7 May 2015 – 1am in Suurbraak

I am scared.

I’m lying in bed, listening to the sounds of my girlfriend breathing next to me and the distant barking of what sounds like all the town dogs.

The fantastic double glazed sliding doors show me the moonlit outside but just enough detail to make me wonder what the shapes are.

I got up 5 minutes ago to check all the doors – the unfamiliar creaks of the house makes me listen to every sound.
It’s a relatively new feeling, this fear. And I only just realised it. I utter the words “I’m not scared of much” quite often but right now I’m scared. I don’t want to write down all the things my imagination has flipped through my built-in view master but I’m mostly a bit scared of every out there that I can’t see and I can’t decide if i should close my eyes or put on my glasses.

But the amazing realisation has been that I wasn’t scared for so many years because I didn’t care about what could happen. Yes, I used medication for depression but I was never scared of dying or of what could happen to me. Life was mostly about just putting on foot in front of the other. And I wasn’t scared.

But right now I’m scared because I have someone I love who is at her most vulnerable, asleep next to me. I’m scared because I’m excited about my life and I want to get to live it. So while I lay here watching for movement in the grey dark, I have a tiny smile on my face. I’m happy I get to be scared again.

The window

*disclaimer: I’m perfectly fine, I promise*

It’s a window that brings happiness to my room – crashing waves & laughing children.

It’s a narrow slit of a window but I can probably fit through it, taking care not to fall.

As I step through I’d flash back to the days in London where I’d slip under a sliding window and dangle my feet, while reading a book, 4 stories up. No one ever saw me.

They won’t see me here either. I’ll stand on the ledge – this one is almost a balcony without a railing – not the 20cm space I sat on in London. And the height would be pretty daunting. I’d probably sit down. Dangle my feet, trying to remember why I did it. I will hear children laughing and wonder why I stopped. I’d see the people on their phones and holding hands and walking together and I’d wonder why I always walk alone.

And I would be far from home so none of those who still care would see me, or have to find me.

I’d leave a note saying that I’m tired and tired of being lonely. My writing would be neat, my confidence would be in the tidy slant, the equidistant letters.

I’d leave a note apologising to the people who’d find me. I always try to be considerate.

And I would slip off the ledge. I’d fly at last, I’d feel freedom until I no longer feel.

I wonder if I would stay silent?
So the only sound would be the slap of my clothes on my body?
Would everything be quiet?

Would I remember one last thing I wanted to do? Or would I be grateful that I ticked this one off at last?

And when I hit the ground, would I split open on the places my skin has broken before? Or would I find new ways to break out of this skin that never really felt like mine?

Would cars block the street and people complain about the hold up? Would they feel momentarily guilty for complaining or would they deem me inconsiderate one last time?

Would my mom remember that I don’t want a church service? And would she think of asking my friend Charlene to do the talking? Would anyone but my close family come?

How long would it take for everyone who once cared to find out that I was gone? Would anyone wish they had called just one last time? Wish that I had asked for help? Would they call it a waste or would they call me selfish or that this was what I had always wanted?

But none of this will happen. I will wait for daylight one more time. Wait for the sun to fight back the dark thoughts. I will remind myself that the thoughts are irrational, that they are probably just hormonal and that it will get better.

And in the morning I will smile at the strangers, listen to the laughing children and wonder how it ever felt so bad.

I firmly close the window and turn the air conditioning on instead. Fresh air can kill you know.

Closing that tab

You know how people keep a gazillion browser tabs open so they can watch that video or read that article? Well, I don’t. I have the tabs open for whatever I’m working on, tweetdeck and usually facebook. The rest I read/watch/file away. But today I’ve been sitting with a tab open for a very long time. I can’t just close it. I desperately want to, but I can’t.

You see, it has the number for my psychologist. I need to see her, but part of me is absolutely terrified of taking on this next part of therapy. What if I can’t be a nicer person? What if I still can’t maintain relationships? What if I keep manipulating situations with people I’m in a relationship with?

I realise I have a shitload of history that has ingrained terrible habits. It’s a daily fight to stop the habits depression left me with. There’s that constant self doubt. The minute I’m wrong or criticised I doubt the value of my life. It’s a very, very difficult habit to break.

The constant feeling of just wanting to die is gone. It has been for a while. But the habits have stayed behind and they are proving so incredible hard to break.

I have been a terrible friend, a difficult partner & I want to change it.

I need to make this phone call now. To take that first step again, and it’s fucking terrifying.

 

* Please don’t tell me that I’ve not been a terrible friend, etc, I might get it right now & then. That doesn’t mean I didn’t fuck it up in a whole lot of other places.

That day

*POSSIBLE TRIGGER WARNING*

My mom & stepdad used to entertain a fair amount when I was still at school. This night there was one friend of theirs visiting. Charles was probably in his late 40’s? He was interesting. He was a great artist. I always wanted to learn to draw and he invited me to his house for lessons, but I never went.

None of the rooms in our house had locks.

I think it was winter, our family has a bit of a bath culture. We all read in the bath.

I told my mom I was going to take a bath, so that Charles would know to go to the other bathroom if he needed to.

I was reading in the bath when the door opened. He was drunk. He fumbled with his zipper and lurched in my direction. I shot up halfway, pulled my knees to my chest, my book covering what it could. He lurched back towards the toilet. I told him to get out. He turned his back to me. He said something to me. And pissed a strong, rank stream into the toilet. He stumbled back out of the bathroom.

I was frozen. I got my towel, and my things and went to my room. I got dressed and told myself he was drunk and just didn’t realise or forgot that I said I was going to be in that bathroom. I was shaking, but I got into bed, I pulled my duvet close up over my shoulders and kept reading on my stomach. Escaping into whatever it was I was reading.

The door to my room opened and closed behind him. He sat down on my bed. Half trapping me under the duvet. He put his hand on me, started stroking me and telling me what he wanted to do with me.

I was safe in my own bed, and then I wasn’t safe anymore. I managed to get up and out and I ran to my mom where she was sleeping already. I can’t remember anything other than shaking and crying in her arms.

***************

* I started this part late last year *

It was the first time we talked about it. We had to figure out how many years it had been We know I was around 15-17, so 15 to 17 years ago. I’m turning 32 in 5 weeks you see.

It was wine that got us there. My sister and her boys were here. My stepfather sleeps on the West Coast on some nights for work and then sometimes we get together – without him – and eat steak and mom’s famous potato pap. We finished a bottle or 2. My sister and the boys went home and mom and I finished the wine.

We love talking. We talk for hours about everything. We talked about the stepfather who got a reduced sentence because his stepdaughter didn’t try to stop him from raping her. My Mom was so outraged that a child couldn’t just go to her mom right there and then.

And I said “imagine you didn’t believe me when I told you what Charles S. did.” For the first time in many years, for the first time in all the years I said this to my mother. I could feel the tears. I held them back. I could feel myself shake my head side to side. Trying to hold on, to not let it get me. She told me how guilty she felt for not confronting him that night.

I remembered blaming her in the past for not chasing him out of the house. And she says:

Maybe it was God who held me back, because I would have shot him between the eyes. But I couldn’t leave you alone at that point.

And the one thing I remember clearly is holding on to my mom for dear life. She couldn’t have left me me for a second, I couldn’t be alone.

She tells me things I had forgotten beause I ask her for the details. I forgot so much. She remembers every single details. That he took my hat and my contact lenses. I had to make an effort to remember.

I hope this is the last time I have to remember.

**************

He lived in Wellington for many years after. I would see him as I cycled to school. His house was next to one of the main roads leading into town. Seeing him repeatedly triggered some of the worst fear I’ve ever encountered.

A few years ago his house was demolished. The orange rubble is slowly being covered by black eyed susans.

It’s beautiful now.

Never enough part 1

“You only get the one pill?”

This is what I hear every morning when the nurses hand out our meds after breakfast. And every morning I look at the palm full of pills the other patients take, and I wonder what the fuck I’m doing here. I’m clearly not sick enough, not depressed enough.

I once took all the pills I could find in my house, just because I couldn’t sleep. I wasn’t trying to die, I just didn’t want to be awake anymore. It worked for a good few hours but I woke up again.

“It was after my third suicide attempt”

I was talking to a friend about depression last night, and she said the above, just as part of what she was telling me. I responded with a story of my own – one I don’t care to share here, yet – and she said:

“I feel selfish about what I’ve gone through compared to what you as a 15 year old was forced into.”*

So we’re comparing shit parts of our lives, I don’t feel like I’m depressed enough, just because I haven’t made multiple attempts on my life. She feels selfish because her depression wasn’t ’caused’ by something specific.

How very fucked up is it that we feel we have to justify our depression. It’s a mental illness, we didn’t choose it. By sheer will/mindpower some are able to keep it in check without medication, but I can’t. I was just using medication, and I didn’t want to deal with the contributing factors so I didn’t go to regular therapy and all of that culminated in a collapse, a break down.

It’s like I needed to restart my life in safe mode. I’m in a safe space, with little stress, little responsibilities and I get to address those things I’ve been hiding in my head.

Admitting myself to a recovery clinic has possibly been the best thing I’ve done in my life. Admitting that I couldn’t keep all the balls up in the air anymore. Admitting that I’m just human, and learning to ask for help.

Best gift I’ve given myself, ever.

* I promise it’s not what you think it is.