It was late on a Saturday night. I had climbed a tree and was on the phone to my therapist. She did a great job of not appearing too phased that I was up a tree in the middle of nowhere at night. This is a journal entry I wrote when I was more lucid the following morning.
SOMETIME IN JANUARY 2015
The tree episode happened last night. I suffer from depression and anxiety. It’s the messed up from stuff that happened a long time ago sort. I can often have an OK sort of day, but get a lot worse in the evenings.
Yesterday evening this happened; I started to feel myself sliding into it. Therapy has taught me to recognise this sensation, so I did all the right things. Played piano for a while, sang some depressing songs. I even completed a few pages of my old lady puzzle book (this is supposed to activate the side of my brain that isn’t focused on memories).
None of it worked. So I poured myself a generous helping of rum.
I’m a big fan of rum. It chilled me out a bit, but didn’t make me feel better. Self-harm comes next. Four clean cuts to my forearm. Stereotypical I know, and I hate to be a cliché. There is something calming in this. It doesn’t ever fix anything, but it gives you a hit of adrenaline or something because it always feels invigorating. As expected, that didn’t lift my mood. So I decided I would probably kill myself.
I’d planned this for a while, driving past my chosen location and daydreaming about it every day. As a lover of the natural world, the forest was the perfect place for me. At night, when I wouldn’t frighten any dog walkers. I would be considerate, call the police first so no innocent rambler had to make a disturbing discovery in the morning. I know what you’re thinking now, that if I were considerate I wouldn’t be taking this course of action anyway – unless you’re like me and you recognise the fact that people don’t always make rational choices. Especially when they are depressed.
Anyway, when I arrived at the woods it was perfect. A beautiful bright moon and nobody around. I sat in the car for a while and listened to some crap on Radio 1. I turned the radio off to write my note. At this point I realised I was a little underprepared. I did have a pen, but only half a diary page to write on, with some directions already on one side. As a writer by profession, I felt disappointed I couldn’t leave something epic for my wife. But I had chosen to seize the moment, so I had to make do with what was there.
I wasn’t sure where a person should leave their suicide note, so I kept it in my pocket, figuring the police would search my things anyway so it would be delivered eventually. It isn’t like my wife would need the explanation anyway, she’s lived through this with me for months now.
You know already that I failed, as I’m obviously not writing this from ‘the other side’ (just to clarify – I don’t believe in an afterlife). The tow rope I thought I had in the back of the car was nowhere to be found. After dragging out the boot liner and searching the various cavities beneath I came up empty.
This was quite a disappointment as I’m sure you’ll understand, but at the same time a relief. I was off the hook (pun intended) this time.
As it was such a beautiful evening, I took a wander into the woods. At this point I think my inner child took over and I climbed a huge tree. Cradled in its strong branches I could almost feel the calm wisdom of its years. It was chilly, but I stayed there a while, watching the patches of pale dark sky move and change with the wind.
Photo: Heath Cajandig, Creative Commons.