A Letter to Myself
A Letter to Myself
These words are from Bobby. To himself. I was a helpless observer.
Bobby: “Back in 2013, I woke up in the East Surrey Hospital. Diddley and Maxine were at the foot of the bed. They said I had taken an overdose. All I can remember is that for weeks my world had been caving in. The reasons are not important. I was falling apart with anxiety. The doctor told me he was surprised I had survived that long. And gave me pills. On referral to Surrey Mental Health for the Elderly (they have changed the name now), they assigned me a community nurse. She gave me more pills. Different ones. Things got worse. Until one morning I couldn’t stand it any more and took a handful of pills. Suicide hadn’t crossed my mind. I just desperately needed some peace in my head. My mangled mind considering a good sleep and I would wake up in a brave new world. Instead, I woke up to Diddley and Maxine. ‘Would you like some grapes?’ Two days of wonderful care were shared with intensive care patients who all looked at me as though they despised me. Since they didn’t know why I was there, that was another factor in my tortured imagination. The top psychiatric doctor took me aside. ‘You have a choice, Bob. I can offer you a place at the Horton (mental hospital). But I must warn you that treatment is measured in weeks and months. You could easily be in there for six months with seriously ill patients. Or we can discharge you in the morning for you to fight the demons on your own.’
I chose home. Mike drove me. I wasn’t mad. It was the pills. Wasn’t it? And I broke all the advice. If you read this, don’t do what I did. I flushed every single pill down the toilet. The doctor came to see me. Uninvited. Was he suffering from guilt? Who knows, but the counselling for which I had been told had a six month waiting list was suddenly available the following week. I spent an hour a week with “M” for nine weeks. She was wonderful. Nothing complicated and I had turned the corner. Basically, she taught me to like – even love myself again. It still took months, but I was on the way back. Diddley played her part, christening herself “Nurse Ratched”. (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). Making sure she looked after me. She never mentioned what had happened or why. Friends couldn’t believe it. I knew I had to help myself and signed up for a mindfulness course. Once a week. A nervous wreck. I kept going until Mark the instructor said ‘I have an all day quiet day coming on a Saturday soon. All day in this hall where I tell you what to do but you say nothing. All day. Even at lunchtime.’
It seemed impossible. Friends could not believe it could be possible. But it was. In fact I had given myself permission to leave the mad world for a day and not need to talk. Phones were handed in to avoid distraction. It was so liberating. In fact I went back twice more to join other groups on quiet Saturdays.
Mark seemed to understand me more than most. He suggested I write a letter to myself. Stamp and post it. And read it one day when the time was right.
I just found that letter still in its envelope.
There is a sobering thought here. I could have killed myself by mistake. Nobody would have known that. My family and friends would have been saddled with guilt, anger, sadness forever. How many “suicides” are really mistakes? Accidents gone badly wrong. Instead’ my “Higher Power” gave me another chance and I won’t waste it.”
Mental Health Awareness Week
Its very appropriate for this story that we should be considering mental health this week. Back in 2013, just seven years ago, the world was very different. Someone like Bobby was on his own. His own family far too close to talk to about being barmy. Too crazy to expect friends to understand. The doctor too busy. “Have some more pills”. It’s probably the loneliest place in the world. Trapped in your own mind. So we are thankful for the new emphasis on looking after your mental health. And Bobby is always happy to talk to people about his experience now, in the hope that he can help others going through their own personal hell.
Lighting a candle for Diddley
Transcript of the Letter to Myself.
Time flies by. Time in which happiness could overcome depression/anxiety. There is always time for meditation. If you can do it in the group you can do it at home. Problems with health should not derail happiness. Yes, there are problems that others do not have. But then there are others who do not know what a love affair is like or what it is like to have children call you the best grandad in the world. Time, patience and positive thoughts will always help to lift the mood. Running away won’t. Go back to Al-Anon. Try cycling. Keep swimming. Keep loving those who love you. Try loving yourself. You have the basis for meditation. Try using it.
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