I have started writing my book – the prep done, the planning, I felt the urge that I think I was waiting for, I just felt the impetus, the fire in my belly and I put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard). 

The book: my journey into and out of the depths of depression, where I was, where I got to, where I am now, what has worked for me… I want, in writing the book, to raise awareness of depression and associated mental illnesses, panic attacks, anxiety, OCD, and I want to dilute some of the ignorance that is out there, ignorance which fuels the stigma which is, in many cases, fatal. Of course, I also want to be a source of encouragement to sufferers and their families.

It’s a daunting task. Where to start when writing a book which will probably have 30-40k words.

I penned 200 words a few days ago, 200 at my fist sitting, took it to 2,400 today. 2,200 or so words this morning, they fell out of me. Hard, really hard, cathartic, I’m sure, but one heck of a tear-jerker of an exercise! You see, I have to be brutally honest with myself and that ain’t easy! I have to look my many weakness and failures square in the face.

(First paragraphs and jumping to where I got to this morning):

 “You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” – Madeleine L’Engle

It’s 10.20pm on 7 February, 2001, I’m in Newcastle Upon Tyne’s ‘General Hospital’. I’m being kept in overnight, for observations, having been brought in by ambulance. Earlier today, I collapsed in Gosforth, on The High Street, in the middle of the road, under the onslaught of clinical depression and too many prescribed meds, one of them a tricyclic antidepressant which, I think, really did the damage.

The medical team are not unduly concerned but as my ear was bleeding, they have decided to keep me in overnight, a decision which has undoubtedly saved my life.

It’s 10.30pm, I go into cardiac arrest. My wife gets the phone call – “come in, quickly!” Yaf has arrived, panicking. She is told that it’s not good, that they have managed to re-start my heart but that they don’t know if I’ll make it and that, if I do, they don’t know if I’ll totally recover.

In hindsight, this had been coming, maybe not the life-saving circumstances, the blessing, the miracle, that had me in hospital when I went into cardiac arrest, but the crash, that was on the cards.

My life had been, prior to 7 Feb 2001, unwinding. 

I had been slowing to the point of, to all intents and purposes, stopping. 

Depression was a ton-weight on my head, on my body. 

I was house-bound, I was sleeping in the day, I was only getting out of bed at night when the rest of the world, certainly my household, was asleep. 

I had my biggest, most scary panic attack a couple of week before, whilst walking in Eldon Square Shopping Centre, and that saw to it that I wouldn’t be going out again (though, for some unknown reason, I did go for a walk, to the bank, of all places, on the 7th!). 

My state of mind was such that I was, in reality, no longer working, functioning, I was broken. 

Pills, including tricyclic antidepressants (I will always maintain that it was those pills which almost killed me), 8am, 8.30am, 10am, 12pm, 1.30pm, 2.30, 4pm….

it was non-stop. 

I was numb, I was disconnected, I was in another world. 

Ziv was 2 years old, he got more emotional feedback from the walls of our house. Yaf tells me that he would run to me, so excited to his dad – nothing.

Yaf was crying all the time, she just couldn’t get through to me, I couldn’t even reach a hand out to her, I was paralysed. 

In hindsight, where was this going? Either I was going to end my life or it was going to end itself. Thank God, the latter intervened and tried to have a go and failed. Who knows, if I had tried to end it, if I’d have failed or succeeded. Did suicide cross my mind? It’s all a bit of a blur but I do remember being at funerals (unwise, I know) and thinking that the people who were being buried were lucky! So whether or not I actually contemplated taking my life, I don’t know, but, for sure, I was in a dangerous state of mind, a state of mind, a state of mental health and a state of physical health – a state of health, full stop – which almost killed me….”

(Fast forward to where I got to this morning)

…..I remember sitting on one of the two beds in the room (in Polack’s House, Clifton College), looking out of the window, my back to my parents so that they couldn’t see me crying (mum was also crying!). Hard as it must have been for them, particularly for mum, to see me crying, hard as it must have been for them to kiss me goodbye, I’m sure they must have felt that this was the right thing to do, that this could be the making of me. 

Alone, sitting on the bed, in came a couple of old hands, Mickey Ward and Matt Kemp, come to see the new boy, come to say “hi”, come to see if I was a cool, rugby-playing kind o’ guy or a ‘square’. They probably left the room thinking the latter.

Then in walks Dayan, Dayan Nahon (named after Moshe Dayan, Israel army general: Dayan was born on 5 June 1967, the first day of the 6-day war!). This was an auspicious moment. We hit it off the moment we met, brothers, that what we were, what we are today, brothers. (Dayan was my ‘best man’ when I married yaf!).

Yeah, I think that I can now truthful and honestly say, “I’m writing a book”.

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