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March 2018

Please Speak Out

I am writing this for anyone who is suffering at the moment. Please speak out, there is always a solution and there is a way for you to move forward.

June 16 was the worst time in my life. My partner had just suffered a 3rd consecutive miscarriage in a year which was heart-breaking enough as it is. Only this time it had to be medically managed which consisted of her being forced into labour. She was taken into hospital put into a private room and given some tablets. It left her in excruciating pain for 24 hours with very little help from nurses. Just me holding her hand whilst she screamed in agony and cried for her mum whilst I sat there helplessly.

I was already quite low from the previous two miscarriages being so close together, but the feeling after this was of devastation, I have never known a feeling like it, I was completely broken. I was overcome with grief for my unborn child, and was unable to function in normal life at all for months and months. I lost all appetite for life finding joy in nothing. Like a dark cloud hanging over me. I physically couldn’t get up in the morning, had no energy, and would go straight to bed when I got home just lying in a dark room. I recently read from someone who had been through similar that it’s like living in a dark cave which is a great description. The sadness and sense of worthlessness is completely overwhelming. Completely debilitating.

At the same time I was also wracked with guilt for what I had put my partner through. I felt like all the pain she had gone through I had caused. Why would I put someone I love through that? Why couldn’t I help her more? Why did this have to happen to her. She lost both of her parents at a young age and this meant everything to her.

After the miscarriage she required 2 explanatory operations causing more pain which I viewed as my fault. her only support is me, I am all she had so outwardly I had to put on a brave face and remain strong for her when I felt so awful.

On the train to work one morning I just fell apart. I could feel myself welling up out of nowhere and managed to get off the train at the next stop and walk away from the station. In a side street I broke down, sobbing uncontrollably. The pressure was too much for me, still grieving, whilst remaining strong for my partner and trying to function in a normal life I was unable to cope and felt completely worthless.

Unfortunately I found no support in my own family who I don’t think understood the level of my grief and by and large have made me feel like I had done something wrong. My lowest moment was on my birthday when not a single member of my family wished me happy birthday. I already felt utterly worthless and I am not even worth a phone call from my own family on my birthday? At this point I sunk even lower and with nobody to turn too I began to consider my own life. It’s hard to understand if you have never been suicidal, but the thought of being able to lift yourself out of the dark place you occupy not only seems like a sensible option but also leaves you elated. Gradually thoughts of jumping off a bridge or hanging yourself become overwhelming not because it will end things, but it will make you really really happy and it is all you can think about.

Work was difficult. Some days I physically couldn’t take it. I would get off the train and rather than go to the office I would just walk around for hours on my own. Or if I did go in I would make excuses to leave early, or go to lunch and not come back. I knew I was jeopardising my future and with a mortgage to pay caused my more stress and guilt as I knew sooner or later I would be sacked but I just couldn’t help it, I was completely lost in grief.

My partner fell pregnant again, however with our history our expectations were low. Still grieving we waited for the inevitable to happen again. My first thought every morning would be is this the day my heart gets broken again. I felt guilty for what my partner would inevitably go through and I now had an extra anxiety on top of the grief, guilt and pressure from work.

I decided to get a new job, thinking that it would revitalise me – worst mistake of my life! You can’t really start a new job where nobody knows you turn up late everyday make excuses to leave early and not do much in between and expect to get away with it, and pretty soon my performance came into scrutiny.

Against all odds the pregnancy progressed but my mood didn’t. Feeling worse and worse every day. By now I was so anxious my hair started to fall out and the suicidal thoughts became more regular, even googling ways to kill myself.

The only advice I got from my family was to relax and enjoy the pregnancy What a ridiculous thing to say, when you are still grieving the loss of a child and absolutely petrified that it will happen again. Never mind the previous 2 miscarriages all that occurred in the last 18 months. I can’t just forget it never happened .

I was warned by a midwife that I was in denial and if I wasn’t careful I would ‘crash’ after the baby was born – obviously she was unaware of just how low I was to begin with.

The pregnancy went full term and eventually my beautiful baby boy was born. The first few days were wonderful but unfortunately the midwife was right I found myself in utter despair wracked with guilt and anxiety before long. It was only a year from my partners last miscarriage and I felt guilty as though I didn’t deserve it.

Barely functioning I was told that I was being performance managed at work. Basically I was being managed out of the company so on top of everything else, as the sole breadwinner in the house I faced the prospect of being unemployed with a mortgage to pay and a new-born baby.

It was hopeless. I didn’t feel fit to be a father and literally all I could think about was killing myself. I felt a burden and thought my son would be better off without me. At least he wouldn’t have to grow up with someone as worthless as me as his dad – he wouldn’t have to know the truth. At least I couldn’t let him down if he wasn’t here.

I walk through some woods to get to the station in the morning. Everyday all I could think about was getting hold of something to hang myself. Could I use my belt? Could I find a branch? when I got to the station I would have to fight my legs from jumping in front of the train sometimes, I could feel myself moving towards the track and literally have to hold onto something to prevent myself from jumping. at the other end I would consider jumping off a bridge, then at work all I could think about was what pills could I take to overdose at home that night. I had also started hurting myself. Not self-harm as such but would repeatedly headbutt walls, hit myself with pieces of wood – anything. It just seemed for a split second to take the pressure and huge burden I was feeling away from me.

The baby wasn’t well which put more pressure on us both and I knew I was making things worse. I couldn’t carry on. That night I lay awake as my partner and baby were sleeping and I couldn’t fight it anymore. I got dressed and decided to jump off the pier near us into the Thames. I was completely calm, it just seemed like the only thing I could do, even googling high tide so as to find the best time of me achieving my aim of drowning. I couldn’t even get that right! It was low tide until the morning! I went back to bed and the next morning rather than attempt suicide finally confided in my partner how I felt.

She took me straight to the doctors and did all the talking for me as I didn’t have the words to explain just how helpless I felt. I just sat there trying not to cry! The doctor was great, and understood straight away how I was feeling, almost putting words into my mouth and it was lovely understanding that I wasn’t actually insane. I was prescribed anti-depressants but after researching them I found out that they could make you feel worse for a couple of weeks before I felt better and I didn’t think in my state of mind I could cope with feeling worse for whatever length of time. In moments of clarity I realised killing myself was a stupid idea but I just couldn’t see a way out.

She also arranged for me to see a councillor which first happened the week after. I almost didn’t turn up. I just didn’t see the point thinking it a waste of time. When I arrived I was given a questionnaire to fill in on my mood and I was told that my scores were incredibly high and she would have to right to my docs etc as a suicide attempt could be likely.

However within an hour she had picked apart what was going on in my head. I was suffering from severe anxiety brought on by the grief of multiple miscarriages with the pain of the last pushing me into a severe depression. The fact that I was trying to hold my family together all the while, problems of work and the lack of compassion from my own family were all mitigating factors. I immediately felt better. We spoke about me, and what I liked doing plus my reasons for not taking the anti-depressants and we discussed other options. Enjoying physical exercise, she suggested that boxing was particularly good for anxiety. I Left, with a huge sense of relief so pleased that I decided to go, and that how I felt made sense, and finally I could beat this.

Just 24 hours later I ventured into a local boxing club for the first time. I was immediately made to feel welcome and accepted into the group even though physically I couldn’t keep up with others. I managed to finish the session, completely exhausted my head throbbing, but I had an hour and half with my head clear and it felt fantastic. Even better was they asked me if I would come back. Having felt worthless for so long it was great realising perhaps I am not after all.

I awoke the next morning feeling happy for the first time in nearly 2 years. It was a feeling I had forgotten it had been so long – feeling alive and not under this cloud. The downside was I was in so much pain after I couldn’t move for about 4 days! Regardless I couldn’t wait to go back.

My next appointment with the councillor I was asked to do the same questionnaire again but this time my scores were lower and no longer dangerously high. We spoke about the boxing and she encouraged me to go back and embrace it

I returned the following week and managed to complete the session again. I felt great after but again couldn’t move for days after! it became an obsession. Within a couple of months my body got used to the training and I was able to train twice a week. I could feel myself getting better every week and beginning to improve. Coaches started complementing me, my punches getting stronger, also pulling me up where I needed to improve lowering my hands and on my footwork but it felt great pushing my body and mind to improve and learn a new skill. If I can accomplish this what can’t I do? My self-esteem and confidence slowly returning I begun to feel ‘normal’ again.

I was discharged from the counselling early. I was told there was no point carrying on as my scores had become normal again, and there was no benefit in me returning. Slowly life was improving

It’s now 5 months since I started going to the gym and my body is now ready for me to start training 3 days a week. In order to do this I know I will have to consider my diet and eat more healthily, but all positive steps. I’m even considering going tee total, a big step for me I can tell you! I have a new job, and my relationship with my partner and son is fantastic.

I still have bad days, and I’ve been through such a devastating debilitating experience I don’t think it will ever go away. Having said that, I thought writing this would be emotional for me but it hasn’t at all. Hopefully as it is all in the past? I can’t say for certain but boxing has given me such a wonderful peace of mind. Hopefully I will be able to participate for many years to come. If anything writing this has made me feel proud. I have managed to provide for my family through the toughest time of my life. I fed my child whilst my life was in turmoil and my mind went to war with me.

My only regret is that I suffered in silence for so long. My partner has been wonderful, but the reality is if I hadn’t gained the courage to speak to her I wouldn’t be here now. My son would have to grow up having never known his dad and all I had to do was speak out. Please speak out.

If your son, daughter, friend aren’t quite themselves please ask them. Actually insisting on listening to them, when you are in such a dark place you don’t want to burden anyone with your huge problems. But in not being there for them, you may never get another chance.