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…

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The travel benefits of depression.

At that point where I was starting to realise something just isn’t right I started to randomly drive places. This in fairness was one of the triggers.

It started on what should have been a 25 minute journey along the motorway to my house. I don’t recall feeling a huge urge to get away but I saw a sign to somewhere else, and just turned off and started heading south away from the motorway.

I ended up 2 hours away on the Jurassic coast, it was beautiful and always somewhere I like to visit. But i didnt quite know how I’d got there. And when I finally stopped and thought about what was going on, as I stared out to sea, I started to wonder if I was actually now crazy. I realised this just isn’t normal.

I also then wondered how bad I was. I was by a very steep cliff and wondered how many other people had been here in times of need… either to seek comfort or for darker intentions. It just felt like that kind of place, the sort of place that was so profoundly beautiful it would be the ideal place to either fix your life or end it. I had absolutely no intentions of hurting myself there… but I was wondering how much it takes for someone to do it. I became fascinated with what thoughts must be running through people’s minds at that point. I got out of my car and walked to the edge and looked over. What would be going through someone’s head at this point. It looked a scary prospect. Painful. I almost felt a sense of admiration for the bravery it must take to make that step. But as i thought more that changed to a sense of sadness for the desperation someone must feel.

I then thought, how would i do it? Would i stand and ponder? Would i decide to walk over and just do it immediately without looking or thinking? I had no intention of doing anything (at this time) but after about half an hour of obsessed thinking about this I knew I wasn’t right. This thinking wasn’t right. It was more than just simple curiosity. I needed to think very carefully about what this meant.

I slept there in my car overnight. Don’t think i was allowed to but it was amazing. In the morning I then thought about how great it was to just see that place. Ignoring the very concerning obsession with suicide, I just headed somewhere i loved and enjoyed a night.

This led to what I now see to be quite a concerning habit. I would be out with my friends and drop people home, at perhaps 11pm, then think something like ‘I wonder what Stonehenge looks like at this time of night’. So I would go. ‘I bet the Severn Bridge looks amazing at this time of night’ so I would sleep under it. And to the extreme ‘I wonder what it’s like up north at the moment’, and I ended up at the Lake District 4-5 hours away.

Nothing hugely wrong with that in the right circumstances, other than I told no one and it really wasn’t the right circumstances looking back. As far as my wife was concerned I was disappearing. And i was not exactly healthy. But I didn’t even think about it. I was seeing all the places I wanted to see at the time I thought about them. Complete freedom. Amazing sights and locations frequently throughout the week. I didn’t go international which looking back surprises me. Unless you count Wales. But I went to just about every area of the UK. In one respect it was amazing. Finally, my complete mess of a head was reaping rewards in the form of spontaneous travel to picturesque locations.

Which was great until I had to face up to reality. This was escapism. It was running away. And as I did the thoughts often became darker. I worked out the practicalities of killing myself in about 20 different locations. Never wanted to do it, just became a mental exercise. But this was being left unchecked and getting worse and was only really reeled in when I started seeking help. Then I started to realise the huge risk of what I was actually thinking behind the travel plans.

Looking at my travels there’s huge benefits from this. I still enjoy the idea of freedom and now if I want to go away I feel happy to just do it there and then, which I would never have done before. I just would take my family or let people know what I’m doing just to keep a sense of normality to the whole thing. And my thoughts are now firmly based in relaxing and enjoying the scenery around me, which is a huge bonus.