Saturday, 11 January 2014

Heroes and Villains

I honestly believe only people who have suffered from depression can truly understand the impact it has on their life and only those who surround you at the time can understand how much it impacts on theirs.

As I sat there staring at the cuts on my arms the voice of my mother and the doctor echoed round my mind, not really registering and holding no meaning to me. It was like listening to a radio in an area with very bad reception, only a few words reached me. My mother cried as she explained to the doctor that all I did was talk of not wanting to be of this world any more, how the physical pain of the cuts was more bearable than the real pain and how I couldn’t feel anyone’s love. She couldn’t watch me all the time, she had a business to run and couldn’t afford to leave it but couldn’t risk not being with me. Is there anything harder than watching your child want to kill herself and not being able to hold her because if you do you may not be able to afford to feed her. These are the choices she faced.

Today this is the thought that hurts me the most. Knowing she suffered more than me and that I was too caught up in my own sadness to see hers. All she wanted was to have her little girl back. The little girls who once wrote, “I love the world and the world loves me”. The little girls who smiled all the time and gave her all her pocket money to a homeless man because she loved the music he played.

Her little girl.

Not this depressed teenager.

She just wanted to fix me.

The doctor suggested somewhere I could go. A special hospital that specialised in looking after broken children like me. He placed his hand on hers, looked her in the eye and promised I would be ok.

As we pulled up outside the building it looked more like a prison than a hospital. Tall grey walls topped by barbed wire. Cameras and locked doors. As we approached the doors someone came outside and greeted us. “Please don’t worry, she will be fine with us, we will take it from here.”And with that she was forced to leave.

We went into the building and up some stairs and into an office. A woman there handed me some tablets and preceded to ask me to hand over my shoelaces and belt. At this point I started to panic. There were bars at the window and a long corridor of closed doors. I was led to a tiny room with a metal bed and bedside table. There was no TV, no books and the walls were a pale blue bordering on grey with a concrete floor. As the door slammed shut behind me my silent tears turned to sobbing.

My voice caught in my throat and I coughed and spluttered on my tears as I screamed over and over again. “Please, Please help me.”

Eventually a man came and unlocked the door. He was so big his body filled most of the frame of the door, he barely let any light through. “You need to stop all this noise now or we will strip your room so all you are left with is the mattress. Nobody cares that you want to leave. You might as well get used to it. You are going nowhere.” I could tell by the menace in his voice that he wasn’t joking. My mouth closed but my body heaved with emotion and tears splashed gently to the floor. As I lay down on the bed I looked at the barred windows and wondered what I had done that was so terrible that I deserved to be locked up.

The following day I was allowed out of my room to sit in the TV room with the others. There sat other teenagers, drugged up to their eyeballs, lying around smoking. No one looked anywhere near getting better and I asked myself how long must they have been here to be so detached about it all. One by one they were led out of the room to speak to councillors and to take their medication. Mindless drones just doing as they were ordered to.
I knew that I had to get out of there before I ended up in that state.

That afternoon torrential rain fell and everyone seemed entranced by it. As they sat there staring out the windows I decided to leave the room and explore. I quietly slipped out and got towards the office at the top of the stairs. There the staff were drinking coffee and chatting about what they did at the weekend. Hoping they were distracted I slipped past the room and down the stairs. I waited behind the wall at the bottom of the stairs barely daring to breath and waited. Eventually someone came through the front door. I prayed to a god I barely believed in anymore that the person would walk down the corridor and not come up the stairs and somehow my prayer was answered. As their footsteps subsided I grabbed the door with the tips of my fingers before it shut, bending back my nail in the process, but I didn’t care. I was out.

The rain was pounding on my skin so forcefully that it hurt but I didn’t feel it. I ran as fast as my little legs would carry me towards the dual carriage way as I knew that farther along the road was a big hospital. My plan was to get to a phone and call my mother for help. As I reached the main road cars whizzed past me, drenching me more. I could almost see the hospital when a car pulled up alongside me and wound down their window. It was one of the women who had welcomed me yesterday.
“What are you doing? Where do you think you are going?” she said in a kind voice. “Everyone is looking for you.”
“I’m going to call my mother.”

“How? You don’t have any change? You are in your slippers for God’s sake. Get in the car. I can take you back, you can change into dry clothes and call her then. I promise.”

Reluctantly I got in the car, my slippers squelching on her car mats. She locked all the doors and almost immediately she changed.

“Have you got any idea what you have done, running away like you did? People could lose their jobs because of you.”

Anger dripped from her voice and fear coursed through every vein in my body. I knew then that I was hated by the staff and now I really needed to get out of there.

I was ungracefully thrown into my room where I screamed and cried until eventually she came back to my room. She stared at me as if I was an animal.

“You promised. You promised I could call my mother”

“I can assure you your mother doesn’t want to talk to you. However, if you are calm for the next hour we will let you call her. We will listen though and if you sound distressed we will hang up.”

So I sat quietly on my bed and waited. True to her word a little over an hour later I was allowed out to call her. As I spoke to my mother in English two of the French women stared at me intently, waiting for my voice to change.

“Hi mum, it’s me, I know I sound happy but I’m terrified. You need to get me out of her now.” I smiled gently as I spoke in jovial tones.

“I’m on my way.” Four words I will never forget.

A few hours later I was led from my room to the office and I watched her argue with the staff, demanding I be released. The staff argued I wasn’t healed, I needed help and they wouldn’t release me in this state. It was then that I noticed my mums boyfriend standing near the door and he quickly left the room. When he returned he was holding a sledge hammer.

“The lady wants her daughter. Now.”

This man covered in muscles and tattoos, who had repeatedly beaten my mother black and blue, who I loathed more than anything was standing there fighting for me to be released. They knew he wasn’t joking and handed over the paperwork for my mother to sign. As she did so the woman who had bought me back looked her in the eye and told her on her head be it.


When we got back home I fell onto my bed of freshly washed linen and looked at the glass of water my mother had just placed on the bedside table before she left the room.

I picked up the glass, looked at it, smashed it against the wall and used the jagged edge to cut my wrist. Home less than an hour and I watched as blood and water mingled onto the covers.

What happened next is something I will never forget. Amidst my mother’s cries and tears, the blood and the drama, my brother walked into the room. I hadn’t seen him in weeks and we barely spoke.

He ushered my mother out of the room and slowly started picking up things and throwing them out of the room. Books, cosmetics and clothes went flying out through the door way.

“If she won’t go to the hospital then the hospital will come to her.

My brother and my mother’s boyfriend emptied the room of everything while she physically held me in the room. Eventually, except the bed, there was nothing left. They used metal wire to tie the shutters shut and locked the window so only a meagre amount of light came through the slats and I couldn’t escape through the window as I had as a child. As he left, my brother told me that I would have to earn my things back.

I sat there in the dark. I screamed, I cried, I sobbed, I waited and eventually I fell asleep. When I woke I thought of the people who loved me. I thought of the pain I had put them through and made a vow I wouldn’t do it again. Slowly I tried to put the pieces of my heart back together and waited for it to heal. Slowly I got my things back. It started with one book, and one by one my room was filled again. I was fixed.

Sometimes I think about these two men. The man who beat my mother and used her, and my brother who bullied me mercilessly and never had a kind word to say to me. For that one day, my villains became my heroes and turned my life around. You never know who will have an impact on your life and who will help you heal.