Friday, 28 February 2014

An old poem I wrote

A friend of mine asked if I still had the short story I wrote in school that I referred to in my last blog posting but I had to respond that, although I thought I had kept it, the story has become lost in the mists of time.  I have tried to duplicate the original story on a couple of occasions but it proved impossible to duplicate emotional heart that the original piece had so I abandoned any future efforts.  I did, however, write a poem about that particular incident in my life and so I present it here as my friend showed an interest in wnating to read it.

A Cry for Help

‘A cry for help’ is what it was called
The story of a desperate man
Whose life so full of sorrow
Ends with razor cuts in a lonely hollow.

A cry for help written in metaphorical blood
His soul laid bare on lined paper.
The tortured psyche of a desperate boy
Hoping for someone to understand
And maybe lend a helping hand.

A cry for help just left unanswered
Left alone to carry this burden
For too long, too long.
The scars left unattended
The pain grows into undreamed of agonies
It ends with a handful of pills.

A cry for help that you ignored
The pain you could have eased
But you were blinded by ignorance
The clues you did not see
That the man in the story I wrote
Was merely a reflection of me.

© Myles Cook, 2005, 2006

Thursday, 27 February 2014

What made me the man I am today (part 1)

I may as well get some things off my chest while I still have time so I thought I’d write down the formative events that created the broken, emotionally damaged man who writes this blog and who cannot function in society. 

My story begins not at birth but at the age of seven when for some reason, still undetermined, my personality altered from the out-going, happy child I was into the introverted treader of the dark path I am today.  No one during all the group therapy and appointments with psychiatrists has even attempted to help me ascertain what happened at that age and I have no idea of my own, having no clear recollection of most of my early life except for the odd flashes of memory that surface from time to time and the stories I get from my parents that I cannot confirm or deny.  All I really know is that the change happened overnight and that, because it happened in the late 1970s, nothing was done about it due to either a lack of knowledge or a complete lack of any interest in my welfare from my parents.  I would have sought help myself if I had known that the feelings I had were anything but normal, however, I was of the opinion that what I was feeling was the normal everyday childhood angst and that every kid felt the way I did.  Of course, I suppose I should have realised differently by observing the fact that no other kid around me had the air of melancholy surrounding them but that’s the beauty of hindsight, isn’t it?

My parents realised quite early on in my life that I was the brightest member of the family, a fact that they will confirm quite openly so is not a case of narcissism on my part.  As a result, my parents kind of left me to my own devices as they could tell that they could offer little in the way of support regarding my educational endeavours and my older brother, who suffered with an undiagnosed case of dyslexia, required more attention.  Of course, this does not completely excuse my parents’ attitude towards me completely as I was later told that the reason they wanted two children was so that, when they shuffled off this mortal coil, they two kids would have someone to turn to in their hour of grief.  This meant, however, as I was the younger child, that I was really only born to be my brother’s shoulder to cry on and I have been treated as such whether they care to admit it to themselves or not.  My brother has always been treated as the favoured son and probably always will be and I have resigned myself to that role in perpetuity.  If I wanted any attention from my parents I had to take part in the activities that my brother engaged in so that I was caught up in his world.

My school life followed much the same path, being seen as Derek’s younger brother rather than an individual in my own right.  My brother was a competitive athlete so I was expected to be one too and, whilst I liked to run and was a pretty good long distance runner, I had no ambitions in that respect and so I became embittered towards running.  I also drew some flak from failing to live up to the competitive athlete role I was placed into from the school’s athletic team and the PE teachers.  I am, however, getting a little ahead of myself as the pressure to become my brother’s replacement on the athletic team was in my teens and I still have some way to go before I get to that part of my life; it just seemed like the most appropriate place in which to mention it.

My altered personality made me catnip for the local bullies and the kind of fair weather  friends that tend to hang around while you can provide help and entertainment and drop you like a stone when they find someone they really like or they can exploit in your stead.  My life started to become one of slow, inexorable isolation from the rest of my peer group although I still had some level of engagement with others of my age and it was at the age of about ten that I had my first schoolboy love.

Linda was a lovely girl from California, or at least that is my recollection, who was in my class because her father worked for British Airways and her family moved here for his work.  She was the first girl I ever kissed, or rather, she was the first girl who ever kissed me.  I had become a very shy boy by this point so it was Linda, backed up by several of her friends, who made the first move.  Whether it could really be called love is anyone’s guess but it felt that way to me but there was a problem.  Although she liked me and I liked her, a bully who liked to target me also liked her and I didn’t want to bring any more unwanted attention from him so I stood down and let her slip through my fingers.  I truly believe that if I hadn’t let that bully dissuade me from going out with Linda, I would not have fallen so deeply into depression and may still have had a chance at a normal life.

It was only a year later when I started to have suicidal thoughts.  I didn’t say anything to my parents because I still believed that the feelings I was having were normal.  I withdrew even further into myself and sank deeper into the depression that would dog my life.  The only bright spark in my dark world was my Grandma who was the only person who treated me as a person in my own right.  She treated both myself and my brother equally so we took turns spending our school holidays at her flat which were always my favourite times during my childhood.  She was always happy to see either of us and, as she lived just across the road from the flat in which we lived, we had ample chances to see her.  I never grew tired of the stories of her family even though I heard them on an almost constant loop throughout my youth.  If there was something my Grandma could do well, it was talking.

Where my parents seemed to ignore me, assuming that I was self-sufficient, my Grandma was always there for me whenever I needed the emotional support that I wasn’t getting at home.  Some may think from this that my parents neglected me and, from an emotional respect, they kind of did but I never went without what I wanted or needed from a financial point of view as long as it was in their financial means to provide it.  That being said, I felt as though I was a non-person at home so my Grandma became the most important person in my life.

During my teens, my family had a neighbour who was a recipient of the new ‘care in the community’ programme for people with mental health issues.  We had a fairly good relationship with him and my mother helped him out when he needed assistance to bind up his latest injury from whatever alcohol-related incident caused it.  The relationship would have continued to be cordial had it not been for a post-midnight visit from our neighbour.  I was awake so I opened the door to see what he wanted and he grabbed me around the throat and tried to choke me to death.  If it wasn’t for the fact that my mother heard the commotion and got out of bed to investigate, I would certainly not be here now.  My family never spoke to him again but, although I know he would never have been charged with the assault due to his mental health, I felt completely worthless when my parents didn’t even bother to report the assault.  My depression worsened as a result and it really couldn’t have gotten any lower at that point.

I continued to try to make friendships at school but they were mostly school-time only friends who I didn’t see outside of the school environment and I was still getting targeted by bullies who wanted to make themselves look like big men to their friends by picking on those seen as weaker than themselves.

I also started to find myself getting interested in girls and throughout my comprehensive schooling I fell for one girl after the other, either getting rejected or not even having the courage to ask them out in the first place.  And so it went on.  Julie was my first crush, followed by Wendy and finally Michelle.  I really had no chance with any of them but I spent lots of time pining after them and neglecting my homework.

My whole school career was a mess of not being engaged by the teachers so that, although I was learning the subjects, I wasn’t exactly ever going to excel academically despite most of my teachers saying that I had great potential.  That and the fact that I was constantly trying to make friends and failing miserably meant that my academic record wasn’t the best.  I was also being bullied quite a bit.

And, as if being bullied at school wasn’t bad enough, I was attacked by a man and his friend who decided to jump out of their car and rough me up because someone had tried to break into his car earlier in the day and he wanted to take it out on someone.  I still remember his registration number – TMT 371S.

During my last year of compulsory schooling, my depression reached almost suicidal levels.  It was at this point that I could have been spared a lifetime of journeying on the dark path if only my English teacher had bothered to take notice and flag up a particular incident.  The class was given a number of titles to pick from to then write a short story about; it was quite by chance that one of those titles was called “A Cry for Help” and that it coincided with a period of intense depression.  I loved to write but, as I like to take my time and choose my words carefully, I tended towards a slow rate of writing.  My preference was for science fiction as well which was not a favourite genre for my teacher.  The piece I wrote that day was the most heart-felt and deeply emotional piece I had ever written and chronicled the final journey of a man walking into a forest to commit suicide.  It entirely reflected my inner turmoil and suicidal ideation at the time.  It was, however, short and ended with the line “and the man’s name was...?”  Any responsible teacher should have highlighted it as something of concern and reported it but my teacher did nothing of the sort; she gave me a ‘C+’ grade for the piece and complained that it was too short and had a rushed ending.  If she had paid attention, I could have been saved but that was not to happen.

In the lead up to the mock exams in my final year I moved into my Grandma’s flat so that I could get some peace and quiet away from my brother to study for the exams.  This was the start of probably the best and worst period in my life as staying with Grandma for the exam period extended into living with her on a permanent basis.  I stayed with Grandma for the summer holiday following the exams and returned home at the end of the holiday only for Grandma to ask me to go back to live with her because she felt safer in the flat with me there.

It was the best period of my life up to that point because I finally lived with someone who really cared for me as an individual although there were still bad things happening to me at school.  In fact it was during this period that one bully attacked me during one of my evening walks and, shaken, I returned home to Grandma’s, got a knife and was about to go out to get him if she hadn’t have stopped me. 

Grandma really took good care of me but both our lives were about to be thrown into turmoil when, in 1987, Grandma suffered a major stroke and my life would never be the same again.

To be continued...

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Another day, another sad revelation

I woke up in bed this morning to find my beloved cat, Merlin, with his head snuggled into my armpit and his body pressed against my chest.  He looked up at me with sad eyes as I lifted my head and I could see the love deep inside those beautiful green orbs.  As I stroked his head and back I realised that my relationship with Merlin is probably the most loving one I have ever had and ever will have. 

Merlin’s unconditional love has been a boon in my life; he knows when I am sad and he always comes to me in my hour of need, even though we have times when our relationship is strained.  I once described Merlin as my ‘feline avatar’ in a poem and that is as true a description as I could ever come up with, although ‘son’ would also be an appropriate epithet. 

I don’t know how long he had been sleeping with me but he stayed in that position for fifteen minutes until the muscle weakness I have been feeling in my right arm meant I had to stop my gentle stroking.  I kissed him gently on the head and he looked at me again before silently saying “don’t take this the wrong way but I really have to change position – I won’t go far”.  He then moved to lay by my leg maintaining close contact with me.

Merlin reciprocates the love I give him and it is a sad testament to my useless life that I have only felt love like that from one other person, my Grandma.  Both she and Merlin have seen past the emotionally violent mood swings from which I suffer and the sometimes horrible person they turn me into.  They accepted me for who I am, warts and all, and seem to realise that my depression has a hold on me that I seem unable to break.  They forgive me my failings as a human being and realise that it is my illness that makes me difficult to live with, all the more amazing for my Grandma because I was not diagnosed with depression until about seven years after her death.

I’d like to think that I have been a good father to Merlin and he, in return, has been a good son to me.  I have nursed him through bad health and he returns the favour by always being there for me in times of emotional distress but it is a sobering thought to think that my relationship with Merlin is probably the most successful I will ever have.

In a month and a day, my benefit payments will cease and the energy drain I have been suffering with of late will be worsened by the slow ravages of malnutrition and starvation unless I get a miracle.  My income, meagre as it is, pays for my own food and tops up the deficiencies in my estranged wife’s income that pays the household bills as we have been forced to live together as we haven’t had the help of our local Housing Department to re-house us separately so we can go our separate ways and my wife can get the divorce she so desperately desires. 

The only point of light is the loving relationship I have with Merlin and it offers me solace in what will probably be my last few weeks.  I hope he truly realises how much I love him and how much his friendship and love mean to me.

It’s a sad revelation to wake up to but that’s how sad and empty my life has become since all my other avenues of diversion have been taken away from me.  Perhaps the Government is doing me a favour by ending my benefit payments because such an empty existence isn’t worth living.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

I'm so alone

I don't think that anyone could understand just how lonely I am at the moment.  I seem to be being turned against by almost everyone I trusted and my personal circumstances lead me to think that I'm living very close to the edge of almost certain non-existence.

It seems inevitable that I am heading straight into an oblivion in which my body will wither and die long after my mind and spirit have died.  I will find myself existing rather than living and I will have no one to reach out to, no one to share even the tiniest part of myself with.

Everything I have been working towards has been cruelly snatched away from me and I am left wondering if there is any point to trying to carry on.  I feel as though nothing matters any more and that I should just please my enemies by just letting go of this horrific life in the hope that, if there is anything beyond this life, it cannot be any worse than the one I'm in now.

This personal Hell has finally gotten the best of me and I just want it all to end while the simple act of death can give me some measure of relief.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

The way I'm feeling (or not as the case may be)

Following my last entry I was asleep for approximately another eleven hours before awakening into the Hell that is my life again.  With everything that has happened in my personal life lately, I am surprised that my brain even wants to bring me back to consciousness but it does so anyway.  I’ve not really much to get up for any more and the removal of the only thing to keep me going, all because of some thin-skinned, boy-are-they-going-to-have-an-extremely-harsh-wake-up-call-when-they-hit-the-real-world social work students made un-contextualised comments about me , has totally destroyed me.  I’m not saying that I haven’t made mistakes but how can one learn from their mistakes if one is not given the chance to?  Indeed, how can one learn from mistakes that one has not been informed of?

Since taking my new medication, my body feels completely numb and that’s OK because it merely reflects how my mind and spirit feel right now.  It’s funny but feeling this way is giving life to the isolation I’ve always felt living amongst the rest of the human race.

I feel so alone now.  I mean, I’ve always been alone, even during my marriage.  No one truly wants to be around me unless they want to use me.  No one cares enough to stand and fight in my corner.  No one really wants me for me; all they really want is someone to look down on to make themselves feel better about their lives.

I can already feel myself falling back into a state of unconsciousness and so I must sign off now, hoping that the darkness I find myself in during that state persists forever and that waking up will be a memory that never repeats itself.