Not what you think, this will not be a confusing list of twenty goals related to the number 18 but indeed a statement of personal goals I hope to achieve in the year twenty-eighteen. A list of resolutions if you will. (The confusing title is to draw you in and appear hip and cool.)
So, at the end of 2016 (or twenty 16) I made the decision to take my life. I had come to a similar crossroads many times in my life but never with so much clarity. Plans were made. My final moments were passing me by with a surreal sadness, I felt relief and certainty in my decision. It was not an easy decision to come to, I was not giving up on life more putting an end to my souls suffering and an end to the weight bearing down on those around me.
As I sit here now, typing this you know that, for better or worse, my plan did not come to fruition.
After spending time in a mental health ward, being prescribed a wonderful new treatment of drugs and with everything being out in the open I felt a renewed lease on life. It would be easier now.
2017 was one of the hardest years of my life. I became acutely aware of my words and actions and without the fall back of alcohol I lost all self confidence. Less of a sense of identity then ever before. I continued to do the things that I do, look after my family, maintain an appearance of togetherness, exercise, running half marathons, eating well, study, read, socialize, watch t.v. Without realizing I had fallen into the misguided belief that by telling everyone I was fine, I would be. Fine. Whenever I came upon a moment of joy a flurry of crippling guilt would soon follow. I did not deserve to be here.
But I am fine. Just ask.
Anyway, after many attempts to achieve peace of mind and silence the never ending stream of self doubt, nonsense, hatred, to do lists running laps in my mind I came an inevitable conclusion. I had been right; maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but one day I would take my own life. There is no other way out.
Then some other things happened. Silly actions followed by halfhearted epiphanies which eventually led me to another doctors office, another diagnosis and more new medication.
Eventually the fog began to clear. I can remember when it began to lift, I was on a run and I realized my heart felt lighter, I was smiling. That moment was pivotal. If you have ever seen the movie Trolls, it was like the part when Branch sings True Colours and he and Poppy and all the other Trolls get their colours back. My colour was coming back. It didn’t return in the time it takes to sing one song. Or to sing a whole album. There are still some grey areas.
Once the fog had lifted I was able to see what created clarity and space in my mind and I set forth to achieve it. I laid it bare for my family, for my friends and for all of Facebook to see. I felt raw and exposed but stripped bare and able to rebuild.
The rest of 2017 was one tiny step at a time until I remembered some things about myself that had been forgotten, I am kinda funny (well, I think I am), I am intelligent and able to consider things and weigh the arguments. I have a great wealth of compassion and empathy, which I may not apply to myself but gives me a sense of worth and fulfillment when applied to those around me. I have had to learn to be honest with myself and others in a way that is not jarring and to trust that people will do the same for me.
So in further pursuit of mental clarity and creating some cushioning for my next melt down I have set myself some goals (or resolutions, as I call them). As I mentioned earlier, I run, I like running as it keeps me on the straight and narrow (unless the path is windy and wide), it brings me focus; on my breathing, my feet, my surroundings. Most importantly; it is really hard to train for an event and hate yourself at the same time. Therefore to prove to myself and my enemies (all of whom take form in the dark recesses of my mind) that I can move forward, I can accomplish something, that my life has value beyond the foot of the bed, I have signed up for the Maximum Adventure Triple Threat and the Glow Worm Tunnel Marathon. These challenges will consist of a the 22 km Jabulani Trail Run in April, the Glow Worm Tunnel Marathon 42 km in June, 36 km Rafferty’s Coastal Run in July and finally the 30 km Coastal Classic in September.
What I aim to achieve by putting this all out there is to gain support and more importantly accountability. Beyond that I hope to share my experience with you, it will undoubtedly be a difficult road. I hope to start a conversation. I will challenge the stigma that exists around mental illness. I hope to draw attention to the internal battles that 1 in 5 Australians are fighting against themselves everyday. I want to open the avenues of communication and support and make people question there own beliefs and expectations of others.
I want to win the war.