I remember when I was at my lowest, which was ironically when I was at a high point in Norwich – on the ninth floor of John Lewis.
It was just after Christmas when my career as a teacher had ended and because I was institutionalised and felt there was nothing else I could do to earn money, I’d set off to Norwich.
If you know the city, it’s an excellent place: vibrant, cosmopolitan and safe, but for me, I couldn’t, at that point, appreciate its charms as I was gripped in clinical depression.
Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t set off to John Lewis thinking “Ninth floor, multi-storey, great place to die” – I drove there to distract myself from the fact that my wife, son and daughter had all returned to school, but I was barred – that door had been closed to me for good.
And I was so bitter about it.
Parking up, I opened a What’sApp message from a Doncaster mate Richard, who asked “What was I up to?”
I replied, “Norwich, John Lewis, 9th floor, thinking of suicide.”
I got a curt reply: “You fucking idiot, don’t be daft. They’ve done you a favour – you could be back at shitty schools today.”
My mind wasn’t operating correctly so I did wander over with iPhone 6 in hand and peer over the edge.
I’d no intention of jumping – but my counsellors called it suicidal ideation, where you visualise your death and think about it momentarily.
I didn’t jump of course – who would with the John Lewis technology department and its five year standard guarantee on offer to end up instead dead on the basement – but I can see why people consider it and do it.
I felt there was no solution to what I’d been through in education and the best cure was death.
But what would that have done to my wife, friends and children? It might cure my deep depression but what a selfish act it was on my part.
Now, when I habitually park on floor 8 or 9 solo or with friends, I call it the suicide level, Norwich’s Beachy Head.
Real gallows humour that.
I realise too that support, time, talking, better lifestyle choices and accepting that Richard was right – I was mourning a shitty job, led by shitty people – would make me better.
3 years on, I’m better.
The black dog of depression has skulked out of my head.
I’ve chosen a different path, a new door, and life is sweet now.
Taken 3 years to recover, but, last week, on the ninth floor, I loaded a 4K TV into my car, instead of para-medics loading my body into an ambulance, which could have been an outcome in 2015.