I felt peace and had made my choice – I was going for the option that ended it because life had drawn a natural conclusion. The conclusion date, at the beginning of July 2014, was set.

I went to do it. I saw my mum in the morning, gave her a huge hug that she even noticed had a bit more feeling in it as she actually half-jokingly said “I'll see you later, right?” I laughed nervously as I journeyed twenty miles away. Then I sat in a pub, finished my notes to publish just before the end and got ready.

But then I thought of what was making me runaway and who I was putting under more strain by doing so. For the first time in a three month period I thought of the impact on others. I felt the overwhelming guilt one should probably feel that I hadn’t yet because I was so desperately unwell. I couldn’t do it – not to them. I couldn’t end but I couldn’t run either because, despite my own health problems, there were others that needed saving too that I’d be making everything worse for. So I went home. I didn’t end it. I didn’t run. I stayed. I got into bed that night and I stayed. I made it to the next day and I stayed. I started a new job but location wise I stayed. I still thought about ending it every day but I stayed.

The consequence was that I spent the second half of 2014 trying to keep myself alive week by week. I barely remember any of the rest of the year, completely disregarding any concern for my physical health, weight or finances. I bumbled from week to week – sometimes keeping myself going, but mostly setting days of absolution in my head. “I’ll do it Wednesday,” I’d think, but then I couldn’t because I was supposed to be going out with a friend, or it was too close to somebody’s birthday and I didn’t want to ruin that for them, or it would ruin the party on Friday for everybody. Mark Johnson – who never wanted to hurt anybody but himself.

“Sun is up, I’m a mess, Got to get out now, got to run from this. Here comes the shame, here comes the shame...” Sia, Chandelier

This blog suffered from it. For most of the year, I had no passion or desire for this particular hobby, aside from the consumption of it. I wasn’t an alcoholic; I had just stopped caring about the latest craze, newest bars and subsequent euphoria. I was in the same pubs drinking the same beers. It wasn’t until I sat down to write a popular post of mine in August – Everything Wrong with Beer at this Moment – that I realised there was a little bit of passion returning for me to write such a post.  But even that featured the line  "In what will either end up being a retirement post or the spark I needed" which was actually a secret reference to my self-belief that I wouldn't be alive to write another post. By November though, I’d begun to enjoy beer for the right reasons again.

Very slowly, towards the end of the year, things gradually changed a little. The end of the world thoughts weren’t so frequent, though they were still there. I started getting involved in beer again and making a conscious effort to attend more events. I started dating again after a period of promiscuity without feeling.  And, after only ever having lived with family, friends or girlfriends, I moved into my own place; a big risk considering my instability. It was necessary though to try and fight what I’d been feeling and it has helped. There’s a huge kitchen and a beer cellar – the main ingredients I’ll need.

I’m not okay. I’m not sure when I will be. But I’m a bit better. I can see past next week. It might only be a few months ahead but it’s an image of me here, healthy and happy. I want to do all the things I stopped looking forward to because I’d stopped looking forward. It’s not easy, but life often isn’t. It sometimes feels like hell but life often is heaven.  

My note at the end was over 10,000 words. I guess I felt there was a lot I had to reveal in it before I went but since I’m still here I’m not ready to reveal everything it said. However, here is a snippet from it that I wrote regarding my mental health problems:-

It still remains impossible to make people understand how it is to live inside your head all day. You can’t escape the feelings of being trapped or nervous at simple ideas and tasks. You are a being with dreams, but all those dreams are clouded by a sense of dread and belief that they can never come true. Every simple event has already had every worst possible scenario played out in your head long before the event is even a fixture, and those worst case scenarios seem constantly likely. Life opportunities aren’t grabbed because they could lead to something amazing, they are avoided with a certainty that they will only cause more pain. You don’t want to live your life this way and try every day to wake up with a different mind set, but every day is met with a “cheer up,” a “get over yourself,” a “snap out of it” or a “grow a pair!” that only returns you to the back of your head where it’s safer.

It’s horrible to be so anxious constantly and to over think and over analyse every little insignificant action a person performs. Everything they say, everything they suggest, everything they do all seems to have gigantic consequences. It’s frightening. When I started having regular, untriggered panic attacks, I was afraid. They sometimes happened publically – and have occurred in the likes of Nando’s and Primark before, places that don’t make me feel slightly anxious – and I could always cleverly cover them up with some water and a bit of chocolate. But the truth was I was terrified at first by my body’s malfunctions and didn’t want anybody to know. It took me too long to embrace them, to accept that they were part of me. I’d deal with them similarly to my migraines and just go sit in a dark room alone for a while until the worst was over; therefore hiding it from people. Yet each one deflated and frustrated me. I enjoyed being lively and confident but my body was determined I should be lonely and insular.

I’m fed up. I don’t enjoy living anymore. I don’t look forward to the next step, to the future, to what is to come .I can’t because my mind and body won’t let me, no matter what treatment I receive. I either stay here trapped or leave. And no matter how much I try to enjoy my life, I am consumed by this overwhelming sadness at all times.

I don’t regret staying. I mean that in reference to both the options I felt I had. I have incredible friends. I have a small, but lovely family. I get to see my niece and nephew grow up which is the most beautiful thing. People love me even in the times I’m so hard to love. Those people make everything worthwhile.

"And what if I really thought some miracle would see us through? But what if the miracle was even getting one moment with you?" Taylor Swift, Ronan

I can’t even tell you what those people did. The friends that would visit or invite me out at the speed of a car. Those that stood with me whilst I cried in public places. Those that let me be too promiscuous or adventurous but didn’t judge whilst I dealt with things. Those friends that still check on me now, for whom it wasn’t just a phase. Because we are so feeling and emotional that every text or card or thought or declaration of love is so meaningful that they are all recalled, recorded and rememebered. 

I’m a different person though. Choosing a time to die must be mentally similar to having a terminal illness that has a set time limit. Your mind set is changed. Where I was once very confrontational, I am more passive. Where I would once be immediately suspicious of strangers, I am more welcoming. Where I would once react badly to hate and bullying – that I’ve even been subject to on this very blog – I am calm and understanding. I’ve been to the very worst places which makes it easier to see the best.

And as for them…

“You see her when you close your eyes, maybe one day you’ll understand why, everything you touch surely dies.” Passenger, Let Her Go

There are days I wake up thinking these thoughts are somebody else's. There are times I see myself as others see me - as that excessive partier who likes a drink, juggles people and is careless but care-free. I don't know who that Mark is but he is part of me. But I don't really know the other Mark that cries at certain songs, sometimes stops walking up the stairs and can't physically walk any further, purposely smashes the odd plate whilst doing the washing-up for no explicable reason or celebrates having more than three hours sleep a night as it is such a rarity. I am an accumulation of both but don't know either.

Eventually there may be a second part to this honesty; a point where I tell you everything that I had to go through for so long. But for now let me share this so that hopefully somebody can finally understand.

I hope to help others in the future with similar thoughts and feelings. I hope to make it a little easier for others finding it hard. I hope to fund-raise and counsel. And part of my reasons for those hopes are very selfish - to keep me busy. I have to be busy. I have to be social. I have to be away from myself. 

“I want a new life. One without a cause. So I’m coming home tonight. No matter what the cost” Eminem/Nate Reuss, Headlights

There’s nothing to be afraid of once you've read this. You’ll still find me as I was before. But I’ve spent too long with those parts of me controlling my voice. I only ever told one person these words. Now it is time for everybody to hear. Less they be the last I ever say. 


Popular posts from this blog

"They Had Their Issues, So..."

      There’s a set of garages to rent as storage units near my workplace. One of them is taken by a local florist that uses it to store flower arrangements for various events, that are more often than not funerals.   As such, at least once a week at 8am I will pass a car being loaded up with flowers arranged into heart shaped patterns or the letters M U M. It is a grounding reminder that, as I mentally grumble my way through the upcoming arbitrary grievances of my ordinary working day, a group of family and friends locally is going through the hardest time. It provides much needed perspective on days when I could do with being reminded of all that I have to be thankful for.   These little moments explain to me why it is possible for us to share a communal loss when a celebrity passes away. Grief is often a personal and lonely experience, shared between a minority of people in your life. When a co-worker loses a relative or friend, it has little affect on me, bar signing of

The Ten Pubs That Made Me - Part 3: Dr Okell's / My Foley's Tap House and Leeds

A pint in Mr Foley's Tap House from December 2022     This is Part 3 (the fourth post) of an ongoing project. Please see the beginning of Part 0 for details.    Come the end of this journey, there may be a lesson in procrastination that I am unlikely to heed. These posts stem from a list that I made three years ago and a series that I embarked on 18 months ago. We’ve only now reached a 30% completion rate and with this post we are back to fail for the second time.   This odyssey began with a trip to Mr Foley’s Tap House in February 2022 – named Dr Okell’s bar on my first visits in 2005 – only to discover that it was closed. It did reopen by the time that the post was coming out and I managed a brief visit in December 2022. However, my July 1 st 2023 trip to Leeds, on which this post is based, is met with this sign at the door of the bar:      A quick check of social media shows an Instagram post from the day before (June 30 th ) announcing the closure of the

LIVERPOOL - the City that Craft Beer Forgot Part II (and found...)

After visiting Liverpool, one of my favourite cities, in February this year, and not impressing people with my rather hasty but honest verdict on the city’s lack of craft beer, I jumped at the chance to return last week and hoped to come out with a more attractive judgement. A couple of friends and I visited on a day out, with neither of them having been drinking in the city before. It was left to me – or rather, I volunteered – to plan the day’s itinerary and places to visit. I had a couple of new or unvisited places in mind myself, but knew it would be unfair to miss out on some of the city’s famous gems. With around 10-12 hours in which to fit in an entire city, I opted to concentrate on the famous Georgian Quarter and see if we had time for the Dale Street end later on.    We planned to arrive in the city for around 11a.m. just in time to walk up Mount Pleasant to the new-on-me, though I believe it has been opened three years, Clove Hitch on Hope Street for breakfast.