One day, several years ago while I was still at university I was walking back to the little terraced house I shared with a medical student. Lectures had finished for the day and all the other students in my year had gone off in twos and three while I walked home alone.
It wasn’t a long walk, ten minutes at the most but it was a very lonely walk. Usually I could distract myself with my mp3 player or by phoning my parents or texting the Northern One but that day the music couldn’t drown out my thoughts and there was no answer to my calls or replies to my messages.
I stood on the pavement at the traffic lights, waiting for an opportunity to cross and found myself looking at a bus approaching the crossing.
In that moment I wondered what it would be like to die.
Seeing it written down it black and white is frightening.
But at the time it seemed like a decision no more unusual than deciding whether or not to phone my GP about my antidepressants, ask my parents if I could come home for the weekend or whether to ask student services if I could have some more counselling sessions.
The only difference was that these things only provided a temporary solution; a short-lived respite from the life that I found myself living. Nothing I tried ever lasted longer than a few weeks at the most and I was starting to feel like I was running out of options.
I took my antidepressants as prescribed.
I went to my counselling sessions and told them the while truth, no matter how ugly it was.
I used Rescue Remedy and Kalms and anything else that wouldn’t interact with my existing medication.
I tried to get out of the house and to exercise.
I didn’t drink alcohol or self-medicate in any other way.
Nothing was working.
I didn’t expect to find a magic solution; one specific tablet or herbal remedy that I took to find that all my symptoms had vanished. One amazing counselor who knew exactly what to say and told me what I needed to do to fix myself.
I was realistic in my endeavors and yet there was very little that relieved my depression in any way at all.
I still woke up in the morning knowing that I had to face the world, even though I didn’t know how I was going to cope.
I still struggled through the days feeling as though I was being crushed under the weight of my sadness.
I still battled to keep a lid on my panic and not have a full blown panic attack in public where everyone would see.
I still went to bed every night dreading the next day when I had to do it all again.
Ending my life seemed like the obvious solution to all my problems;
I look back now and wonder how on earth I could have thought that the only way out was to die, especially after everything I’ve been through since .
There were so many reasons to just step out into the road but at the same time there were so many reasons not to; reasons that I couldn’t ignore even if I wanted to.
I wanted to see the Northern One again.
I didn’t want to upset my brother.
I didn’t want my parents to have to go to the trouble or expense of arranging my funeral.
I didn’t want my housemate to be on her own in the house that we shared.
I didn’t want to put the bus driver through knowing that the bus he was driving had killed someone.
I didn’t want the emergency services to have to clean up behind me.
In the end I didn’t step in front of that bus; I could see that it was slowing down as it reached the traffic lights and I knew that if it did hit me I would be badly hurt but was unlikely to actually die, which wouldn’t really have improved things.
It could all have been so different.
The Northern One would be married to someone else (if he was married at all) and Squidge, my beautiful little boy, wouldn’t even exist.
As much as I thought that no one would really mind if I died, deep down I knew that they would. The Northern One would have lost a partner, my brother would have lost a sister, my parents would have lost a child, my housemate would have lost a friend.
There were lots of times when I thought I could just leave this life without really impacting on anyone but in reality it’s just not possible.
So here I am, sat at my kitchen table with the laptop, the dinner is bubbling away on the stove and Classic FM on the radio. The Northern One is sat on the sofa in the living room; I can see him if I lean sideways in my chair and look through the door. Squidge is asleep upstairs, dreaming about playing in the garden and splashing in the bath.
I sit here blogging about something that seems as though it happened a life time ago but at the same time seeming so recent that recalling it sends shivers down my spine and leaves me feeling small and scared.
What almost was.
The decision that I didn’t make.