There was a part of my life that I look back on with fond memories. I was young, 21, free, and ready to mingle. The parties, the alcohol, and oh boy — the women.
From about 20 until about 22 were the wildest and most free moments of my life. I can honestly say there was a happier time in my youth. The cost of living was low and I was earning enough to party and also live and survive comfortably. Life was good. I had good friends, a decent job and a lifestyle that I enjoyed.
Then, of course, all of that was ripped away from me one fateful month. You see, nearing the end of my 21 years of life I decided to go on a weeks binge on alcohol. That’s right. Drink constantly until it was time to go back to work.
So, the next six days of my life I spent completely inebriated. Then as the close of the week loomed I decided to pack it all up, just stay sober. The resulting trauma to my body was devastating, and safe to say that I ended up in psychiatric hospital for around about a month. After such I could no longer feel safe around people in my community, and wasn’t able to fulfill the requirements of my job anymore. I had to pack up my stuff and move home. I quit my job and left for Scotland.
To put some context on this I had previously moved from Scotland where I was born. I moved down to Southern England at 19 where I lived there for 3 years. I had built a life for myself and now I was planning to rip myself away from this and go back to Scotland where all that was left for me was tumbleweed. This was the reality that I was facing. I was going to be facing a hard time. I needed to be closer to my family because I was ill and needed help.
The first to go was my sense of belonging. The hard-fought feeling that I belonged somewhere was stripped away from me and all that was left was a feeling of deep loss, a sense of grief that I couldn’t describe, something that I was desperately trying to cling onto but I couldn’t touch it because it wasn’t there anymore. I had left my childhood home long ago and most of those that I knew had moved on since then too – I was left with no-one. Just a deep sense of loss, and sadness.
After a few weeks, I began to miss my friends and my social life. Back home I was able to visit my friends when I was bored or had nothing to do. Here, I had nothing. Perhaps a friend that remembered me could stomach my presence long enough to be social with me, but we weren’t good friends. Not the type that mattered anyway. The few good friends I had left in Scotland were off at University and exploring their boundaries, and the times I was able to spend with them, thankful I am, but few and far between they were. I was out with my friends in England every god damn day and down at the pub mingling with the best. Up here I was lucky to see someone at least once a week if I was lucky. I’m not blaming my friends though, they were busy, they had lives too.
This is when I learned about depression, and the deep sadness and worthlessness it can feed. I didn’t always feel sad and worthless. At one point in my life, I could say I was someone, that I mattered, that I had a place in society. Now? I had no fucking clue. I was no-one. No-one cared, no-one knew I existed apart from my family. Perhaps I’ll just wither away silently and no-one will give two shits. Maybe I’ll have a funeral and it’ll just be Mum there, crying for her son that wasn’t for this life. His path was supposed to be different. Maybe it’ll be a good thing that I’m gone, it’ll ease the burden off everyone else.
Depression is a killer. I was only 22 then and I had already tried killing myself 3 times. It was from a time when there was only me and that damn TV in the house. There was no broadband internet back then. Nothing to numb the pain and send me into a dizzy spiral of sensory overload, no. It was just me and that fucking TV. I’ll never forget that year. I had nothing to do, no-one to speak with, and my Mum was out working for most of the day. I went from being the light and soul of the party to hermit in less than a month. The silence every day was deafening, depressing, worthless.
And I had no-one cheering me on. You see, depression isn’t something that you snap out of. It’s not something you get better from by a good shake, it’s a mind and body altering condition, and it can kill. I needed desperately for someone to believe in me, anyone. Just someone to come and give me a hug and tell me that, you know? You bloody well can do this! Everything will be ok.
Some sort of person to come along and be my cheerleading team. Cheerleading teams are an antidepressant — and boy have I had a few of them in my life. Those people that can look into your raw soul and see everything there is to know about you. Seek out that goodness, the diamonds in you, your shine, and pull it right the fuck out for the world to see. I needed that, but it didn’t happen until much later.
You see I had a drinking problem. I had worked out by now that I didn’t want to kill myself. 3 attempts later and it didn’t feel good — mentally or physically. So, I decided to screw myself up via alcohol. If I couldn’t end my life then I can make it so I could not feel another thing for the rest of my life. And thus began my heavier drinking stage. There was something inside me that just “broke” after my binge drinking session. I probably should have given up there and then. But I knew better of course. I was invincible back then, as we all are. I didn’t know at the time drinking is a catalyst for depression. Alcohol by definition is a “depressant” and it slowly paralyzes your central nervous system. Crazy, right? Here was me trying to solve my depression by using a depressant. Go figure.
Grief, loneliness, and underachievement were my Achilles heel. These three were the root of my depression. My Horcruxes so to speak. Once I tackled all three of them then I was able to heal. And heal I did. But it was a long drawn out process involving several professionals, lots of doctors visits, some amazing work colleagues, a beautiful and loving wife, and a loving son to finally get to a stage where I appreciate myself. We’re talking 18 years later. It’s not an easy ride. But talking, and involving other people did help. I got there in the end. Most aren’t as lucky as me.
If you’re reading this and it makes sense — don’t make the same mistake as I did and bottle it up! Talk to someone. A doctor, a good friend, anyone. It’s far better than keeping it inside like a dirty little secret.
Previously Published on Narrative