“17th October 2016 – This was a very odd birthday. A very odd birthday indeed. I desperately wanted to spend it with my family and to enjoy it like any other birthday. But this was always going to be different, it was always going to be strange and it was always going to be difficult. To this end my birthday of 2016 didn’t really disappoint. ”
But my birthday wasn’t rock bottom. Rock bottom had arrived a few weeks earlier, about 6 weeks in fact, when life genuinely didn’t seem worth living. The low point was descending the Col de la Madone on my bike, closing my eyes and being happy to cycle off the cliff. I knew this wasn’t normal and it really wasn’t me! Only something horrific and totally out of my control could drive me to this point and what could be more awful than the break-up of the family that have been the centre of my Universe and I’d imagined that I would spend the rest of my life with. The details and the background to this situation still aren’t clear to me and for the purposes of me writing are not the central point. But suffice it to say the realisation of all of this came as a total shock to me. It hit me like a freight train and by this time, it seems, there was nothing I could do or say to change anything.
For my birthday the underlying emotion was one of sadness and personal failure. Sadness for my little boy. Sadness that the life I had been living so happily and I believed I was sharing happily with my wife and son was over. Sadness that these were the last few days in which my family would be a family.
I sat and watched Goodwill Hunting. Why might you ask? Well Goodwill Hunting has always been one of my favourite movies. A lot of it encapsulates me. Not that I’m a child orphan and I’m in no way a child genius or prone to outbursts of violence. But I have always admired those in academia and those people who are exceptionally clever and are modest as well and I have always loved Boston, ever since my first trip there to row in the Head of the Charles Regatta. I spent my 30th Birthday there and I guess this was me escaping to a time when I was care free and was taking a slice of what I admire in my father and those who inspire me.
I did receive some cards and some texts from friends and family and these were very gratefully received. My friends and family have been amazing over the last 6 months and to them I will be eternally in their debt. I’m not sure when I will have the mental capacity to repay them but I know that I will some day.
This wasn’t really a celebration. More of a day to mark the start of a new regime now. The firing gun to say enough is enough and the signal that now is the time to stop looking back and beating myself up about all the things I could have done differently and would like to change. The nod to myself that I can only control what I can control and 99% of the time that is me and what I do and not a great deal else.
The project is therefore simple, I have 365 days to rebuild my life and hopefully find a wonderful life in their somewhere. My cousin has always said ‘I was born smiling and I have smiled every day ever since’. Well for the last 6 months I haven’t. For the last 6 months I have been as miserable as sin. For the last 6 months everything has tasted sour and for the last 6 months my family and friends, my work, my sport and everything else that are normally so dear to me have been in a fog and that fog has driven me to the depths of despair. I never thought I would ever say this of myself but I have been mentally Ill and very close to giving up. Well 17th October 2016 is the end of that. Life is too short. Life is too wonderful and I have so many things I want to do and I want to achieve. I wish so much that I could control those around me. I have been trying so hard but I know, that right now, I can’t & I must stop pretending that I can.