Saturday, 12 September 2009

On The Big One

Eight years ago today I got in the car to go to work as usual (it was a Wednesday, not a Saturday as it is this year). I’d had a very usual sort of morning: drag myself out of bed, drink a glass of orange juice, sit in the bath and cry for half an hour, nibble a bowl of cereal, then get into the car. Rather different from my morning routine today, but that was how it used to be.

I left my flat, drove the 20 or so minute journey to work, and pulled into the car park of the large comprehensive school in the London borough of Haringey, where I was Head of Music. All seemed as usual until I tried to get out of the car.

My legs refused to budge. I couldn’t move. I called the school office from my mobile phone and told them I wasn’t feeling too well. I then drove straight to the doctor’s surgery. After a tearful appointment with a very unsympathetic doctor, I headed for home with a medical certificate and a stash of antidepressants.

I then went to bed. I didn’t get up again for two weeks.

In fact, the next date after that time that means anything to me is November 5th, when I was visited by an old friend, the same old friend who would eventually become my husband. He had to visit me at my flat because at that time I was still leaving the house only to go to my psychiatrist appointments.

The weeks between September 12th and November 5th are largely lost to me. I know that the world was full of turmoil, and I suspect I watched a lot of news (in those days I had digital TV and was in the habit of leaving the rolling news on 24 hours a day). I know that I still wasn’t driving again in November, and that I gave the car keys to a friend who had the car while I was too ill to use it. I know that I saw my psychiatrist, and I have vague memories of walking through Grovelands Park to visit the hospital from time to time. I remember huge pain in my head. I remember one night that nearly didn’t have a following morning (and am thankful to this day that the main effect a large amount of alcohol has on me is to induce sleep). I know that I must have checked my e-mail at some point, because I read a very significant e-mail that resulted in the meeting on November 5th.

Almost all other detail is lost, which is strange, because I usually have a reasonably good memory. I do remember the date though, every year, and not just because of the events unfolding in the world at the time. Eight years ago today was the breakdown that I now call “The Big One”, where I went from functioning human being to complete wreck in the space of a few hours.

I can hardly believe how much life has now changed, how much I have learnt about myself, and how my plans and ambitions have changed since that day. One thing never changes though – every year on 12th September I think about the years I nearly didn’t have as a result of what happened back in 2001, and every year the sun shines just a little bit brighter that day as I consider the wonderful things I would have missed out on if things had turned out differently.

9 comments:

  1. I can't imagine what it must've been like for you. A terrible time I'm sure, but conflict and hard times are the things that shape who we are and build character. I'm glad you're fine now.

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  2. Thanks for posting that.

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  3. very inspiring and amazingly, you deal with it so well....thank you for sharing!x

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  4. Know and understand where you've been.

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  5. Thanks for all your comments. As those of you who've read "On Being a Bit Bonkers" (July) know, I'm not out of the woods by any means, but things are SO much better now than they were then. Having support really helps. Also glad I was able to help a couple of others (who didn't comment here) who mailed me about their own depression problems as a result of reading this post.

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  6. This post bought a lump to my throat. You really do have a book in you, y'know.

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  7. Maybe I'll start writing then! You're so encouraging Mazza - thank you :)

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  8. You are so much stronger than you realise - and an inspiration x

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  9. The hardest part is sometimes in the surviving - this made me cry. A world without FB ratty pics would be a much poorer place for us here in the Snell-Pym household!

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