I was 18 in 1981
I knew I didn’t want to be a wife, a secretary, an accountant, a person doing a job to earn money to live in a home and go on holiday. I tried to find things that I really wanted to do. Travel and see the world? Not really, it may be fabulous but what’s the point in that? It’s just hedonistic, and I didn’t want to do things just to make myself happy. Maybe I should want to be the prime minister? No, I didn’t want to be important.
I would walk out onto the Cotswold hills at night, sit watching the lights flickering over Wales in the distance. Sit in my Paddington bear duffle coat, which I loved, alone on the hillside in the dark thinking that the world was beautiful but there was nothing I wanted from it or could give to it. These thoughts were at once profoundly peaceful and sad. I would cry because there was nothing that I wanted to do or be. I had no vision or desire for a future. These thoughts were mine, I shared them with no one, I did all the things I believed you were supposed to do, ate, slept, went to school, studied, looked at universities to go to. But it all felt like an act for the purpose of fitting in, not worrying anyone with my complete lack of interest in anything.
One March morning I walked out of school and went home. My parents both at work, one brother at Salford University another living in Didcot. Just me at my parents home. Warm, comfortable full of good memories. This was enough, this was all I needed, nothing more.
I collected all the pills I could find in the house. Had a hot bubble bath to clean my body for whoever had to deal with it afterwards. Took off the earings and necklace that I always wore. Carefully, neatly, placed them by my bed. Put on my pyjamas and my favourite hand knitted (by me) aran jumper. Went into the front room and put “Closer” on the hifi at a really high volume. I loved Closer, so beautiful. It took 3 pints of lemon squash to down all those pills. Pills are dry. Unpleasant to swallow.
I curled up on the sofa and fell asleep. Ian sang “Existence well what does it matter? I exist on the best terms I can.”
I woke up 3 days later in Frenchay Hospital. My first thoughts were “Shit, I’m still here, and now everyone knows I don’t want to be here”. The nurses had no trouble showing their disdain for someone taking up a valuable hospital bed when there are genuinely sick people around. Another girl on the ward had a broken leg and she persuaded me to push her wheelchair as fast as possible up and down the corridors. She was full of life, positively glowed and kept me away from the hissing nurses.
I was allowed home after a couple of days ‘observations’ and required to have weekly meetings with a psychiatrist as an alternative to being sectioned into an insane asylum. Charming. I’d rather not be in an asylum. Waking up in Frenchay was like being born again. Not in a Christian ‘I’ve seen the light’ way.
A new beginning nonetheless