I promised that I would try to tell of my experiences and how I came to be where I am now. It sounds so much like one of those X Factor ‘I’m on a kind of journey’ things doesn’t it?
For me though it’s very real and not just something to gawp at via a plasma screen. This part of my ‘journey’, is harrowing for me but I’ll try to tell it as best I can.
It had been a rotten Christmas. I found out on Christmas Eve that one of my old friends had passed away. Not one of your everyday, go for a coffee, see you at the parents evening, casual friend.
No, he was the sort that helped you out no matter what. The type of guy who drove 200 miles just to hand deliver your birthday card. The type that if you rang up, out of the blue, penniless and in trouble, dropped everything and got you through it.
Our friendship had spanned the decades at a variety of places in the UK but generally in the North East of England. Plenty of drunken afternoons and nights were spent. And now he was gone.
Not only that, to my shame, I only just found out that he had gone. He had passed away in November. He was on my Facebook link, had shared a drink and a night of chatting with him not too long ago. How the hell had I missed it all?
I not only grieved for him, I felt shame for not knowing sooner, and not therefore being able to give any comfort to those who had spent a month mourning his loss. It felt dreadful.
Christmas came and passed uneventfully. I stayed in, with my friend’s birthday card he hand delivered to me up among the meagre decorations. No money meant no going out. My son spent his in his home with my ex. It was a quiet and depressing festive season.
No matter. New Year just around the corner. I’d happily arranged to pick my son up from his local train station, as he was skint, to stop over with me for the night before he saw 2014 in drunkenly with his buddies. Rightly so!
I turned up at 1pm as arranged. Which turned to 1.30pm. Then to 2pm. I rang his home. My ex said he’d said nothing. I was heartbroken and returned home.
What I had waiting for me when I arrived home was a Facebook message saying he wouldn’t turn up at the station until 4pm at the earliest, way after I’d left to collect him.
I now didn’t have the money to go back once more, collect him and return home again. I was heartbroken, and also sad that his friends were more important to him than I was. I guess I was the same at that age though, so there was no anger, just that sadness.
Anyway, New Years Eve came and at least my girlfriend would cheer me up. We’d known each other for five years, been seeing each other for two, shared hundreds of thousands of loving texts, and innumerable days and nights together. She really was ‘the one’.
She’d started a new job in November and I had seen a bit less of her. Still, those green eyes, full of warmth, her chestnut hair, sense of fun, and infectious smile stayed in my mind, keeping the embers going until the next time.
I sent her a number of texts, saying how things were, like we usually do. Nothing. Ah well, must be busy. A couple of hours later another one sent. Zip. Another a few hours later. And a phone call. No reply, no response. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
I sat, a feeling of despair enveloping me, then sloped off to bed way before midnight, having been rejected by the two people I loved the most, the two people I’d gladly give up my life for. I turned off the lights, and put the tablet on my bedside.
On the tv app, one channel was running a whole series of Doctor Who to see me into 2014. I know the series was one with David Tennant. Other than that the details are scarce. For me it was a comforting background sound and vision and nothing else.
As the night wore on, all I could think of was my boy not meeting up, and my girlfriend not so much as speaking to me. It must be me. I must be someone truly awful to make them turn away.
As the clock ticked down to midnight, tears streamed down my face as I lay in bed. Unemployable, in poverty, in debt, without a soul in the world. I was miserable beyond belief.
I could hear the fireworks outside as 2013 finally became 2014. I couldn’t see them though. My eyes were smudged with tears, my mind and soul tortured by the week I’d just endured. Only The Doctor could save me. Just take me away to a parallel universe. Or any universe. Anywhere but here.
I eventually passed out, crying myself to sleep. My self worth was through the floor. But something kicked in. As I contemplated the first breakfast of 2014 – a cup of water – my first thought was “This isn’t right.”
It wasn’t, either, was it? My next thought was “This can’t go on. Go and see your GP”. Eventually, I sent another message to my girlfriend, telling her how I cried myself to sleep.
Apparently she was ill with a flu virus. She came to see me as soon as she could, three days later. And she really wasn’t well at all, coughs and snuffles abounding. What an idiot I had been.
And, in retrospect, she did me a favour. The situation may have been, eventually, over-reaction on my part. It highlighted, however, how deeply depressed I had been.
All those days and weeks just staying in, not doing anything, brooding over my faults, my self-esteem getting lower and lower. To my mind, though, that was just being normal. It had become that too. Until that fateful New Year’s Eve.
I may not have got The Doctor. But in the end I did get help. And if you have felt even 1% of what I did, you get help too.