Friday. Therapy day. Right, let’s get this over with. That may have been my previous thoughts. Today, though, it’s different. Friday. Therapy day. Let’s see what today brings. The world may not be my oyster just yet but I can see the shellfish stalls in the distance.
I’ve gone through mental hell. Now I’m coming out of the other side. Depression, anxiety, stress, suicidal thoughts, it’s all been there. Unfit to do my job – my first paid one for five years and so, so much voluntary work. No income, rising bills. That I could perhaps all of dealt with. Certainly if one at a time.
What tipped me over was the girlfriend. Whether by design or fault, she’s ripped my heart out of me and thrown it away. No bitterness though. I still love her, even though it’s over. It’s the being over, though, that made life unbearable.
Not today though. Today is a good day. Spring is in the air, there’s a spring in my step. I wander by tennis courts and see the senior citizens having their fun. Must look up that tennis club. I’d like the exercise. It’d help me so much.
Onwards. I’ve never walked this way to the therapist before. In fact I’ve never been in this part of town. Time ticks towards the appointment start. Of which I have no idea. Left my mobile at home, and have been doing for a while. I somehow feel liberated without it.
And lost. A slight panic overcomes me. What was I thinking of? I’ll be late. Then, for some reason, came a thought. ‘So what?’ I smile in the mildness of the spring sunshine. It doesn’t matter how I get there, so long as I do.
Just which way though? Right or straight ahead up a steep hill? At the very moment I wonder, it falls before me. On the uphill road. A petal. A beautiful one at that. I have no idea from what tree but my smile becomes broader. I pick it up. As a metaphor it’s perfect. I wander on that uphill road.
My sense of adventure, of freedom – and believe me, when you’ve stayed indoors for a week because you’re so screwed up, that’s exactly what it is – has paid dividends. A beautiful detour has led me to within a few hundred yards of the therapist. Must remember that route. So I can use another one the next time.
The therapist, Lesley, has clearly seen an improvement in me. Her smile is warm as she leads me in. Dark hair, just past her shoulders, big dark eyes too, and a lovely smile. I’m too old for this transference lark though. I’m at the age where I can see a good looking woman in front of me but not have any lewd thoughts quite comfortably.
The hour or so flies by. We talk a little about what’s on a form, answer some questions, but a lot of it is anecdotal, veering off at a tangent, and even a giggle or two. I explain to her how the Spice Girls have helped (that’s for another time) and she’s genuinely impressed. Lesley may be the professional therapist but I can also do a bit of body language reading.
“A couple of weeks ago, I could see the lack of self confidence wrapped around you.” She uses her hands to show something pounding on her chest, signifying what I was doing to myself. “But I can see such a difference, such a change, it’s really good to see.” She smiles. I do, too, almost embarrassed by the moment.
How did I get here though? To this place where I’m going for jobs and getting interviews I’ve no right to even consider. Where I have places like Tesco ringing me up, sending me stuff, apologising. Where I’ve worn down Eon, demanding an outrageous amount, simply not caving in to their pressure. Where I look upon my girlfriend, at long last, as my ex-girlfriend, and anticipating the next helping from the food of love. Where life is, at last, getting better.
As you know by now, it was via a petal of a tree. “That’s a magnolia tree that came from”, Lesley confirmed, “I’ve got one at home.” As the session ended, feeling as good about myself as I’ve been for some time, I said goodbye and then, smiling yet again “Give my love to the magnolia tree.”
And that’s how this came to pass. I’ve gone through a dark, dark, phase of my life. Places my mind has taken me I never believed existed, the misery, the suicide plans, the feeling of hopelessness, the knowledge, not just the thought but the knowledge, that the world would be a better place without me.
Gone through it though. Gone through it. Gone. Thanks to Lesley, thanks to that magnolia tree, thanks to therapy, and thanks most of all to the power of my own mind, I’m on the way back to where I want to be. Tennis player, driving test passer, do-er, achiever, lover.
What do I want to achieve with this though? I’m going to talk about my dark days. Unbearably dark at times. They may strike a chord with you. Or you may notice the same thing with a friend, family member, or other loved one. If it makes just one person feel just a tiny bit better, that will in turn make everyone around them feel better. Suddenly, one person becomes many. My job will have been done.
And today’s happy ending? Well, that Magnolia petal, it didn’t last long in the clutches of my hand. But on the way home, I picked up a gull feather, for no other reason than remembering a good walk home if something great comes up, with the magnolia petal already fading away.
Within a few hundred yards of home, and then a few minutes of getting there, something small but great does. I find a fiver on the pavement. Then when I get home, a second interview for a job.
Sometimes, life is good.