It probably looked like something out of a movie.
[A man lays on a hotel bed – visibly broken – with a fistful of strong painkillers in one hand and a bottle of whiskey in the other. The only distraction from his dark thoughts is the silent TV flickering in the corner of the room. He’s already been drinking all day, trying to work out how to get out of the hole he’s found himself in — but now he’s considering adding the drugs to the mixture and making the move a permanent one.
There’s no real trigger, but something makes him drop the pills and pick up his phone instead…]
That was me on the 26th July 2013. I’m not the strongest-willed person in the world, and that’s probably why I copped out of going through with ‘it’. But it was the years leading up to this moment that made me feel as weak as I felt that evening. My relationship with a friend had turned toxic. A recent move back to Cardiff from London hadn’t resulted in cutting them out of my life as I’d hoped. I’d been beaten (mentally and physically) for years which had led me to this moment.
I’d kept everything bottled up because, y’know, “that’s what blokes do”. But not talking about it was affecting my current relationship, my work and my bank balance – something had to be done.
I’m usually the first person to moan at anyone who hangs out their dirty laundry on social media, but that’s exactly what I did when I picked up the phone. I had flicked through my contacts but literally had no idea who I wanted to speak to there and then. Not my partner – she’d have had enough of my moping. Mum? No chance – not now. So, I just put it out there — without going into too much detail, I typed a quick plea for help including where I was and posted it to Facebook.
Too consumed by booze to think straight, I walked out of the hotel and just sat and waited. Well-wishers replied to the message hoping that I was OK and sorry they weren’t around to come and see me. But within a few minutes, a friend I barely ever saw to speak to came wandering down the street in my direction – he’d seen the message. He pulled us up a chair each and asked what was up.
And I told him.
Words that I hadn’t been able to say for years just came flowing out. More people turned up and with each arrival, I felt my mood and the weight on my shoulders lifting. It might not have been the best way to look for help, but it came in droves. By the end of the evening, I was surrounded by 20-odd friends all doing their best to turn the worst night of my life into one of the best.
The process of repairing myself after that evening was a slow one. The initial release of being able to talk about my depression was great, but it doesn’t go away just like that. But learning that talking to someone about it rather than keeping it inside was a lesson which literally saved my life.