Friday, October 31, 2014

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Some Reflections on my Life up to Age of About 15

Guest writer Cormac Ryan with an account of his struggle against depression.

Earlier in the week, I was listening to a song that contained the lyrics "Please help me, I'm alone and I'm drowning". It pretty much floored me and, apart from listening to that song repeatedly, I've done little else for the rest of the week. Drowning, I can relate to.

When I was a boy, one of the games I used to play with myself was racing to a given point, a telegraph pole, a lamppost or a tree, and if I reached there before counting to a particular number the prize would be that God would let me die before my next birthday.

For pretty much most of my life I think I have basically just not wanted to be here. Not wanted to live. A substantial part of it I've actually been wishing to be taken away, and most of the other time has been just not wanting to exist.

I was born in late 1980, into a family that was still reeling from the death of Baby Stephen less than two years previously. As much as I'm sure they tried for it not to be, it must have been incredibly tough for my four grieving family members to deal with their ongoing sorrow coupled with the turbulence of another baby arriving into their home.

Then, a short time later, when I was one, I died. Or nearly died. That is to say, apparently I was clinically dead, or pronounced dead at one point. So it took me a good while to recover physically and emotionally from that trauma. My speech was impaired for a long time as I slowly gathered myself back together in the time after.

A few years pass, as I move on, but the one thing I do remember is the hardship facing the day each morning. I don't remember much from that time, but I do remember how tough it was facing each morning. And, that's something that has never stopped from then 'til now. Mornings are hell. Having to accept every 24hrs that you're still fucking alive can be soul destroying.

Then the bullying started. I mentioned that before in my Q&A a couple of years ago. Real creeping low grade stuff, but it built into a crescendo and maintained that of me being treated like a dog by those that should have been my friends for a solid three+ years.

So, by the age of 10, 11, or 12, I just felt really fucked. Totally fucked. In latter years, people often guessed that I was feeling bad because my folks had split up, or something of that ilk. To be honest, at that point (my parents split when I was 14) I already felt so fucked I'm not even sure how much it registered. Honestly, I kind of brushed through it with a general feeling of numbness. It felt very manageable.

Likewise when the local nonce forced himself on me one night. Thanfully, I fought him off. But I remember pacing up and down my room trying to process what the feck had just happened. And then I didn't thing about it for years. I just passed it off.

I remember with both the bullying and the nonce not wanting to tell anyone because I was afraid that my big brother would do something to get himself into trouble.

So, drowning ... sometimes when i'm swimming in the sea, when I jump in and am totally submerged, that can be the best part of my day. When I'm there under the water, sometime I find myself thinking, "just don't go back up", "stay down, to feck"... "Who'll miss you?".


AM said...

Fair play Cormac. An issue very much in need of wider public discussion. Takes courage to come forward.

Aine said...

A very open honest piece, and it took conviction to write it let alone to put it in the public sphere - I can't imagine what your daily struggle is like - but I hope that by opening this conversation up you help others to talk about their own emotions and thoughts.
you are still battling daily with your own and I hope you continue to win that battle day after day.

Cormac said...

Thanks Aine,kind words.

It felt good and helpful to just get it out there. And, thanks Anthony for carrying the piece.
It's been an incredibly emotional day. One of the things is an utterly crushing lonliness, feeling of worthlessness and sense of isolation (alone in a crowded room). The outpouring of support from family and friends, some that I don't even know that well, has been both uplifting and incredibly humbling. There's a lot of love in people.

A long road ahead, (I don't know if I'll ever write the second part from the age of 16 onwards!!) but today feels like an important step along the way.

One love.

Cormac xxx

Tain Bo said...

I am very much in agreement with Anthony it takes a great deal of courage on the issue of depression wider discussion is definitely needed.

You say you have done little else all week which I understand however you took a big step away from your private agonies in a brave piece now in the public domain and that alone takes a great deal of inner courage.

I can relate with your dread and can understand it to a certain extent as we cannot ever fully understand the workings of our own minds let alone another’s.

I still to this day fight the similar battle of self, drifting in and out of severe to moderate depression depending on the day that often runs into weeks. That has been ongoing from the 70s but back then I learnt to disguise my moods along with the fact that it was written off as just that being in bad form.

I am not sure why but I managed to a degree not to worry or debate how am I going to fill the time between waking and struggling against myself waiting for night and the thought of sleep that would for a time keep the demons at bay.

A wee while back I took to the Quill with an article entitled, Suicide Narrative Makes No Sense. I was reluctant as in it I exposed my own problems with depression.

In a sense it was cathartic facing off with the stigma attached wrongly by society and opening up which is usually a very private and silent world give me a sense of relief.

I understand the wishing it over I still have nights of ironic hope and encouragement that I won’t see another day. I have a morning ritual with a wee reminder sitting on my kitchen table which I talk and at times argue with out-loud in a sense letting it out and might repeat several times a day depending on how I feel.

I bypassed the concern for who will miss me and replaced it with a more personal question will I miss myself… you have made it this far in your battle and I understand the overwhelming feeling of isolation though there are many who suffer the same and
I hope your thoughts will provide some hope to others especially younger people who wish it would all end.

I hope you do pen the next piece if for no other reason than to let it out of your mind for a time.

Cormac said...

Tain Bo, thanks for taking the time to write that. In as much as we use the term 'solidarity' in the political context, there is wonderful human solidarity in your post.
Thank you.

Tain Bo said...


thanks, I never thought about it that way in terms of solidarity on this issue that is exactly what it is.

It is a paradox the brutal silent enemy within convinces us not to fear death, escalating the misery, convincing us that life is meaningless to the point we wish it away. That may sound selfish to people who don’t suffer from depression and in a sense it is selfish as others with terminal illness or an illness that affects the quality of their life wish the opposite and want to hang on as long as they can.

Though it is the hopeless disconnect that affects the quality of life for the depressed it is like thousands of plugs being pulled at the same time and the mad scramble to reconnect them in the right order managing to get a few but overwhelmed by the thousands of wires crossed a crushing daily routine at some point it is best to stand back and look at it and think I need some help to sort this out.
That help begins with those we are closest to it is not a cure but can put a wee bit of balance on the seesaw of depression the those that would miss us as much as we would miss them if they were gone.

Hopefully you will consider writing the follow up as your first article put some new thoughts in my mind and has some hope in-between the lines. Don’t be a stranger on the Quill it is a good distraction away from the noise,

Best wishes Cormac and keep winning the daily war