CW: Depression, despair, suicidal thoughts.
It is strange to look back on my rock bottom now, three years after the event. I can view these times with a certain clarity, knowledge and understanding as to what led me there. Burning the candle at both ends and getting into spoon debt, plus a substantial medication change and digging through traumatic details in my counselling sessions. There is no avoiding the fact that I was exhausted- emotionally and physically- and dark, but this is the hardest day I have ever survived. Yet, survive I did!
I knew something was badly wrong the monday morning after my birthday weekend.
I had been struggling with my depression for months and had recently decided that if I faked being well it would automatically mean I was well. The trips, the play dates, the events… The proverbial swan. I gave the impression of being cool, calm and collected, yet beneath the water I flapped my flippers in order to maintain the poise. I was in such a state I didn’t realise my emotional exhaustion, was blind to it entirely.
Somehow, that Monday morning, I got my children to school. One lady on the staff has taken great interest in my support over the years my children have been in attendance. She took one look at me that morning and asked how I was. A frown crossing her face. When I dissolved she took me in for a cup of tea, and then sent me straight to the doctor. Fortunately this is just over the road from the school, so no time for me to chicken out…
You know what medical receptionists are like? They are the gatekeepers, and the lady I spoke to that morning was fierce! Perhaps she wasn’t expecting me to croak out the words “I’m struggling”, or the body shaking sobs that humiliated me in front of the queue of waiting patients, but as soon as she found my file on her screen she softened. I went home, and by the time I arrived she had made good on her promise to get my GP to call. We’d worked together to create a management scenario for just this occasion.
For when, not if, I hit rock bottom.
He talked me through the questions we had worked on during previous appointments. The plan was for me to get myself up to Dartmoor. My Dartmoor. My safe place. “But I just want to go to sleep” I moaned down the line. He was insistent. The plan we had created, no-no… The plan I had created with his support had me going to the moor. Even just with a travel mug of tea and a biscuit. Under the big sky with it’s restorative powers, that’s where I needed to be.
And so I went. I did what I had previously decided I needed to. Making my way to a spot that allowed me to take in many aspects of my beloved Dartmoor. The tors, the trees, the river, the man made tribute to religion and, most importantly, the sky! I had my hand bag, my walking boots and the aforementioned cup of tea in a travel mug. Sitting there, looking out over the landscape, I dug my hand into the fabric bag slung over my shoulder. Looking for a snack, as I knew I should try and eat something, but finding only a couple of hanks of red rope. It was on loan from Dr Lovelace, I had used it in my outfit for the collaring ceremony and club night. Passing it from hand to hand I formed different plans for it’s use.
This is when I knew it was rock bottom I had reached.
My normal reaction to rope is to think up a way to restrict myself, or even to decorate myself. On this morning I just looked round for an anchor point. I knew I was failing at life, as a daughter, friend and mum. All of it. Just… no. I had nothing to offer, nothing to gain. The end of me would be the start of a beautiful future for my children, they deserved better. This remains the only time I have not been brought back to myself with thoughts of my children. Like I say- rock bottom.
But I am still here, and have been on the up ever since. What stopped me?
I am not the only person I know to say that rope has saved their life. I recognise the positive impact it has had from my early days of self-tying. Setting (and achieving) mini goals. Learning new skills. Teaching people. Forming connections with others. Creativity, concentration, tactile meditation… the list goes on!
But on this occasion it was something else. The pain I was in felt insufferable. But the rope in my hands was not mine. My children may have been better of without me (I know, this isn’t true. But at the time…) However, Dr Lovelace is such a wonderful friend and this was HER rope. If I used it to execute my plans then I would, potentially, be tarnishing her love of rope. Her solace in an otherwise dark world. How selfish of me to inflict that kind of pain on her just because I couldn’t bear to face another day of this torture.
And so I used the rope to create a simple leg tie.
Then I finished my cup of tea, facing the cold, mid november winds on that isolated rock somewhere in the middle of Dartmoor. I found my way back to the car, back home, into bed. I set my alarm and slept. Dead to the world, for a few hours.
The following day I met my counsellor for our pre arranged session, we talked through the day before and the days leading up to it, highlighting my weekends failed plans. My GP called, the school offered support. BUt most importantly, I started to climb again.
Slowly, taking teeny tiny baby steps, I inched away from my rock bottom.
And three years later, though I have my moments, life is so far removed from that nightmare. It was worth persevering.