Driven To Despair, But Finding The Reasons To Live

  Posted: 18.05.20 at 21:18 by Connor Sams

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I remember seeing it so well.

The fear. The shock. All unable to speak. Tears roll down their faces when they hear the truth.

My colleagues, my friends, my brother. My mum.

And it was all my fault.

And this is my story.

Normally this would be where people introduce themselves and tell an interesting fact about themselves. But what if you don't have anything good to say about yourself?

Connor, hiding his face while with his mum, dad and brother

I constantly mess things up for people around me. I'm always making people go out of their way when something goes wrong. I'm forever letting those I love down. I am not a good person anymore.

I used to be, however. I used to be the life and soul of the party. That guy that people just wanted around. Hardly a hunk but could charm regardless. Everybody's shoulder to cry on and friend to laugh with.

I guess I was always headed here. I was always doomed to reach this day.

It’s impossible to pin-point where this all began.

Maybe it was at school? Bullied for falling in love. Is the love I feel for another lad wrong compared any other guys for his girl?

Maybe it was from college? Experimenting with everything that we could just to pass the time, did I destroy myself then?

With friends

Maybe it was after when my friends dispersed around the world and I stood still having only scraped through?

Maybe the feeling of unemployment for the first time since I was 14, that changed my life?

Maybe three deaths in six weeks was the clincher, but maybe it was all of these things? 

But I know when I started plummeting; it was the night I got the news an old friend of mine had taken his life.

You never know how you will react to news like that. I always imagined with dread how I would act - fall to the floor, silent. It didn't work out that way. I don't remember much of the 24 hours following that, but I know it ended with me breaking, screaming into my brother’s chest as he tried to offer me support.

Then deciding to leave, off to drown my body in town. 

Over the next few months I tried to put my friend's passing to the back of my mind and within six months, news of two other deaths reached me. But it was already too late. 

I was already ill.

Kindness is the theme

At only 21, I had managed to drink myself into debt. How pathetic am I?!

It makes the hurt go away, sometimes at least. If it didn't, the pain of my lit cigarette against my skin blocked it for me. 

Considering hide and seek was never my strongest skill (I was always hiding in the closet), I hid this self-loathing very well. And I had the perfect defence tactic... if someone is getting to close, push them away for good.

My way of protecting myself very nearly killed me. 

Fast forward another six months of isolation, anger and grief. I've planned every detail. I've secretly said my goodbyes. The letter is written.

There's only one thing keeping me going now - that glorious feeling of the wind rushing past me as I fall from the bridge to me death.

I was alone. Nobody cared.

My friends were bored of me and my misery and didn't want to know. I was a burden on my family. I owed so much money. I had no future. I had lost everything I cared about. There's only one thing I can do to help those I care about now.

My death was the best gift I could give them. 

I don't remember a lot of that day at work.

Something gave me away. I remember being in a room at work, alone with my boss. I remember her question so vividly...

"I need you to be honest with me. If you left this office now, would you try to take your life?"

Tired, vulnerable and broken, I nod.

I was left in the room alone while my mum received, quite possibly, the worst call of her life. She won't talk about that call. But although she was there within 20 minutes I couldn't help feeling even more pathetic.

I had failed. I was still alive.

I don't remember the night ever being so long. I was desperate to steal my keys back and drive to the towering structure. The thought of that fall, that beautiful fall. Stolen from me, just like the world and its horrors had stolen my soul.

Sitting at the hospital. Two nurses and a student interrogating me. The anger I felt was more than I ever felt. How dare they use me as some kind of a course for some student to learn from? Is that all my life was now? I'm determined now.

They want to hear how I feel? Fine. I want to die. I want my pathetic shell to be broken all over and my body burned and thrown out in the trash. But there's something else... I hear her sobs.

The amazing woman who has dedicated her whole life to me - she was breaking right next to me.

This is it. This is the point where I have to choose. She already nearly lost me when I was born. Does she deserve this?

After their discussion outside, the three members of staff came back into the room with two others. 

"We have a bed in the mental health ward. We would like you to stay..." 

Squeezing her hand, I tell them in no uncertainty...

"No. I can't. I cannot leave my mum" 

My mum explains she needed a friend. A family friend, friends with our family for years, lent an ear. When she heard how badly I wanted to die, her heart broke too. I didn't expect this... my household is one thing but this?

Two days later, I'm sat at home. Messaging to my best friend in the world. I tell him the bare minimum I can - but I forget how well he knows me. Two hours later he is here, bringing the rest of our team with him. My four best friends are stood in front of me. They tell me they need me to be honest and tell them what's happened. I see in their eyes that I have to be honest now.

 I want to die."

As I explain they stand in shock. The girls with tears rolling down their cheeks, one lad looking winded, while my best mate pulls me in for a hug.

They stay with me tonight. Hours of talking, reminiscing, and for the first time in a long time, real, true, laughter.

Support keeps on coming, extended family and friends sharing their love, showing me I do have some kind of future if I choose to take it.

My boss, having been calling me daily, mentions that she will need tell my colleagues that I will be off work for a while. Knowing any workplace, the rumour mill is going to be in overdrive. But then, everything is in the open now. 

"Just tell them the truth, tell them I'm ill"

 I did not expect it. Messages from my team and further afield sending me their love and wishes.

People I thought hated me are literally crying due to how ill I am. 

That was when I realised...

I'm not abandoned. I’m not hated. I'm still the same old me, that's who people see. I'm not a burden, my death is not what they want...

My family, friends and colleagues are standing with me.

There's only one thing I need to do now.

I need to fight this illness. 

I need to survive.

Connor Sams

This article originally appeared in Shotley Peninsula News and Features
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