Thursday, 16 January 2014

Some Background Is In Order (Pt 1)

Before I begin with writing my (hopefully) daily posts, I want to open my heart out to you, whoever you are and where ever you may be in the world. I'm writing this to help me and to add my little bit of awareness to the world.

My name is Elton. I have clinical depression and have done for seventeen years. I'm 37 and I am married with a beautiful, clever five year old daughter from a previous, unhealthy relationship. She can already speak two languages, Welsh and English. At five. I did say that she was clever! 
I was married on a stunning, unusually warm July day in north west Wales, UK and it was the happiest day of my life.  My wife is the most beautiful woman I have ever met, inside and out and the only person to have ever truly understood me and support me, no matter how bad things have been or will be.

I come from a very unstable and insecure upbringing, and am one of eight; five brothers and two sisters - only one brother from the same father. Like I said, unstable. I will perhaps elaborate more on this as the diary develops, as I intend to add history here and there. My 'father' left when I was around four, I think so I grew up with no authority figure or an example to follow.

Hanging around with my brothers was never healthy, as I wanted to keep out of trouble, so I became a loner, often having my nose in a book or out bird watching. All before I was ten years old. In fact, my first book was a huge book; "The Birds of Britain and Europe", bought for me on one of my birthdays by my wonderful Aunty Jean. 
That's not to say I never got into trouble, jeez I was a little tyke a lot of the time! (You may want to Google 'tyke' if you're not from the UK!) To be honest, I remember very little of my childhood and feel as though I missed out on it. More another time. I'm trying to keep this short!

I was sent away into care on two occasions, and to this day I still do not know why and even my own mother denies this; not something a child easily forgets! This was obviously very damaging for me and probably led to my fear of abandonment in adulthood, amongst other things. I was never that badly behaved that it was justified; some of my brothers were up to all sorts of trouble.

From a very young age I wanted to be a soldier, so when I was sixteen, I joined the Corps of Royal Engineers on 9th September 1992 and I started a short, but fantastic career in the Army. I had to grow up very fast. To be honest, I loved it as I channeled all my anger towards my family into the work, especially the physical stuff; I was good at everything and always pushed myself through the pain of the many 'beastings' we all endured. But it made me very fit and allowed me to forget about home; the Army was my home now and I never got the urge to call my family. Although I was picked on and bullied for being good at things; they were just jealous. I never made any close friends. 
After four years, I was given a medical discharge for a developing knee injury that was incredibly painful. I was devastated. I never got over it, and still haven't as it was all I wanted.

So I left. And ended up in loads of dead end, crappy jobs year in, year out. Mostly in customer service, working in shops. I hated it with a passion. It was around this time that I realised something may not be right with me. I must have been about twenty. I even had a goth phase; all black clothes and bats following me around at night! I must have looked like shit. I certainly felt it. I had zero self-esteem and no friends. I was lonely, always.

I craved to be with someone and this led to a number of ill fated relationships, as I was in them for the wrong reasons and they just became emotionally damaging. But I always wanted more; I was never happy, not ever. The Army had ensured that my own standards were never high enough, unobtainable-goal-post-moving standards. I hated it and it led me to be a ridiculous perfectionist, so I put pressure on myself constantly to be the best at everything and if I wasn't, I was branded a failure by my own mind. I am still like this today, although I am glad to be settled with my wife, as I had never known real, true love until I met her.

I started to have really big mood swings that I just could not control and panicked over silly little things and getting myself so worked up I would end up in knots, sobbing on the floor. It was, and still is, the worst kind of pain; it just gnaws away at you so intensely and you feel utterly powerless and unable to control what you are feeling. I would not wish this on my worst enemy. Most of the time, during these manic episodes, you cannot even understand what you are thinking as there are countless emotions circling around in your head like a whirlwind and I always just end up in a deep, dark hole. 
It was during these times that I wanted to hurt myself. That's right, physically. Self harm. Wishing to die, blah, blah all the usual cliches. I suffered so much intense pain, I could not bear it and could not, would not, take it out on people who may have been close to me at the time. The irony of that statement is the fact that it also hurts those close to you, because it is a selfish act. I've tried to end it a couple of times, usually when the manic period stops very briefly and you have a whiff of calm so that I could calculate how I would do it.

When I really meant it, it was with pills. First time with ibuprofen, that failed. Second time was a mixture of my fluoxetine anti-depressants and half a packet of paracetamol; I never knew that I couldn't OD on anti-depressants! I collapsed at home and my girlfriend at the time called the ambulance. I felt incredibly ill and genuinely felt as though I was fading away; it was a nice feeling at first. I was rushed to York Infirmary, but thankfully, I had not taken enough paracetamol; but I endured a whole night and half a day of the most incredibly painful stomach cramps I have ever had, as the acids generated from the painkillers devoured my stomach lining; hospitals had stopped the practice of stomach pumping, so I had to let it leave naturally. The pain occurred every ten minutes and I remember mentally preparing myself, to endure it each time. I was screaming so loud. For some reason, my Mum turned up and I felt nothing towards her; this was when I challenged her about my fostering and she denied it flatly. I lost my Mum at that point. She also brought along my two younger sisters, in their very early teens at the time. Great sight for them to see!

I continue to have manic episodes, that are usually preceded by an intense, negative emotion. It could be guilt, anger, fear, loss, frustration and many more feelings that threaten to slowly kill me. I have not hurt myself since 2007 and this was at the end of a very fast moving relationship that lasted about six weeks. 'Normal' people would just move on, but a seriously depressed person cannot do this as you do not have the power of will to control and deal with these deadly emotions; this one was rejection and abandonment.
The following day, I was in a state, but I somehow got myself out of bed to go to work. But before I did, I was frantically racing around the house, not knowing what to do or even where to stand; I was an absolute, emotional train wreck. 
I got the idea to hurt myself, to give me that release of chemicals in the brain to give that all to brief moment of respite. [You may find this upsetting]. I went into the kitchen and grabbed the bread knife. I wondered out loud, 'What the fuck are you doing!?' and continued to pace frantically about. I couldn't take any more so I pulled my shorts right leg up, and slashed it, hard across my thigh, twice. It cut deep, I screamed out, but the brief relief was wonderful. It didn't bleed at first, so as I didn't want my landlady to see the bread knife that did have blood on it, I threw it in my work bag, without thinking. Idiot.

Rather casually, I jumped on my bike for the 5 mile cycle to the office, with blood just rushing down my leg into my shoe; I was naturally greeted with lots of stares from drivers and pedestrians. I arrived at the office, locked up my bike and attempted to hide the blood. My boss saw it straight away (he knew my plight and about my depression) and literally dragged me out of sight. He looked at my leg and just called me an idiot, whilst I just sobbed. An ambulance came and took me to York Infirmary with another colleague. They asked if I had any sharp objects in my bag. Shit. The knife. I couldn't believe how stupid I'd been! I couldn't lie and told the paramedic. Naturally, the colleague spread this around the office as soon as he went back. Wanker. I could have sued the company for a serious breach of my confidentiality.
After I left hospital, I had to go and get my bike from the office, but I wasn't allowed in. I was made to feel like a criminal who had intentionally came to work with an offensive weapon, with a view to using it!? 'I'm not a fucking criminal!' I shouted at the security guard. But it wasn't his fault, just doing his job and after all, I was emotionally unstable. I just wanted to get my bike and leave, nothing more. Which I eventually did.

I was suspended, and kept my job by the skin of my teeth thanks all to my boss, Dave.

Everything changed after that. I had to go back to work, with the entire office knowing what had happened. Everybody staring. Avoiding me. I had a good reputation in the office, always had and everybody who I worked with always had time for a chat. Not any more. This damaged me further. I was on show; a goldfish in a very small bowl with nowhere to hide.

I needed to leave, and not just the office. The job. York. Everything. So I did.

It's 2:30 in the morning now, so I will add further to this tomorrow. The people who matter who have read this, won't mind and to those that do mind, you don't matter to me. I don't need people like you in my life.

'Till later on folks.

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