Note: This is an older piece that I have briefly edited and cleaned up.
The story of how my human was broken
My human was doing quite well for himself. Nothing remarkable, but middling feels like the correct word. He had worked since leaving school, sometimes in shite jobs, sometimes not, but he had always worked. He had been made redundant from a job and decided to go it alone. This would not be the wisest thing that he ever did, but humans learn from mistakes, and it has made him a better person in many ways. However, what it also made him, what still frustrates and annoys him, was that this started his descent into a pit of madness. We decided we’d be completely open and honest in opening up about this. There will be times when my human was an arse; there will be times when he was not particularly likeable. You should know that before we begin, you should understand that this is raw and open. You should also know that I ended up with him, so in the end, all is well… sort of.
Now we will commence. I worked from school, as I have said, and was a complete arse. I am not even talking about minor things here; I was a bully in school, and then I continued to be the same outside of school in my ‘adult’ life. I looked after myself and only myself. I was not on the political level of narcissism, but I was not likeable. I’d have disagreed at the time, but now I would not. I tell you this to paint a fuller picture, many would argue it’s karma, and maybe that is true. There is a particular element of that at times in the universe, as I am sure you have all experienced. So, not a nice guy. You may get to the end of this and decide he got what he deserved; maybe you are right. Perhaps you are not; who can know?
The first job comes and goes, the second follows, and the third arrives. The third I was good at the third I enjoyed. I excelled at it. I was with the company for some time and was overall well liked. There was one person, we shall call Roger, who suffered from stress. Nobody can tell you how harmful stress can be; one person can deal with it, but the tiniest amount breaks another. I could deal with it; I could not understand how someone could struggle. I never went to some people’s lengths and proclaimed, “just pull yourself together,” but it did cross the synapses of my mind. I still have no idea how bad it was for Roger; I can only empathise from afar now that I understand. I hope he is doing well; I suspect he has since retired.
We climb the ladder; you must hit the peaks before descending. A climb comes before a fall. I had to hit my summit, and I did in opening my own business. Same trade; I just did it myself, and it was a disaster. That is not entirely true; it went okay for a while but plummeted like a metaphoric stone telling us of the future. We shall skip the excuses, the why, what, and how. It is tedious and mostly irrelevant. The business failed, as did my mental health. So we start our fall.
First came the bills, a common enough tale. I had pushed to keep things going, and when the house of cards finally fell, I was in the shit. Many people would not have considered it a significant debt, it was not, but it was still enough to push night and day. This is not just a worry that “stresses you out”. This is a scream that starts from the moment you wake. Continues throughout the day and then continues to plague you when you go to bed. When you finally fall asleep, you wake up, and the torture continues. Then you look at the clock and realise you have only slept for a few hours. So as we build a recipe of despair, let’s throw sleep deprivation into the mix; the bowl of human madness has room. A few years passed, and I took a few jobs that never seemed to last. I did freelance work, dabbling in the family trade of (re)upholstery. Things were awful, and the stress never left, but I managed them as best I could.
As time passed, something else crept into my life. At first, I did not notice it like a tide drifting towards it was slow and steady, maybe. It could have just been the stress occupying my mind, so it shadowed the creeping mist. It could have been all this and more; I won’t pretend to understand the human psyche. It suddenly dawned that I had not been outside for a long time other than that of my partner; I had no human interaction, nor had I sought it. And do you know what? This did not bother me. This is the slithering of agoraphobia. It slid unnoticed; my partner was happy to continue what she did, so neither of us commented. It just crawled into my life. Imagine, if you will, that you go outside and all is fine on a Monday; Tuesday, you try to go out, and you freeze. This is not just a slight scare but a terror that grips you and won’t let you go. Chilling you from the centre of your brain, shooting to your feet and freezing them in place. It is an irrational fear until you experience it; then, in that split second, it becomes perfectly rational. Suddenly the monster that scares you is not under your bed waiting to grab your feet; it is in your head and has already grasped them. When I make it outside, on those rare occasions, it can be freezing, and I will still sweat like a fat dude that has run a marathon without any training or practice.
Ever darker now, we shall drop heading to the bottom, to the lowest of lows. We shall now fall into anxiety. If anything annoys me the most, I think it is this one. I can cope to some extent with the stress. The agoraphobia generally is manageable when I am somewhere my mind sees as a ‘safe place’. However, this one is unavoidable and was unmanageable for a while. Many people will say that they are worriers; many of us are. I cannot, nor would not, say that any of them are better or worse than I am. I worried about everything, from the tiniest little thing to the most considerable thing. I think everyone worries to a degree; it is the degrees that make us all different.
If the letterbox goes, I flinch.
If the telephone rings, I wince.
If I don’t hear from someone, I panic.
And on and on. You get the idea. Everything and anything will cause me to worry. Even now, as I am sitting here writing this, I am worrying. It is entirely and utterly maddening. I have nothing to worry about, yet here I am; my mind is racing with different thoughts. Juggling forty-two other things trying not to drop one. What if this, what if that. It never ever stops. Continuous repetitive infuriating tinnitus of fear statically hissing in my head all the time. A record that skips back and forth between one section, and I cannot turn it off. With help, though, I can lower the volume.
Until this point, you are seeing the fall. You are watching my mind tumble into the darkness. We have not hit the dark yet; we are still falling in a light from above, lit by sanity and normality. That all changes here; this is where we lose that light. No light from the tunnel’s start, and no light can be seen from the end, if it exists at all.
I will bang on about politics relentlessly; I can rant about it day and night. I have probably been more mouthy and opinionated about Labour when they were in power, as I feel they should do better. The Tories, well, are Tories; they do what you expect them to do. I do not want to go into that here; no more than is needed. This is about me, not about them. I do have to feature them because they lead to the depths. I had been signed off for a while with the illnesses above and depression. When the Tories came to power, they “reformed” the social security system, and for the first time in my life, I was pushed close to the edge. I know it was not as bad as I remember it, but I cannot think of it any differently. My mind tells me it is impossible, but I remember daily phone calls from the DWP. Letters are dropping continuously through the letterbox, all pushing for me to go back to work. I like to work; I would be working now if I could get a job I could do at home and would accommodate my ‘quirks’. I want to work, but I remember this being ruthless. The pushing, the questions, the letters, the demands and I broke.
I shattered into pieces, a hammer dropping onto the fragile but brilliant muscle (yes, I know it is not) that is the brain. It completely broke me. I would wake up and worry. The worrying led to me pacing, and the pacing and worrying led to me being snappy about things. It leads to hair loss, takes you to the unforgiving world of constant headaches, and finally, holds your hand and guides you to thoughts of self-harm. When I was treated, I would wake, worry, consider killing myself, pace about, and then lie in bed until I finally fell asleep. Then the cycle repeats, day after day, week after week and month after month. I have a lot that I could say about my ex. However, I cannot even start to understand how she and the children dealt with me. The local mental health team got involved and (re)diagnosed me with anxiety, agoraphobia, stress and depression. I would have been committed had it not been for the agoraphobia and my partner saying she would look after me. They told me this at the time and have told me since. I was millimetres from commitment, and the agoraphobia saved me from that; they thought it would make me worse. They visited weekly at first, then fortnightly and finally monthly. I was treated at home and have been prescribed a mixture of pills that I am still on to this day. They turn the volume down, dim the lights, and make everything dark.
Eighteen hundred words, and we are approaching the bottom. Nearly there; it is pitch black now. We can see nothing. If you have stuck around, then I thank you. If not, then you won’t see this, so ha fuck you.
The depths, the bottom, places where we never want to be. I have mentioned my partner, and I have mentioned the good. We now hit the worse. I will not dwell too much on this, as it is still painful. She was my carer and my appointee, and everything went through her. She would, for example, collect my medication. I know not when, but she started talking to someone online at some point. You have to remember that while I am in no mood to defend her that you only hear my side, you only see one side of the coin. She told me they had not issued my prescription and that she was dealing with it. I was off my medication for about six weeks, and one night, we argued. Nothing major, I am a pretty calm guy, but we argued. She packed up and all bar one occasion I have not seen her or the children since.
Bang, we have hit bottom. We have smashed into the very deepest depths and are now just waiting. Waiting for what happens next. I did not know where to go. I did not know what to do; I did not know whom to speak to. Whereas the first time I had needed them, the local mental health team were faultless; they were superb. This time they offered next to no support, a few telephone calls. I do not blame them, and I cannot stress that enough. They have had budgets cut to the bone, shuffling of departments and more “reforms”. I do not, never have and never will blame them. I have to do something; I am drowning here in my well of sorrow. I drink, I cry, and I sleep. That’s it; I am a mess.
I phone the doctors, and then I find that my prescription has been issued; it has not been collected. I have two months’ worth waiting for me, so I arranged to have that delivered. I still cry, I still drink, and I sometimes sleep. Some days I am out until early the next morning. Literally leaving the pub when they kick me out. At three in the morning, staggering home, falling into bed and waking, then at eleven, starting again. I’ve run up credit cards; I am not eating; I am just existing, floating in my gloom. I can’t tell you how I survived. I have no idea. I want to say the pills kicked in, and as I rattled and drank, I returned to some kind of normality, but that isn’t it. I’d still cry, sleep and drink even after those had the time to kick in. I can’t say it was my partner or my children as I have still not seen them, nor do I know where they are. The partner I could not give a shite about, the children, though, not a day passes when I do not think of them. Meeting Lilith again (we had known each other before) helped, but I was over the worse by then.
She though, and this is important, helped me climb. She helps me all the time. No matter how low or far you fall, it does not matter how deep you get. There is always someone. You have to hold on to that in those darkest moments. It won’t feel like it, and you may break and shatter. You’ll look at things and see blackness, but it will happen. You have to believe that. I wouldn’t have, so I do not expect you to, I want to plant a seed, and I hope if you made it this far, it would grow if needed. The bottom of the fall is water; seeds sprout in water. If you do fall, let that seed grow and remember.