It had been an intense few days.
Finally, after spending an hour or so being the camera ninja, Johanna gave me a good ol’ friendly big hug.
I was filmed with David – I was filmed with Fran – I was filmed with the Anthony Gormley statues – I was filmed while I talked to folks on the road – I was filmed going to and coming from – I was filmed while I was interviewed on the phone by Chrissie Hodges of Cosmic Radio in Colorado – I was filmed on the Ferry ‘cross the Mersey.
I was taking it all in my stride.
As I parted from Johanna and David I was already thinking that I had some money that I could use for the purposes of bed and breakfasting.
The world was beginning to depart. Things and people were beginning to feel that little bit distant – there was a satellite delay between what happened outside my head and the processing that interpreted it all for me.
For some reason I carried on with the Walk a Mile Blag – could they offer me a bed for free?
When I needed to be in a room on my own away from everything I was spending time negotiating…
I spoke to Ella – the voice of reason – ‘Just pay and get in the room…’
She was right.
I got in the room – put the TV on loud and lay down.
Of course it was all too late. I looked at my right hand – it clearly belonged to someone else. I closed my eyes – I was numb – I was falling through time and space…
And still I didn’t have the wherewithal to take an extra super dose of pills…
I lay for a couple of hours and then the room phone rang. It was the duty manager – she was unable to authorise a freebie room – but she could give me free food – tea – and breakfast.
I went down to the dining room to find she’d printed off a copy of the Scottish Sun article for the kitchen and waiting staff.
I was a minor celebrity.
This was great – but I wasn’t being honest – I was struggling hugely – yet I smiled – I accepted that lovely hospitality – I told the story of walk a mile to anyone who’d listen…
But now I was talking about someone else…I was someone else.
With smiles and fond thoughts behind me I went back to my room.
I put the TV on as loud as it would go and lay in the bath.
I spoke to Ella – she wasn’t able to come up tonight – but with a bit of wangling she could get up tomorrow.
Still hopeful – still pretending that I had some control over this…
The voice of inner judgement is cacophonous. From hero to zero.
Here it was again – this tortuous emotional vacuum – this belief that this is how it always is – always has been – the feeling of hopelessness and helplessness…
…and that good old 2 pronged attack that I believed would give me some solace…
That urge to self harm – that urge to break out of this ridiculous fugue through the medium of pain and, well that ever familiar route out – suicidal ideation.
Suicidal ideation – such a commonly used term in this line of work. It’s a phrase, so quickly said, as a sound it’s over in a flash.
Say it out loud – suicidal ideation.
Just like the word ‘love’ it’s ridiculously too small for what it is….
It’s all of your past…well, all of your past filtered through shit.
It’s all of your future….your futures with that same treatment….
It’s now….these seconds, minutes, hours and days of intolerable…in my case ALMOST intolerable psychological pain….
But like so many others, my experience flips it all on its head. Instead of being present – like any mindfulness book or counsellor subscribes to – I, like so many others in my situation, dissociate.
I’m not in the moment, the past or the future. I’m nowhere.
It’ll pass – it always does – doesn’t it?
Suicidal ideation provides the possibility of an exit from all this nonsense and pain. In my case it really isn’t a desire to die, it’s an all encompassing impulse to make the noise stop.
Ella comes up…I chat a bit about my recent encounters with folk – what great support I’ve had – how well I was received – how people just get the whole walk a mile thing…
We get pissed. That softens it….it comes back and, finally, once again, I admit defeat.
It will pass.
We go home.
I become a weird creature – in my own mind at least – who inhabits the front room, watching loud TV, intolerant of the outside world, of reality.
I try to speak to folk. It feels like my voice is coming from elsewhere – my own voice alien to me.
I take more medication to alleviate it all…
Weirdly, but not for the first time, I hallucinate. I see trilobites 3-4 inches long, black shiny, not too dissimilar to a wood louse in shape, scuttling across – no, above the floor, as such exposing their hallucination credentials….I hear children – 10, maybe 20, whispering incoherently behind me. There is no behind me – only a wall.
I later look these symptoms up – both are side effects of the illness and/ or the medication I take.
Normal in my abnormal world.
So nothing to worry about – familiar unfamiliarity.
They’ve been and gone. I feel nothing about them now as I did when they occurred.
Over the past month I’ve been submerged – I’ve bobbed about on the surface – I’ve felt like a real boy – only for that to drift away hours and minutes later.
I feel – yes, I feel – frustrated at this block in my life – in my walk – in my story – in our story.
I feel a little envy that people without the lunacy can go about their business – I’m not naive enough to believe folk cruise through life without a care but it might be nice not having to float off to the moon every so often.
Every time I’ve looked like resurfacing – anything up to a full day of respite from it, where young Derek and I formed the plucky pub quiz team at the Red Lion pub near Ella’s – bravely coming last….twice – I’d return to this weird world of non-existence, not feeling, not loving, not hating, of extreme ambivalence….
That’s not entirely true – I felt – feel unable to face anyone other than Ella – a feeling that made/ makes the outside too challenging an environment to consider.
So here I am, sitting in a darkened room, watching loud TV waiting for it to pass – which it will.
Being filmed, being interviewed, close relationships may all have had an impact on my looniness – but this, for me, is a way of life.
I want people to think about mental health – to engage with folk with a mental malady – I want others to share their stories so that more people know more.
If I get it bit knocked off from time to time it’s a hit I’m willing to take….
Not exactly taking it all in my stride then…
Walk a mile