The Other Side

It’s been a very strange journey for me this year, to have experienced the ultimate low in life; the moment where you decide, and plan, to take your own life.

As someone who has consistently seen suicide as the most selfish and cruel act to inflict on the people who love you, it was a truly terrifying experience to make a plan, and feel the calmness, the complete and total relief of knowing that I had now made that decision – that I could, and would, take that blissful way out, to make it all just end. An escape route that I kept secret to ensure nobody could stop me from doing it.

I sat there, feeling a calmness I have never in my life experienced. It was so perfect, it was like floating… but I could also feel the darkness in it, the wrongness. That the decision hadn’t been made by the Bri who has been the leader of my life for the past 30 years, it was made by the Bri who comes to visit once every couple of years, the one who makes all the mess you have to clean up later.

As the calmness stilled, I realised I didn’t want to end my life, just this facet of it, this Bri who hadn’t just called in for a brief visit in the guest room, but had seemed to have brought all her belongings and unpacked them into a wardrobe in the main bedroom.

Although I had decided not to take my life at that point, I still kept my plan secret. I still didn’t tell anyone about it. I still wanted that option available to me, just in case…

A few days later, I started to come out of my depression on my own and looked down at the shadowy place I’d just come from, unable to reconcile the vast distance that now separated me from that place. Just a few days, that’s all it was.. a few days after I very nearly ended my life, I found my way back to the sunshine.

And that is the part that terrified me. To know that I could have ended it all, just to end that pain… when the pain drifted away on its own just a few days later.

I was so scared by that, I decided to tell people I had made a plan. I even told one of them what it was.  That was my way of proving to myself that it was over. That I wouldn’t use that escape, ever. I am fairly certain that one of them suspected I’d had that plan, as she didn’t want me to be alone that day, and begged me to stay there, at her house.

It felt horrible to know that I almost did something so cruel to people I love with all my heart.

And that’s the moment I decided to give up the fight against medicating.

Frankly, it’s the best decision I’ve made in a very long time. I’m safe from myself now, and so very excited to be alive.

This experience made me realise how lucky I am to be surrounded by the most supportive and loving friends, family and colleagues, who all shouldered the burden of caring for a person whose mind was not entirely her own. They made allowances for me, they gave me space when I needed it, and they made sure I understood that there was nothing they wouldn’t do for me, all I had to do was ask.

I owe them all a greater debt than they realise.

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Suffering

A woman I know through work lost her husband a little while ago.

At the time I heard about his passing, I knew that it would be devastating for her, as they never had children and had always been inseparable, especially so since their retirement.

A friend and I had lunch with her last Saturday, and she’s been in my thoughts ever since.

I have only known her a couple of years, through work, but if someone had asked me to describe her in one word, the word I would have chosen would be “formidable”. And now that formidable woman has been thrust into a world where everything that made her strong is gone.

The house is empty, there isn’t even the whisper of his sleeping breath, a sound that would have filled her nights for decades. His smell would be disappearing as each day passed. Not his cologne or his shaving cream, but his smell, and eventually, the sound of his voice when she needed to hear it most.

She hopes for a time when she doesn’t feel so lost and so small, shrouded in the loneliness that is the grief of losing the other half of your soul. Very little can puncture that cloud, for unless you have also lost the other half of your soul, you cannot comprehend the depth of that wound.

The loneliness eats away at her. Friends advise her to “keep busy” and to “get out and about”, but where is she to go, and with whom?

Alone, afraid, and very lost, this woman now has to rebuild her life around the one that shattered when she lost her husband. She’ll do that, and do it well. The formidable woman she was known for being is still there, and not as far from the surface as she might think.

Spending time with her, contemplating what she now faces has made me think about the things people put themselves through in order to continue living, even when they don’t feel there’s a reason.

I feel as though she and I understand that place, though our footprints came  there from different directions.

Just roll with it

It’s been great having Sid with me on this medication adventure.

I asked him to tell me when he thinks I’m being weird, and to give me his observations on it, if he can, because I am really having trouble even sensing when strangeness is afoot. Everything seems normal to me.

He said to me yesterday that my behaviour at the time was like I always get when we go to bed, when I get hyperactive and get my own version of the midnight cat crazies, annoying him, or just laughing incessantly over the most ridiculous things. Overflowing with child-like happiness and mischief.

He said it’s the way children can live their imaginations out loud, before their parents and society deem them too old to be doing such things. Back when kids played games about witches and goblins, Transformers and Power Rangers, turning branches into swords and garden furniture into spaceships.

Apparently that’s how I am a vast majority of the time, but on this medication, it’s exacerbated; extending beyond the midnight crazies into lazy afternoon territory. Or, in yesterday’s case, From The Beginning Of The Day territory.

For me, there are certainly worse side-effects I could be experiencing. For Sid, and those who have to spend time with me, it could be a different story.

It has been disconcerting to receive that “what the fuck are you talking about?” look four times in one day, from coworkers, and it’s certainly not been easy flitting between agitated and anxious to emotionally oblivious, but overall, I feel okay about this medication.

At the moment, the positives are outweighing the negatives. I find myself more motivated at work, I can concentrate much better on completing tasks, rather than constantly switching between new, old and current tasks, abandoning them halfway through to move onto something else.

That in itself is most refreshing. My mind seems more able to focus on tasks at work, even if it is getting lost when it tries to focus on tasks for me to enjoy.

Any positive is a step forward from where I’ve been this year, so I’m just not really allowing myself to focus on the negative aspects, just keeping my mind on the positive outcomes. Whether that’s me or the medication starting to do its thing, I don’t really know. Doesn’t really matter, does it?

I’m happy with the way things are going. I have no real expectations of this medication because I’m fully aware that in many ways, it’s just a lot of trial and error. All I feel is that I’ve got to try something beyond talking now, so here we are. Starting that process. No idea where we’ll end up, but at least the mistakes that stem from this adventure will be new and different.

The same old ones I’ve been nurturing for years were getting me nowhere. These might send me off a cliff but at least it will be a spectacular view on the way down!

You were lucky to get a blog post. I have to think of a title, too?

One of the massive downsides to this new medication I’m on is that at the moment, with all the new chemicals being introduced to my brain, things are just a little out of whack.

Most days, I am very vague. I find it difficult to think of the words I need and most times, am unable to identify what it is that I’m feeling. It feels… as though I’m not feeling anything in particular, I’m just quite indifferent.

I also get extremely bored and restless with each task that I am doing, within around 5 minutes.

As a result, it’s been incredibly difficult for me to write. Absolutely nothing will stay still inside my mind long enough for me to translate it to text.

I’m frustrated and concerned, but also aware that I’m still in the first few weeks of medicating. It’s going to take some time for this all to settle down, and until a little more time passes, I’m not going to have any clue as to the long-term effects of the meds. I just have to hold out for a few months, and I’ll have a better idea of whether or not this medication is the one for me.

Until then, I’ll try my best to keep writing, though I really cannot guarantee the quality of said writing. Then again, anything has to be better than the walk down suicide alley I took you all on over the past few months.

Here’s to a little more positive content in the future!

In which I get proactive and “plan my future”

As the title suggests, I have been busy planning my future.

I figured it was something that I needed to do in order to move forward with my life.

Tonight, Sid gave me the perfect opportunity by querying what we should do this weekend.

Me:  We could fill an esky with ice, bait, drinks, sandwiches and take the  fishing rod for a walk to the river?
If the weather’s nice.
Take the backpack, picnic blanket, a pillow to share. mp3, your speakerdude.
Don’t even have to go fishing, just thought it might give us something to do.
We could draw, or photos, or write.
One day we’ll take a long weekend, go camping. Pretend to be huck finn and build a raft.

Sid: This really is sounding like an adventure.

He then said “I wonder if there is a swamp people weekend cruise?”, so it was comforting to know that:

  1. He is aware that I will forget about this idea later tonight;
  2. He is also aware that even if I did remember, the weekend would arrive and I would be all “aww mannnnn”, and just complain about blisters all day; and;
  3. He’s so used to this that he no longer pays it any real attention beyond complementing me on my imagination and changing the subject to distract me with something new.

It worked, because I then asked him if he meant here, in this little river-town we live in, because it’s a total possibility, and if not, I think I’ve found a new business venture…

Obviously, before, when I said “planning my future”, I didn’t mean like, a realistic or useful one.

I’m nowhere near ready for that shit.

Mornings

The leaf-shadows are dancing gently on the grass and a warm breeze sighs across my face, hinting at picnics or ball games in the park. The air tastes like holidays and front-lawn sprinklers. Neighbours are smiling, like the sunshine has slipped into them, and is filling them up from the inside, escaping back into the world through the small cracks between their teeth.

My feet carry me along the dew-covered grass, to the gravelled driveway of the house with the dog whose head is too small for its body. She has a loud bark for such a tiny thing and races to the fence each time I journey past, to yap her hellos to me, over and over.

A slow stream of cars forces me to pause at the kerb, waiting for them to pass. Range rovers and utes, hatchbacks and vans all slowly amble past, in as much hurry to reach their destination as I am to reach mine.

Silverware cuts through the leisurely breakfasts of tourists filling up tables at the bakery. A line of tradesmen snakes out the door as lunch orders are placed and breakfast pies picked up.

Rounding the corner next to the art gallery, the sun disappears behind the buildings and the warmth stored in my clothing soon gives way to the cool chill of a shadowed morning street.

I wave hello to the newsagent and the real estate man, give a smile to the lady on her way to the post office, and to the bus driver, waiting at the crossing for me to pass.

I step into my office building and feel the sunlight slide off my shoulders again. I trudge slowly up the winding staircase to my desk, already counting the hours left until 5pm, where I will walk home beneath the tired, orange sun, and watch it dusk up the sky over a glass of wine.