Home Personal Stories How suicide and alcoholism caused anxiety and depression
The front-page of the Didcot Herald, February 6th 1997

How suicide and alcoholism caused anxiety and depression

by Si

To say my life has been one hurdle after another would be an understatement. By the age of six, I’d already experienced loss, abandonment, abuse, and the consequences of alcoholism. Not to say I was an alcoholic at six… that comes later in my life. But I’m already getting ahead of myself.

When I was five, my dad committed suicide—the reason(s) behind what he did still escapes me to this day. But as an adult, with the same genes and the same conditions, I feel I’ve begun to relate to him. He took his life when he was 29. I’ve now outlived my dad. And while I didn’t get to know him, I reckon we’d get on like a house on fire.

Shortly after my dad died, my mum turned to the bottle. Not surprisingly long after that, I joined my brother through a string of foster homes. Some memories of that time have stuck with me, but most are a blur. I still thank my lucky stars that social services were there to help us. We could easily have been in a much worse situation!

Fast forward five years. My brother and I are now living in Wales. We’d caught another lucky break. But in my mind, this was a permanent solution to a temporary problem. “Why can’t we move back in with mum? She’s better now!”. Of course, she wasn’t better, and she would continue to get much, MUCH worse.

Life in Wales was both fast and slow. Slow in that I lived in a tiny village with nothing better to do than climb hills and smoke cigarettes, and fast in that I discovered the wonders of drugs and alcohol at an age where I was still attempting to shave my peach-fuzzed cheeks with a safety razor. I developed a relationship with chemicals pretty quickly. Before I knew it, I was blacking out quicker than Justin Trudeau and smoking enough to make Willie Nelson whitey (get so high that you vomit).

Throughout school, I would learn to hide the fact that I lived with my grandma. It turns out once people know you don’t live with your parents, they start to ask questions that you don’t want to answer. This mentality would stick with me throughout my adult life, being overly-cautious of what I said and did, just in case people started asking questions I didn’t want to answer.

Don’t get me wrong… by anyone’s standards, I was a generally likeable guy. I made friends with most cliques, and I could chameleon my way through most social situations. But deep down, I knew I was an imposter. I always felt like I was putting on an act to fit in with the crowd.

Come the end of high school, it was time for GCSEs (SATs), and I was a bag of nerves. Not because of the exams, but because I’d just spent the last ten years pushing my emotions down to try and fit in with the crowd. I felt guilty about being ashamed of my reality, and I felt embarrassed about feeling guilty. How fucked is that?!

Fast forward another five years, and I’m living in America (another story for another time). During this time, I worked hard, I went to college, and from an outside perspective, I’d left all my hardships back in Wales. Unfortunately, mental illness doesn’t work that way. Relocating with the idea of escaping yourself seems rational at the time, but you quickly realise that what’s going on within you can’t be fixed by changing what’s going on around you.

Creating a new life from that shaky foundation only made things worse. My emotional suppression started to take on a physical form: blushing; sweating; workaholism; depression; alcoholism; and lots of other -ism’s.

I’d left all familiarity behind in Wales and felt like I’d hit emotional rock bottom. My sorrow was drowning in a mixture of alcohol and amphetamines. I started to have panic attacks. My self-hatred and social anxiety had hit their peak, and I couldn’t see freedom without the aforementioned -ism’s. Of course, I wasn’t aware of these inadequate coping tools, so I continued to use them, even introducing harder drugs as they seemed to do a more effective job of helping me escape my reality.

Skip to the present day and I’m back in England. While I’m still not “better”, I’m holding a steady job, and by anyone’s standards, I’m doing bloody well. If you take a peek around, I placed the pixels that surround this text. See, during my workaholism phase, I picked up a thing or two about coding websites. Website development offered me a medium to coax my anxious brain into creating tangible things.

While I realise I’ve essentially put my mental illness to work, I’ve also admitted to myself that I have a problem. That’s the first step to recovery, right? I know there’s a long road ahead of me, and I’m working every day not just to feel better, but to try and BE better.

T.S. Elliot once said “The journey, not the destination matters…”. Looking back on my life, I realise that no more useful words have ever existed. I have a lot of material to work from, and regardless of my destination, I know that my next journey will be a lot easier than my last.

Related Posts

We use cookies to collect information about how you use this website and give you the best online experience. You can change your cookie preferences at any time. Accept Read more