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Christmas Blues

I would like to share a story from two of my Christmas's to help those who have not experienced mental ill health to try to understand how bad things can get. On Sunday 23 December 2018 I was supposed to die. For weeks I had been going to bed late at night chanting die die die. I would wake up depressed knowing I had to face another day. I was a burden, I knew that and I knew no one would miss me. I knew I the solution was within me and I simply had to do it. So my plan was set. I woke up that Sunday with two chances to do it. The first was after church when I was out in the car. I said my silent goodbyes to people knowing they would not miss me. My every fibre screamed at me not to drive home, but I forced myself to do so and thought I could do it later after I dropped my son off at his mum's. Later came but my Uncle had asked me to pick up some presents. I didn't want to but had no choice. I dropped my son off but then had to go to my Uncle's house. With the car laden with presents I sat there not knowing what to do. The pain was too much, but I imagined what people would think knowing I had died before Christmas with presents waiting in the car. I went home feeling a failure and no idea how I could possibly cope anymore. I sat in the dark in the conservatory as my wife waited in the living room not knowing what I was going through. I had briefly tested the water some months earlier emailing my employer saying I was struggling to sleep. After three weeks I was told to see a doctor. I had no intention of trying to tell anyone else anything after that. I sat there in the dark and decided all I could do was pretend to myself I had died. I had thought about suicide for a long time and knew I should have no regrets about doing it. So my pretence started from that day. I sat outside myself, observing the world as if I was not really there. And so it transpired. I would answer questions when asked, I would comment when I thought it was expected but in reality I was not present. It became remarkably easy to do and so I carried on the next few months. I knew it was unhealthy and that I couldn't carry like that indefinitely. In the meantime work became busy and hard. Lockdown helped but I was working until 8.00pm most evenings. Nothing improved as Christmas came around once more.

I dreaded Christmas and the pretence I would be going through. Then after struggling to finish my work on Christmas Eve, I was caught breaking down at work. On top of everything else I would have no choice but to see the doctor. I knew work would be asking on my return. So Christmas came and then on Boxing Day after meeting my dad, son and bother in the pub I couldn't take any more. I left on a dreary afternoon as everyone else enjoyed themselves. Walking home I stopped at the old spire opposite the Wedding Cake. I thought there was no need to carry on home.

Tears streamed down my cheeks, unnoticed by the cars and the few other pedestrians rushing about. I was invisible once more. Why walk home? So I stood frozen in my thoughts. Left or right? Ultimately I thought, if I am to die what difference does a couple of days make. I was due to see the doctor so I thought let's hear what he has to say... I am still here. It has been a very difficult journey but there is hope for everyone. I started ManxPACT to assist those like me struggling and unable to talk to anyone. It is a safe space and I would encourage anyone who feels confident enough to join in the conversations. If you find comfort in reading our post that too is brilliant. If I can reach just one person it will all be worthwhile. Christmas will always be difficult for me, but I have strategies in place to cope. If you are struggling remember we care. Please don't give up.

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