Ping…..it was 2am on Wednesday the 4th of May 2016 . My eyes opened but I couldn’t see a thing. The room was pitch black, I had the hot sweats and panic set in because I knew damn well I wasn’t going back to sleep. I knew that I was now going to lay there and think about everything that had been plaguing my mind for the past few months. Waking at this time had become a satanic ritual which had slowly eaten away at my enthusiasm to do anything. For three hours I tossed and turned in an effort to fall into some form of sleep but my thoughts were bouncing around like a nuclear infused atom. I tried desparately to think about all those things that are suppose to make you relax…nice places, nice music, sheep jumping fences…you name it I tried it but it was useless. I was paying the price for all my weaknesses, and they were all I could think about.
I thought about all all those things that I hadn’t done at work. All those things that I should have done but for whatever reason always found an excuse not to do. I thought about all those jobs that I had to do in my personal life that in reality could have been done months and in some cases years ago. I thought about my career and tried to fathom out why over the past few months I had been so indecisive about what path to take….should I stay or should I go. I even tried to get off to sleep singing that famous “Clash” song but I’d never liked it so that was a complete and utter waste of time. There was a raft of other things that are not for this particular post but its fair to say that they drove me to utter panic. I felt like a voodoo doll with Mr Anxiety salivating while he prodded my arms, face and fingertips with his pins and needles.
5am relieved me of the stress of having to lie there and torture myself with all my incompetencies. I dragged myself out of bed and got silently dressed so not to wake my aunty in the room next door. Driving to work offered some form of sanctuary from my thoughts as I concentrated on the workings of my 2001 Ford Focus. The workings of a Focus are not too complicated and it was only a matter of time before the thought of walking through the door at work began to take hold of my gut. I didn’t want to go and in some perverted way I was wishing that something would happen on the way that would give me an excuse to turn around and head back to Paraparaumu. To this day I still don’t know why I didn’t phone in sick to try and get my thoughts together. Maybe deep down I was tired of my whole situation and just wanted something to happen.
As I got closer to work I could feel my blood pressure rising as each kilometre passed by. My mind was all over the place to the point I couldn’t even make a decision about which exit to take off the motorway. Shall I take my usual or shall I look for a longer route to give me more time. I took my usual route and drifted past the station that had been my place of work for the past few months. It had all the character of Broadwater Farm in London and the only good thing going for it was that it was one of the safest buildings in Wellington during an earthquake. I drove around to the carpark at a staggeringly slow pace and up into the multi storey carpark where I parked up. I put the seat back and welled-up. I was shit scared but for some reason I dragged myself out of the car and began the painful walk over to the police building a few hundred metres away.
I remember walking across the road and during some absurd thinking hoped that I hadn’t seen the headlights of a car and I might get bowled. Obviously I didn’t but I remember feeling faint and sick to the stomach as I reached for my access key to open the door into a place that for me was a world of torment. As I walked through the corridors I could feel the walls closing in and my breathing started to get shallow. I walked into the locker room and stopped. It was empty and I thought to myself this would be a good time to turn around and walk out. I couldnt even make that decision and shuffled my way to the locker door. I sat down on the chair and put my head in my hands and tried to get some semblance of control. I couldn’t but I clicked into my ritual and grabbed a shirt and went to the iron. Everything I did seemed to be laboured and slow. I was trying to slow everything down in a morbid effort to delay walking into the office. I finished the shirt and went back to my locker. I stared inside and tried to find something I could do that would delay me from having a shower. I grabbed another shirt and went back to the ironing board and did another one. I’m sure if I had anymore I would have done the lot.
Eventually I had to surrender to inevalability and grabbed my towel and soap. Standing in the shower gave me some form of relief but it ended up being quite expensive as I devoured a whole bottle of Lynx shower gel. I slowley got dressed but by this stage my face felt flushed and panic was trying to shut things down. I wandered over to the lift and nearly pushed the down button but thought better of it and pushed up.
I walked out onto the 8th floor and swiped my access card to get into my office. The room was as dark as the mood I was currently feeling. As I switched the light on I thought that maybe if I got on with work that maybe, just maybe the panic that was paralysing my thought processes would just go away. As it happened that was about as likley as the sun not coming up every 24 hours and I began to sweat profusely. I was alone in the room and I felt alone in my life.
I then thought that routine may offer some form of sanctuary and began that process. That routine hit reality when one of my colleagues walked in and I remember thinking that maybe they would bring me back to some sort of normality and distract me from pain that was beginning to envelop my head. I said good morning and then did my usual by walking to the kitchen to make myself a Moccona coffee. I remember that I couldn’t face going back into the office and I phoned the one person that had been my rock for the past nine years. I told Katrina I didn’t want to be here and as usual she offered some sensible advice that as usual I ignored. I was anxious and I must have circled the table in the kitchen about twenty times before saying “I love you” and hanging up.
As I walked back to the office I remember thinking I have to get out of here but my collegue was now here and I couldn’t just let him see me walk out…I’d have to explain where I was going and I didn’t want to face that. Luckily for me he had his routine and he offered me an ounce of relief from my pain by saying “Mike, I’m just going to the cafeteria to get my coffee”. He walked out of the office and I gave him a minute to get in the lift before grabbing my bag and walking out. It was about 7am and I knew people were going to start coming in. Not wanting to see anyone I took the stairs to the locker room grabbed a coat and clambered down the rest of the stairs to take an exit out onto the sanctuary of the street.
The door closed behind me and I looked across the street. I had been digging a hole for myself over the past few months and this morning I had been balancing on its preciface. I had just made a decision that would push me into that dark hole and its darkness was going to engulf me and it would be three weeks before I hit the bottom.
Categories: My Story 2016
Great blog Mike just wish you had come back to the coast and talked to me. I heard you leave that morning and have known you long enough to know that something was not right,
Reading your blog as a kiwi male of similar age, who often walked on ‘the other side of the tracks ” I feel amazed. I can identify with the internal criticism and society constraints. I’ve had my own personal battles with the ‘black dog’ of depression and empathise. We all need to be more understanding and,perhaps, take a more humanist approach. The context changes,however,the consciousness is surprisingly similar. Mindfulness and respect. Mike, I offer my praise to you.
Thanks Richard for your comments…..I appreciate and understand your thoughts. Its amazing just how many people suffer from depression and its not until it happens to you that you realise how many…thanks again…Mike