“And So I Kept Living”

Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think? That’s what Alanis Morissete was singing about all those years ago, wasn’t it? How everything seems to fall in and out of place at the most inconvenient and unexpected of times.

I find myself reading those lyrics as if they were carved onto my skin.

At a time in my life where I’m surrounded by death, be it in my family, in the news or in my head, the thing I want to do most of all is hope for the future. For the chance at a better life. And yet, part of me is dying. The rotting, sick, diseased part of me that I’ve wanted rid of for so long. But I’m clinging on to it for dear life because I don’t know how to live without it anymore.

I can’t remember what it feels like to wake up to a sunrise with birdsong and a cold glass of OJ without the instantaneuos sledgehammer thumping at my chest reminding me of my condition. I ache when people laugh, wishing I could do the same with such ease. I cry when people smile, wishing I could do the same with such grace. I am sad when people are happy, wishing I could feel how they feel.

I’m clawing and tearing and racing my beating heart to hold on to a cancer that is eating away at me.

And I haven’t always been this way, I used to be your average Joe! I was in a band, I went to pool parties, I stayed up with friends long into the night on winding car journeys, I’d lay on the grass and frolick with wild abandon. But then I was diagnosed with OCD and Depression. A slow spiral into the well of my mind. Tumbling, stuttering and faltering. I’ve had glimpses of what it could be like. Moments where the sun touched my face and the wind pulled at my heart and I felt truly at peace, like the Richard I once knew from the photographs of old.

However, those moments are few and far between. Oceans span the distance between these fleeting times of carefree liberty. The bells ring and I’m washed back out to sea, back to the locker where I find myself most days and nights. It is here that I feel comfortable and safe and suicidal and sad all at once. A corrupt couldron of contamination and confinement, constraint and confliction. A decaying corpse within my soul, a black heart beating in sync with my red one.

My illness and I are in a symbiotic relationship. Now, taken from the mighty Google, a symbiotic relationship is defined as follows: A special type of interaction betweeen species. Sometimes beneficial, sometimes harmful, these relationships are essential to many organisms and ecosystems, and they provide a balance that can only be achieved by working together.

When I look at my OCD and how it is intertwined with my life, I can see how it could be viewed as a harmful variation of symbiosis. When I’m on an even keel and feel that I’m not challenging my OCD too much, I feel okay. I can cope, I have balance. We work together, and for all of it’s restrictions and limitations, I am able to maintain some form of consistent stability.

Consequently, when I say no, when I scream FUCK YOU, when I tell OCD that it can’t and won’t control my destiny, it throws me into the hurricaine and watches, my eyes widening in horror. I’m hurtling through my life and I become dissassociated with who I am and what’s important and where I want to be and I can’t listen to reason and I can’t think and I can’t engage my rational brain. I am a figment of myself.

It’s terrifying and nye on impossible to explain to anyone that doesn’t suffer with mental health issues of their own. Worst of all, it’s keeping the majority of these emotions bottled up inside like a dirty little secret. This sensation haunts me. Of feeling like a prisoner in my own body who is so used to being institutionalised and resigned to a life with OCD that when someone unlocks the cell door, I’m simply too scared to step outside.

For half a second earlier tonight, my foot was firm on the accelerator, hands gripped tightly on the wheel, my mind made up. I was going to end it all. Stop the pain, the misery, the gross injustice of my life and the consequences it has not only on myself but everyone who is part of it. My body flushed hot, my heart raced and my mind was still.

Ultimately, I am still here. I don’t know what stopped me. It wasn’t the fear of hurting those I love, it wasn’t guilt. I can’t place it. But I am here. I am writing. I am opening the bottle and pouring out the contents like champagne at a wedding. How ironic.

World Suicide Prevention Day is on the 10th of September this year. Their tagline is the title of this post, taken from Matt Haig’s book ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’. I will be making a video about my experiences with suicide using resources from TWLOHA because I can’t hide what’s happening in my head anymore. I can’t shy away from the scary thoughts that are making an all too regular appearance in my life.

To anyone reading this who needs help or feels similarly to me, you are not alone. I love you, and for some reason that I am yet to discover, I’m not going away just yet.

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4 thoughts on ““And So I Kept Living”

  1. Richard, you are an amazing person. I’m so sorry you have to fight parts of yourself all the time. I know you are working very hard just to keep on going. If you ever, ever need anything, I am here for you just like you were there for me. By the way, your writing is beautiful.

  2. Really glad that I found your blog. We follow each other on Twitter but I’ve never only just started reading today. You have some much passion for mental health it blows my mind! I hope you know how amazing you are.
    Btw, I f**king LOVED your video about #justgoforawalk

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