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!”