I submerged into the dirty, cloudy water and thought “is this death?”. I had just leaped from a bridge in an attempt to end my life, aged 17, alone in Paris.
I’ve no idea why I wanted to commit suicide in Paris. I guess I don’t do anything in a non dramatic fashion.
I thought I’d drown, I thought I’d sink. I’d forgotten I’d swam for years (not a good swimmer mind you) and that my body knew how to float.
A day earlier, I’d decided while listening to Travis “A Good Day to Die” that I should stop being a burden on people. That I should get out of the way of people and stop being a nuisance, and a failure. This is how I felt about myself. My ‘reasoning’, if such a word can be applied to depression, was that if I was a useful and good person life would feel much different. Much brighter, much easier, much friendlier. It didn’t. So I reasoned the problem must have been me.
I’d debated jumping off a tall building. Heck, even the Ryanair shuttle bus dropped me off right in front of a perfectly tall hotel to do it. But I didn’t. Lucky. I’d debated jumping off a bridge a few storeys up onto lanes of fast moving traffic. That would do it. Again, lucky I didn’t.
I’d “suffered” before in my teens. The great struggle of just not feeling good enough, competent enough, and loveable enough. Just wanting to close my eyes so tightly it would all go away and I’d feel different than I did, which was unbearable.
When I found the bridge, I didn’t break stride to leap over the edge. I guess I knew if I hesitated doing that I’d be a failure at another thing. I needed to be brave and do it straight away. (Like I said, your reasoning is pretty warped when you’re that far down the dark hole.)
I genuinely believed I wasn’t being selfish, and that this was best for everyone involved. I really did think the world, and all my friends and family were better off without the terrible burden that was me. And yes, I just wanted the pain of being me to end.
I surfaced, and gasped for air. Bollocks. Now what. Amazingly, for February, it didn’t feel cold. I thought it would be freezing, but it didn’t. Maybe it was the insanity I was going through at the time. But it didn’t feel cold.
So I guess you could ask why am I telling this? Simple answer is I felt the need to write about it. Maybe it will help someone. I don’t know. It would be nice if it did, but really it’s to remind myself when I’m dealing with people that they’ve their own struggles too. And not to judge them straight away by their actions. Ask before you attack, I guess.
I floated underneath the bridge I’d just jumped off, looking to my right. My bag was keeping me afloat as I drifted, almost peacefully, down the river. Now what? My oh so brilliant plan hadn’t gone off. I tried to take in and swallow water, but I guess I couldn’t drown myself.
Floating down, I can’t remember if I cried. Because now my attempt was yet another item to the list of things I’d made a balls of. Or at least that’s how my thinking had been going for the last few months. I’d just been so desperate to make everything right in my life that each set back felt like a complete and total failure. That I was a complete and total failure. Being honest, writing this now, the desire to make everything perfect is something I still have. I’m not going to be arrogant and say it’s a strength or self effacing and say it’s a struggle. It just is.
Eventually, and by eventually I mean about two minutes after my leap, I got tired of being in the water. I saw a secluded bank I could swim over to, climb under the overhang, and hope death would just take me.
Honestly, watch this talk Brezzie gave on depression, and his interview here. It’s probably the most accurate insight into how I’ve felt over the years. And there is a shame to it. To me at least. You’re white, you live in a stable economy and society, and yet you’re depressed. It seems ungrateful. It seems like you should look at people with real problems and not the ones you’ve made up in your head, but still you suffer.
On the bank, I huddled up in a little ball. I’m fairly sure I was shivering but I can’t remember feeling cold now. I closed my eyes tight and just kinda hoped that something would happen. I may have fallen asleep. I can’t remember.
Telling people about your depression is hard. They treat you differently, for any number of reasons. It could be they don’t know what to say. And usually, all the well intentioned advice only makes it worse. It’s hard because you want to help, and mean well, but your brain distorts everything. For some it could be that it stirs up their own issues, and they’re not in a place they can deal with it. And yes, there are some people out their that will use it to their own advantage. Cunts will sense an opening. To balance that, there are some amazing people out there that do make you feel whole when you share with them. To understand it, read this and watch this as well.
After lying there in the muck for maybe an hour, nothing was happening. I saw a man walk onto his houseboat. I’d later try imagine the day from his perspective. He’s had a long day in a foreign country, and just come home from walking his dog with a pizza. All of a sudden some seventeen year old kid appears in front of him, shivering, and said he’d jumped the river. (I must have been En Seine! Too soon?) He had to comfort me, find me an ambulance, and was basically responsible for me until my parents came. Jesus, what a thing to ask someone to do for you!!
His name was Matt. He was from New Zealand. I never got the chance to thank him.
But first I had to pick myself up and make my way over to him.
Fuck it, I’d better live, I thought. My story wasn’t finished yet. Still isn’t.