It was a horrible time.
Saturday afternoon, the sun was out, bringing a mild early spring twang to a mid February weekend. As far as I was concerned, however, it was dark, dark, and more dark.
The group therapy hadn’t had the effect I needed so far, and my problems were intensifying. After at last seeing my girlfriend, and sharing tender moments the weekend before, back to no calls, no texts, no e-mails, nothing. She was tearing me apart.
The other things, the debts, the lack of paid work, and other affairs of the heart, the drifting away and erosion of my self belief, my self-esteem, my reasons for carrying on, were getting to me.
I sat on my sofa, dressed in nothing but a fluffy blue bathrobe, tears streaming down my face as yet another suicidal thought entered my mind, asking myself if the world would be better off without me. And, of course, coming to the conclusion that it would.
There was nobody to speak to about this internal agony ripping me apart, yet I knew that I needed help right that moment. I considered going to A & E. No, don’t be stupid, that’s for people who really need help.
I needed it, of course, but in my scarily depressed state, I dismissed it as taking the place of someone whose need was greater than mine. When you’re that distressed, as far as you’re concerned, everyone else is a worthier case, too.
I had my laptop on idly. I found being lost to pointless google searches to back up an opinion with Facebook arguments as a good way to fill up each agonising second of consciousness. The fact it made me feel worse and worse was lost on me.
Anyway, my mind, and keyboard fingers, wandered to something I’d seen on train ads. On tv commercials. I’d never even given it a second thought until then.
As far as I was concerned, Samaritans were some creepy do-gooding service, vaguely connected to Christianity. A view formed on the basis of a sketchy recollection of a Scripture story at primary school and a short lived storyline in a soap opera.
Here they were though, on my information superhighwebnet contraption. I still have a real aversion to phones. So there was no way at that point I was going to ring them. Through my tears, I hoped and maybe even prayed there was a contact form. They won’t have it, though, I know they won’t. Everybody knows you have to ring them. No, just no. This is torture.
What my streaming eyes hid for a while, though, was in bold letters on the front page, next to a grim looking face – “Contact us now.” I do so. Next screen, in my addled state, was the nightmare of a phone number to ring. I winced and sobbed a little more.
Then below that, a smaller pic of a stern, unhappy person, but had the magic words:
At last, something to cling on to, a hint of a spark of a light at the end of a hellishly long tunnel. Through big, fat, warm tears, I slowly sat and let another Saturday afternoon in the outside world go by, while I typed up all my woes.
I wasn’t able to convey just how deeply I was hurting, words were inadequate to describe it, but at least ‘Jo’ may have an idea of my torment. It also felt like a tiny weight was lifted, being able to articulate how I felt other than by playing things in my mind over and over again.
I never expected a reply, hope but never expected, as I knew there will be far more worthy, deserving cases to use their services. All that’s wrong with me is that I’m useless and over-dramatising it. I can wait.
Except the next day Jo did indeed write back. Delighted at someone simply paying attention to me, I replied. Jo had obviously read what I’d written, and asked questions about my situation. Jo also told me this:
“It’s good that you can be honest regarding your suicidal
thoughts and also that you recognise that you need help to
change your mind set.
We’re here to support you while you’re feeling so low.”
That, more than anything else, was the catalyst for walking away from the brink. Whoever Jo was, however many different people ‘Jo’ may be, I felt there was someone on my side, wanting me to get better. Not just another name on a therapy list being ticked off.
The e-mails kept coming and going between us. Day by day, very gradually, my mind was digging itself out of the deep hole it was in. Without the encouragement and empathy of Jo, it would have taken a far, far longer time to set off on my road to recovery. In all probability, I wouldn’t have set off at all. Suicidal and alone is a mix you never want to find yourself in.
Because of Jo, because of that organisation I thought cranky, maybe a little creepy, I had come through a deep, dark time. I’m not saying it with any certainty, but there was every possibility that mild February Saturday afternoon the Samaritans saved yet another life.
Thank you Jo.