Thursday, 10 October 2013

The Gutter; A World Mental Health Day Post

It's World Mental Health day and I'm here to throw up a short piece of fiction, written today, about mental health.

We are told that one in three people will experience some mental health problems in their lives. Look around you. Count to three. Did you land on your son? Your wife? Your best friend? Boyfriend? Aunt? Odd man at the bar? Yup, you're right, it could be any of them.

It isn't something that happens to only 'weak people'. It isn't something that people should just 'get over'. It's something that people should show some respect, something that they should show compassion over and recognise that if you mock now you may fall later and find yourselves at the hands of the same mocking voices.

You are one bereavement, one accidental blow to the head, one divorce, one sacking, one moment of trauma away from your own personal hell.

Show some compassion, show some love, take the hand that reaches out for you... Next time it could be you...

  It started on a dark and stormy night, as so many stories do. I’d had a skin-full and the walk home was a weaving affair, bumping from lamppost to wall to car and back, traversing the roads I’d walked a thousand times before.

I remember the corner before the road. I remember a light and a whole bunch of noise and then nothing. I woke up in the hospital bed with people milling around me, trying to remain calm while asking me questions. 

It was explained to me over a period of a few days that I’d been found in the gutter with serious head injuries. The police had reports of a man being beaten up in the area and also another report of a hit and run, though they didn’t know which one I was. Perhaps I was the hit and run and had been left to die by a drunk driver or a scared young woman that couldn’t afford to lose the car, or was I a drunk that met the wrong youths and took a king-sized kicking for walking the wrong way home that night?

In the end it didn’t really matter. The point was that the damage was done.

I was told I was lucky, the skull fracture had healed well and I didn’t have any lasting impairments physically so it was best to move on. If only I could have that would have been glorious. But of course I couldn’t.

The deep concussion I suffered when my skull met something far harder than itself altered my brain chemistry. I was told I would experience some problems, but when the Insomnia really took hold it wasn’t just ‘a problem,’ it was something I’d never had experience with before and it sunk in hard and made itself a part of my life. I changed. I felt weary, always listing from one minor sleep deprived cluster-fuck to another until the office had enough of me and found a way to remove me.

I didn’t have the energy to fight them and so away I went and suddenly I was jobless. It had been a good job, one my father was proud of, but now I was unemployed and taking whatever I could to get some sleep. The pills helped for a time but soon I needed higher doses just to get any effect. I took myself off to the doctor and sat before him, dishevelled, desperate, at the end of a road I never thought I’d walk down.

He gave me anti-depressants and sent me on my way.

One afternoon I was round at my parents, Sunday dinner on the table, my sister in attendance when the conversation turned to ‘useless whiners’. I recognised the chat, it was one that we used to have every few weeks. We’d slam the ‘weaklings’ that ‘couldn’t cope’ and dad would add that they should ‘grow a spine.’

I sat listening this time as I hadn’t told them about my depression, how could I? They wouldn’t understand. I left early that day and when I felt the world swallow me and the red letters flowed through the door I knew I couldn’t go to him.

He wouldn’t understand.

When it came to it I had no-one to turn to, no-one that would listen and just say they didn’t care that it had gone wrong and that they would help me. I sat in the bedroom and realised my way out wasn’t the door but the window. So I went and sat there, looking out, watching people walk passed and I realised that I wasn’t important to any of them. No-one had come to visit me in a while, they used to but I started hiding when my mum popped round because I couldn’t let her see me so pathetic and so I would wait for her to go away and then  wish I’d let her in.

I don’t even know why I did that.

I know I’m stronger than this, that I was better than this but as I open the window I know no-one will miss me and this, this window, is now my best friend. My way out. The release my family need.

I lean out and from then its only sky.

Sky... a noise like thunder and then the light.    

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