So, we’re all going to die. When was the last time you remembered that? Do you ever think about it? The truth is none of us are getting out of here alive and one day your number will be called, as will mine. Some of us will have our number called for a while, like an exasperated Mum trying to coax her son in from playing football for his tea. He would have a chance to come to terms with the fact the game is over for him and say goodbye to all his friends. For some of us we don’t get that luxury, we get yanked immediately from the game by our earhole and we never see it coming. I read an article recently which suggested a positive way to look at terminal illness, the notion being that knowing you are going to die allows you to say everything you need to say to loved ones, make videos and photo albums and tick off several things on a bucket list. At first the article felt a bit controversial, but by the end did get me thinking another way. And that’s a sign of excellent journalism. So whatever you do, make time to let the people you love and who are important to you know it.
My illness feels pretty terminal sometimes. I was diagnosed with clinical depression a few years ago and I am slowly emerging from my fourth major depressive episode in 12 years. As I get older each episode hits harder, lingers longer and gets slower to recover from. I’m pretty sure it will get me in the end, either that or suicidal ideation, which I’ve suffered from over 20 years. My mental health issues do not define who I am because they weren’t a personal choice. My brain chemistry does not work as it should but I’ve held down a job for over 12 years, bought a house, had long-term relationships, a social life, a great group of friends and increased my self-awareness through therapy and education. All depression does is temporarily impede me, but do not for a second dismiss or underestimate the debilitating power of it. I’ve recently been studying brain development in children and attachment styles. I had a secure attachment with my Mum, (my primary caregiver), until I was 5 years old. Then something happened which caused me to develop an insecure attachment. My Mum was pregnant with my sister and was quite ill, so she was constantly in and out of hospital for the first five months of 1982. From being there practically 24/7, she was now seemingly AWOL and never around. I was told I had a baby sister coming, but I don’t think I really grasped all that would entail. Apparently I would get confused if I came home and she was there for a day or two. When she did come home for good with my Sister, I doted on the baby but rejected my Mum. I was angry with her at the same time as being comforted by her and having all my needs met again. This is the ‘ambivalent attachment’ style. It sounds to me like I’d gone through the separation phases of protest and despair and had begun to detach. The long term ramifications of this was the negative attachment style I developed as an adult called ‘anxious – preoccupied’. I suffered with separation anxiety when my friends or partner were gone a while and I didn’t feel secure in those relationships. I was terrified either would leave me and of course this impacted negatively on my behaviour. In an attempt to correct this later on I went to the other extreme and unwittingly adopted another negative attachment style; ‘Fearful-avoidant’. I would now keep people at arms length, act aloof and try not to get too attached for fear of becoming attached! I’m still working on this with my friends help and increasing my self-awareness and improving my communication skills and being empathic certainly aids in this quest.
The only antidote to my inner turmoil is love. I’ve been loved and felt secure. I have loved and felt secure. I know what love is. My only problem now is I’m petrified it will never happen for me again, the reason being I am extremely fussy and too complicated for some. I’m also getting on a bit, not that I act or feel it. I still feel 17yrs old in my head. When a Mum says to her child, ” mind out, that man wants to get through,” it’s still weird to think of myself as that fully grown man! Old people still call me ‘young man’ so that’s okay. The cliche goes, ‘you have to love yourself before others can love you’ doesn’t it? Well that’s bullshit. I have never loved myself. It is not possible to find happiness alone within my existence. None of us have a divine right to love ourselves. Some people have had to live imprisoned in their body, unhappy with the sex they are, and hating themselves. Whilst I have no qualms or doubts about my gender or sexuality, I do feel imprisoned and my only release comes from love. It shouldn’t be this way that I depend on others for my happiness but it is the stark truth. I need a reason to give meaning for my life and I haven’t found it anywhere else. Maybe because my attachment to life is ambivalent!
If you’re reading this, ask yourself these questions; How invincible do you feel? Who is more powerful, you or your god? If life is too short and oblivion is infinite, why do you choose to ignore, ostracize and expunge people from your life whom make mistakes? Some mistakes are big, some are repeated, but if a person shows remorse and seeks atonement and redemption, why do you deny them? We all make mistakes don’t we? Why hold a grudge? Don’t you think of yourself as a decent person? Doesn’t your god teach you forgiveness? The planet is billions of years old, it ain’t going anywhere, we are! We’re all gonna be dead and not know it for a fucking long time, so why pollute the gift of life with petty squabbles, stubbornness and fear? When someone reaches out to you they may not always get it right. They may be clumsy, they may be awkward and embarrassing. They may also misjudge you and your sensibilities. Don’t persecute them, otherwise you could miss out on the love that you’re looking for too.
I’m not afraid to die. I’m not afraid of there being no afterlife or post-death consciousness of any kind. I’m afraid not to live whilst I’m here, and it really is for just a short while. At the moment I exist, I remain and I function. There is hope and whilst there’s hope there’s life. But stop punishing, raging and dwelling, they are imposters. Take a risk, go for broke and never ever quit your dream.