I was due to be in Edinburgh for 4 days, and also had plans to venture over to Glasgow for 3 days after. Tessa, a friend from back in Scarborough is now living just out of the centre in Leith with her partner Ben, and they kindly offered to let me stay round theirs while I was supposed to be working in the city.
I arrived around lunch time on Thursday, and took myself for a little walk. I stopped in Costa for a brew, and despite not having a massive love for Edinburgh I started out with the best intentions by throwing up a post online asking for recommendations on what to do during the days I was free. I was gonna be there for 4 days, so had to make the most of it. And genuinely looked forward to scoping out some of the places folk had sent me.
Making a slow walk through the city to Leith was some good time with my camera. The light at this time of year is always incredible and it’s not difficult for my attention to be captured by the harsh contrasts.
I sat by Leith waters waiting for Tessa to finish work and then made my way over. I did a little admin before heading back out at 9pm for my first night of work. I was relaxed. I was feeling good. And the weather was still ideal enough to walk back into the city as it was just over 2 miles and I didn’t start until 11:30pm anyway, no point in wasting money on a bus fair. That was about my lot, though.
I hadn’t been drinking, and still the walk into the city is bit of a weird blur. It wasn’t long before I felt my anxiety kicking in. I messaged a friend something about not feeling like I could go through with work. They told me that I could, and to try and ground myself. So I made a point of saying out loud what I was looking at or whatever I thought about while I walked:
“Pavement. A crack in the pavement. Lamp post. Worn stickers. 4 people ahead, they are walking towards me, 3 males, 1 female, I’m not sure if they are all together. 1 has walked off, I guess they aren’t. Phone box. There are posters in the windows. I can hear my foot steps. Graffiti. I can’t read that graffiti. I still can’t read that graffiti. I need to focus on something else. I can still hear my foot steps. Amber lights. Amber! I wonder how Amber is doing? There’s a car, it isn’t going very fast. Glare in shop window. Empty lobby with a security guard. I wonder if anything ever kicks off? Would he be prepared in an emergency? Is this working? I must be nearly at work now. I think it is working. 20 zone. I am crossing the road, I can’t hear any cars coming. I can hear my footsteps though. Pavement.”
I felt like a cunt saying bollocks like that out loud. But it helped, and I grabbed some chips while I waited to start work.
Ok, it helped temporarily. I now had almost overwhelming urge to kill myself.
But I couldn’t kill myself, I had a job to do. I take photos, and that’s something I love doing. “Kill yourself”. There it was, again. “Kill yourself”. And again. Over, and over again. I hadn’t even started to work yet, and I knew I was done for the night. It’s a shite state of affairs when you can’t even do one of the only things you’re good at.
“I need to work, I can’t just sack it off again”. There’s only so many jokes I can take from people that seem to think I can’t commit to these things. So I bought a vodka. A double one. With coke. Which, by the way, may as well have not came with a mixer at all due to the polar ice cap worth of ice in the glass. £5.20? Fucking hell. I drank it in a few seconds, and then I made the choice to not resort to drinking all night to mute what I was feeling. Then again, I didn’t even have the money to mute it if I wanted to. And anyway, I wasn’t out with friends so I wouldn’t be drinking for it to be a good time.
I grabbed my things and walked out of the venue I was shooting. By the time I was in the street I had tears streaming down my face, and I was crying. Proper. Usually I manage to hold myself together until I’m totally alone. People avoided me as I walked past them. No wonder, I probably looked a state. Zig-zagging down the pavement and across roads, eventually I gave up and slumped back in a doorway of a bank or something. I didn’t even take my bag off, so I was halfway between sitting and laying. Probably under a nice little advert for a savings account which I don’t make enough money to use. I managed to text the guy I was covering for and apologised, and cancelled the following three nights. And then I cried some more.
I told Tessa I’d be back between 2:30 & 3am. It was barely 11:30pm. I couldn’t hold myself together, so I stayed in the doorway in a heap while strangers passed and I listened to music and started chatting with a friend from back home which calmed me down considerably. It was almost 1am and I was starting to get cold and so I messaged Tessa to basically just lie and say that it was a quiet night and that I’d be done earlier than expected and would be in around 1:45am. I took a walk, and caught the bus.
With that, the rest of Edinburgh and Glasgow was off the cards. I managed to find a relatively cheap train back home that morning, so was up and out before anyone was awake.
I’ve been asked by a couple of people what I think triggered this, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot since. Feelings like this have been a constant part of my daily life since around the age of 8. Though I wouldn’t say I’m generally ‘triggered’, but this specific time I can put down to advertisements. The ones on the streets, bins, sides of buses, shop windows. That shit. Ads that were of absolutely no use to me. I don’t believe anyone for a second when they say they don’t take notice of ads. They are literally everywhere. Forced upon us, and there’s no way to opt out. That night they felt more in my face than usual. I felt isolated and that I had no real worth or purpose within the world at all.
And that might sound overly sensitive and dramatic, but it’s quite serious when you become aware of it and you’re trying to not view killing yourself as the rational solution. ’Cause it’s not. Of course it’s fucking not.
There’s a few friends that I can casually talk this over with. Typically with a smile, because no matter how pathetic I feel I manage to find humour in it with them. “It’s not pathetic to feel like that!”, I know I’m not pathetic, I just believe I am. Which is a whole other level of infuriation in itself. But I can still laugh and I find that comforting. I’d say it helps me cope but really here I am writing this blog so really who the fuck knows anymore?
I don’t know how this is going to be interpreted and I’m trying to just be as honest as possible but this post really isn’t a cry for help. It’s not.
Truth is though, even as I write this I don’t believe talking directly to anyone will actually help me, because I’m not a talker, and when I’m asked to explain myself I internally freak out obsessing over how’s the best way to tell someone that I think about killing myself without making them feel uncomfortable and me sounding mental or like I’m reeling off a dumb sob story for sympathy. It’s all well and good people saying they are there for you, with a token “it’s ok to not be ok”, except it fucking isn’t. I understand the sentiment, but I’m not going to accept it. It’s not ok to not be ok. Because no one should feel like this, but they do. All the time.
If anyone has ever asked me how I am and they’re not convinced when I say that I’m ok, I hope they know I’m not going to do something stupid. If you’re reading this and you’re at all uncomfortable, don’t worry about it ‘cause you can pretend you didn’t read it. I’m hardly going to follow it up – “Hey, soooo tell me how you feel about me wanting to die!”. Seriously, it’s all good.
Anyway, I think that’s more than enough. Along with the photos of Edinburgh I also included some photos of me smiling from other times because I actually consider myself to be a relatively happy person and felt like it was needed, it just so happens that I feel like I don’t want be alive most of the time. It’s not ok, but it is what it is, and I don’t want to talk about it*.
*Just because I don’t want to talk about it or think it won’t particularly help me, that’s on me, I forced myself to write this because I’m not big on face-to-face/one-on-one conversations and if doing it publicly can be of use to just one person then it’s worth it. If you’re in a bad place and recognise that then definitely consider reaching out to someone. Everyone is different. And it’s worth trying and finding out ’cause it’s sure as shit better than the alternative.