You Will Never Be Glad If You Have Never Been Sad.

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When I was about seven or eight years of age, a boy, some three or four years older than I and much bigger, snatched my prized ‘Davy Crockett’ hat from my head and ran off with it. I chased after him, grabbed him by the shoulders, spun him around and landed two punches. One landed squarely on his nose, which then bled, and I retrieved my hat. Neither he nor his friends ever bothered me again.

From that early age I grew up a very self-reliant person, never asking anyone to fight my battles for me. I became, at both my Junior School and at Grammar School, the defender of the bullied, willingly standing up against many on behalf of those less strong. That attitude of complete confidence stayed with me throughout my varied life, even carrying me through the fights that I lost, but it was shattered eight years ago in London.

I am a licensed London taxi driver and was at work that fateful day, stopped at a red traffic light when a van ran into the side of my cab. Although I was admitted into St. Thomas’s Hospital and kept there for a time, it was not the physical injuries that troubled me in the next three and half years, it was from the mental pain that I suffered. I was clinically diagnosed as having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, seeing a multitude of psychiatrists, psychologists, physiotherapists as well as a neurologist and, of course, my general practitioner.

One thing that I never told any of those professionals was that at the time of the accident I saw death, and heard it speak.

Having been a Police Officer I knew that I had to give my name at the scene of the accident, and it was with this on my mind when I saw that apparition. As I was trying to get out of my cab I saw a bright white light with an indistinguishable face in the centre. The voice said to me, “ You don’t have to bother, I already know your name.” What frightened me from telling this, at all the therapy sessions I attended, was the stigma of suffering from a mental disorder that would, I imagined, been diagnosed worse had I of done so. I kept it a secret, but it bothered me.

I had many sessions of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, (CBT) whilst on prescribed medicine never, as I say, telling the full truth, but it was one question in particular that made me sit-up and think:

“If your car was scratched, would you throw it away?”

That was me. I was scratched but wanted to end it all by throwing my life away. I had seriously thought along those lines. The realisation that not all was worthless about me slowly led to a recovery, via three months of sheer hell coming off an addiction to painkillers. It was either that or morphine for the rest of my life the neurologist told me. I saw countless psychiatrists, as antidepressants were prescribed in varying degrees of dosage. I saw private psychologists, some, I’m sure, interested more in money than cure. Through it all my doctor was my professional pillar of strength, as was all that I saw in the good old National Health Service, and it was she, and those, who got me on the course of Eye Movement Desensitisation Routine (EMDR) that helped to cure me.

I don’t believe that it was purely medication nor therapy that led to recovery, but a combination of both certainly helped, along with the acceptance that life had changed. What did it for me was finally coming to terms with my vulnerability. I was not superhuman after all and could not walk through walls, but I could fight this sickness. I did, and I won. If I can, then so can you!

I have come across many people who suffer as I did, and it’s that stigma that sometimes holds us back from admitting that we need help to recover. Talking is a cure, not simply comparing ourselves with others, each pain is separate; purely personnel and hurting. Each day, trying to do what could not be done yesterday helps. Believe you can do it, and eventually, you will.

Joining social groups is a huge task to come to terms with, but it will help. Ones that share an interest of yours, be it reading, knitting or talking about films, anything that you can involve yourself in. The internet may seem imposing, but it’s full of people who are searching for peace of mind, and others to communicate with. 

Blogging is another way to connect. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling, and don’t worry about saying silly things, just get out there and mingle. Let others help you to restore your faith in your own ability.

There is no overnight cure for depression nor anxiety, but you will come through it. It will be you who drags yourself to recovery. On the other side of those dark forbidding days is not utopia, that doesn’t exist, real life awaits with all the problems that brings. You have been to hell and lived through it, what can life throw at you now?

Have you been sad long enough? Get better, and rejoice that you are on the road to being well again. Good luck to you.

I saw the face of death once, in the centre of a dazzling light. “I know your name,” it said, “but I will not ask for it tonight.

No need to worry my friend, your time has not come around. When it does, I will come silently, I will not make a sound.

There is no need to fear me as you cannot escape my name. You were born, you lived, it’s not me, but life that you must blame!”

Danny Kemp

 

 

 

 

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About Danny Kemp

I was at work one sunny November day in 2006, stopped at a red traffic light when a van, driven incompetently, smashed into me. I was taken to St Thomas' Hospital and kept in for a while, but it was not only the physical injuries that I suffered from; it was also mental ones. I had lost confidence in myself let alone those around me. The experts said that I had post-traumatic stress disorder, which I thought only the military or emergency personnel suffered from. On good days, I attempted to go to work, sometimes I even made it through Blackwell Tunnel only to hear, or see, something that made me jump out of my skin and that's when the anxiety attacks would start. I told my wife that I was okay and going regularly, but I wasn't. I could not cope with life and thought about ending it. Somehow or other with the help of my wife and medical professionals, I managed to survive and ever so slowly rebuild my self-esteem. It took almost four years to fully recover, but it was during those dark depressive days that I began to write. My very first story, Look Both Ways, Then Look Behind, found a literary agent but not a publisher. He told me that I had a talent, raw, but nevertheless, it was there. His advice was to write another story and that I'm delighted to say, I did. The success of that debut novel, The Desolate Garden, was down to sheer hard work, luck, and of course, meeting a film producer.
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3 Responses to You Will Never Be Glad If You Have Never Been Sad.

  1. Wie viel Mut muss man besitzen, um sich vor Anderen so weit zu öffnen. Ich war tief betroffen, als die Geschichte – ihre Geschichte las. Wenn es so ist, wie Sie schreiben, gibt es tatsächlich etwas nach dem Tod und man sollte sich nur vor dem Übergang fürchten, nicht vor dem, was danach ist.
    So könnten Nahtoderfahrungen auch Schlüssel sein. Ein Schlüssel für den Zugang einer anderen Form von Existenz. Dieser Schlüssel ist für mich ganz deutlich zu sehen. Ist es nicht so, dass wir auf Erden unsere Aufgabe zu erfüllen haben, egal wie schwer diese auch sein mag und dazu auch manches Mal eine zweite Chance erhalten, damit wir unser Lebensziel erreichen können. Der Blick in eine andere Welt – durch ein Gesicht, ist demnach ein Geschenk etwas besser zu machen, Veränderungen vorzunehmen oder noch einmal ganz von vorne zu beginnen. Nicht die Angst vor dem Tod sollte uns fürchten machen, sondern dass wir in diesem Leben unser Lebensziel nicht erreicht haben. Gabriele Napíerata
    How much courage one must possess in order to open up so far ahead of others. I was deeply affected when the story – read her story. If it is so, as you write, there’s actually something after death and you should be afraid just before the transition, not before, what’s next.
    Thus, near-death experiences may also be key. A key to access another form of existence. This key is very clear for me to see. Is it not the case that we have to fulfill our task on earth, no matter how difficult this may be, and to also receive sometimes a second chance so that we can achieve our goal in life. The view into another world – a vision is, therefore, to make a gift a little better to make changes or to start again from scratch. Not the fear of death should make us fear, but that we have not achieved our aim of life in this life. Gabriele Napíerata

  2. Thanks for sharing your experiences, Danny. You’re so right about the stigma holding people back. Unfortunately, sometimes It does.

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