“Depression is the inability to construct a future”
It was the evening of the 22nd when my blood began to splatter against the pad. I had reopened yesterday’s wounds. That day I felt alive, and it was about damn time. How on earth can I put this all into words?
See, I’ve been having trouble figuring out what to write about recently. What exactly can I say about my work? This week I encountered a heroin addict who had a small square bald patch shaved in the side of his head, it like he was the victim of an electric shaver prank in Jackass. He stole some food. When we caught him he bowed his head like a pathetic dog that had just licked his own balls. When the 5-0 searched him, he removed his skanky green jacket and had no top on underneath. He looked like a holocaust survivor, thin, pale, with track marks on his arms and this freakish sunken chest.
For me, it’s impossible to stay depressed about your own miserable existence when in your own line of work you come across some of society’s most ridiculous motherfuckers. That doesn’t explain the panic attacks.
Let me take you back in time. I was twenty two and working nine til five in an office fending off vultures who complained about their car insurance policies. Three of my buddies convinced me that I should come along on a Lad’s Holiday to Tenerife. This was a chance for temporary respite from the air conditioned monotony.
The jitters came as I sat in my bedroom staring at my freshly packed suitcase. I told my sister I was feeling uneasy about going abroad, but I couldn’t put my finger on why. A taxi picked me up, and I just about managed to put the doubting thoughts to the back of my mind. Stay back demons, I told myself. Anyhoo, I met up with my buddies at the Airport and we joshed around, one of my buddies asked me if I had brought any johnny’s. Damn, I knew I’d forgotten something. So, I ran into the Airport’s poky little shop and grabbed a box.
A few drinks gave me the courage to board the plane, and we flew out. Five or six hours later we touched down in Tenerife. The hotel check-in was fine, we were in good spirits, first night we hit the clubs and bars and I think I had a good time. Then the next day something odd came over me. I felt down, not hung-over down, but bummed….. What’s that ‘d’ word?
I felt depressed.
Maybe, the early sign that this holiday was to be a disaster was revealed by the doubts I felt just before flying out. Or perhaps it was the moment when I pulled the box of condoms out of my hand luggage and realised that somehow I had managed to purchase a box of fucking tampons. As my mates went out and had a Full English breakfast, I stayed in the hotel twiddling my thumbs for a wee while; I watched a cockroach struggle in the oppressive heat, stuck on its back on the sun drenched balcony. Then I swam a little in the pool, but felt like drowning. As the next night arrived, my mates put on their smart shits, sprayed on their Brut fragrance and got ready to get bladdered. I told them I was ill. I stayed in, and whilst they were gone I fought a battle in my own head. The angel on one shoulder, and the devil on the other, they had a right back and forth. “Go home” the devil said.
After a few hours the devil won out, I packed my suitcase. The next morning I got a return flight ticket, said goodbye to my mates and flew home. It cost me five hundred quit. But preserving my sanity at the time seemed priceless.
In Tenerife I suffered from a major panic attack, but there were others in the years prior. Throughout my Uni years I was a nervous wreck, uncomfortable in my own skin, gaining solace and strength from sipping from Brandy bottles. I would shake, and wretch, vomiting out my fears and inadequacies.
Only two weeks ago I encountered the kind of Tsunami level panic attack, one that rocked me to my core. A sledgehammer blow, that shook me mentally and smashed me physically. It was over a trip I had planned to visit Australia. Last year I travelled down under, and I loved it. Had the time of my life, but this time around for whatever reasons the thought of travelling all that way scared the shit out of me. Proper petrified me. I struggled to eat, I felt tearful (and trust me, the last time I cried was over the ending of Homeward Bound, and that was yonks ago) and I flipped out. I’m surprised no one worked out something was wrong with me. I was quiet, not my usual self, and decidedly on the edge.
As I washed the dried blood from my knuckles, I smiled. Two weeks after the panic attack, and I’m feeling better. Sure, I had to cancel my travel plans for this year. But there is still fight in this old dog. Until next time at least, when whatever it is that gets me, returns to grabs me by the throat.