My worst day to date

I have had many up and down days, but one sticks in the mind as my worst feeling night ever. For obvious reasons when I look back…

Last year I found out I didn’t have the balls to kill myself. Rightly or wrongly, that’s how I look at it. I was minded to do it; I was there… I was probably a six inch step from doing it. And when it came down to it… I didn’t have the brassicles.

The picture is still as clear today as it was then. Stood over the m5, car precisely parked next to the metal railing and phone in hand. I had worked it out. This was the best way to do it. No choice once the difficult first step was made and hopefully quick and, other than one huge instant of pain no doubt, simple. It was dark, and I could see car and lorry lights approaching from a fair distance down the sloping carriageways that led from from the award winning split level motorway section by Portishead.

I remember that point well, a man i used to lift share with told me all about the history of that particular section of motorway and it’s architectural importance. ‘Its an award winning stretch of motorway’, the bearded genius would tell me. It was the first time I’d thought of his voice for some years… strangely his would be one of the last thoughts I’d have if I went through with this.

I’d got to this point by a rather sudden explosion of a situation when I slept. I’d had an affair and though we had decided to continue our marriage my wife was understandably still nervous about my behaviour. Strangely, this would come to a head whilst I’m asleep.

The lady in question was a colleague and had started a new role. It was her first evening in this role that night and I had helped her to be successful in getting the job. So, whilst I slept she sent me a number of messages and pictures of her starting in her role. These constant vibrations caused my wife to be curious and so accessed my phone.

I awoke to find my wife staring at me and she rightly was angry. I was shocked, not quite sure what was going on but packed my things and left, upset and still quite unsure of what had just happened.

I got in the car and looked at my phone. Sure our relationship was done for and having recently questioned my worth a lot, I decided tonight was the night.

I had thought about this more and more. I had decided some time ago most people would be better off without me, that my contribution to most people’s lives was negative or non existent and i recall thinking the phrase ‘my absence would probably increase social productivity’. Even now I don’t know quite what I meant, but it convinced me.

So, I drove directly to the motorway junction and decided I would be directly jumping. But there were a few things I needed to sort first.

The car – I didn’t want the key to be taken from me and it be all messy and problematic. So I placed it carefully behind the inside of the rear wheel.

Notifying family – I wanted my wife to get the car before it may be stolen, so I scribed a text ready to send at the point of jumping… saying words to the effect of…

I’m so sorry. I won’t be causing you any more hurt anymore. I have placed the car key behind the rear wheel and it is parked at put motorway junction. I’m so sorry.

The most crucial part of this for me was the car key. I was obsessed with it. With this sorted I now had decided to establish my method and once sorted do it quickly, pressing send as I passed the railing and throwing the phone backwards as I did. I didn’t want it to smash, it had photos on there.

I looked at the oncoming traffic and started to think. What if there were kids in the cars? I’d spent many days in the months before working through the logic of suicide and what makes people do it, then how someone would do it. And from that I’d decided if I ever was minded I’d want quick and out of my control. But I didn’t want to ruin some kids life because they saw a crazy man smash their windscreen. So I decided a lorry. A business vehicle. That way they would be adult and more likely to detach this as a work thing and get past the experience. It made sense to me anyway. So I looked at lorries. I decided I needed to wait until a lorry passed with minimal traffic around. I wanted to upset as few people as possible.

With my method secure I approached the railings. About 3 ft of railing stood between me and what I believed would be my social responsibility. I sorted phone in hand and took a step upwards. There were horizontal beams that I stepped up and I was settled on the middle looking at the vehicles approaching. Pondering whether the drivers had appreciated the significance of the motorway stretch from which they had just emerged, I saw my one. An Argos lorry. I saw it approaching and went to take one more step upwards. As I did My foot slipped. For a split second I thought I was falling over the rail and my moment of wibble enducing panic took over. I fell backwards and dropped my phone. The whole 2.5ft drop felt like 20ft. As I hit the floor I immediately knew I did not have the balls to do it. Even if I wanted to. Which in fairness I wasn’t sure I did.

I sat there for a minute and realised what a dick I’d been. I sent a message to my wife. A slightly edited version. And she asked me to come back. We talked and I slept downstairs, but I slept. I never said of quite how close it been but I think she knew why I was there.

I thought many times about one thing in particular. I was set on doing it. From leaving the house to slipping on that rail, I was determined. It wasn’t until it felt too late I realised I didn’t want to at all. I started looking into this. Jump survivors who in the vast majority of cases say similar, that they thought it was a mistake once it was too late.

I’m by no means putting myself in their position… they survived the fall, I slipped 2 feet. But the mindset was similar. I was determined I just didn’t have the guts. But if I did I still would have felt that panic and regret once I did it.

So, what I’ve learned from this is however bad it gets, however much I might hate my current situation and even myself, it’s temporary. And since that day I’ve had as many if not far more good days than bad. Good days i honestly thought were impossible on that night. The worst bad days pass and I’m thankful for the good ones that follow. I’d never put myself in that position again, not that i could if I wanted to…

What started this?

I often wonder how I got myself into the messes I did. I know that I’ve gone through highs and lows but think everyone does that. It’s quite normal.

But in 2015-6 those highs and lows became wider and affected me far more. I would have whole weeks where I would feel completely out of my depth, where I just couldn’t make sense of all the things I had in my head. And at the time it would get me feeling anxious and I wouldn’t be able to sleep. It was like whatever I tried to rationalise wasn’t enough to make me feel like I was in control. But pretty soon after I would make some form of plan and focus my mind on something that would bring me out of it.

Those things started to work less and less though. And thinking about how it started I think it was because the distractions and targets became less important than the issues. I started big… the things i was targeting in my life were really important. I got married, then we focused on children… 2 children then focused on a house move, then a big diy project – a drive, then an extension. By 2013 we had the extension and I started focusing on smaller projects. I may have always had issues but they seems to come out at the point my life plans got smaller. I made a huge decked area just because planning and making it made me feel less crappy.

And last year I decided I would rebuild the garage… that would make me feel better. But as it went along it didn’t. And as it went up I knew I was just trying to distract myself. It wasn’t working. I got worse and worse. And i couldn’t find anything to make it go away.

So there was nothing that could take my mind off the fact I just wasn’t happy. And it started to take control. I became awful to be around, snappy with the kids, my ability to organise and plan things went out of the window… work started to suffer and my hobbies (which had saw me at one point qualify for my country) either disappeared or my performance fell through the floor. If I didn’t disappear I was irritable and obnoxious.

In fact, it’s amazing anyone is still around me, but they are. Good friends are good friends, and resilient. Some just left me to it and gave me space, some tried to help. But as things improved they all came back.

So if I look at how this started, I would say it was by not just burying my head in the sand, but trying to create evidence for myself that everything was ok through distractions and achievements. If I had this again, I’d look myself in the face much earlier, admit I need to think about my life and seek help. Very easy for me to say in hindsight, but i think i can say that now i’m far more aware of the fragility of my mental health. I’m sure many others may be like I was the first time around, seeing this as something that happens to someone else but not me. But it did, and I know now that I can’t just ‘logic’ my way out of it, but need to admit I’m struggling and that I may need help. And seek that help.

I’d then write that list of all the projects and things to do… for after I start to get control of my life back.