Monday, 16 July 2018

“When people are two-faced, the only thing you’ll know for sure is that you can’t trust either of them.”

I had an interesting conversation with someone recently about me.

Well, not about 'me' per se (yes, I spend my days looking for people who will talk to me about myself), but about the other guy.

That's what I call my personality pre-mental health realisations - the other guy.

Now, the other guy was still, I like to think, a generally okay bloke. After all, he is the version most people knew, the one Kelly married and the one who has been fortunate enough to maintain the same friends - the ones who didn't give up on me.

So, he can't have been all that bad, but he did have the potential to be a dick. 

He was dick-ish. Had dick-like moments. Could be a knob. 

You get the gist.

Now, I only just started to understand this other guy and try to make sense of his behaviours. It is still a work in progress because, as anyone reading this (all three of you) who has a history of mental health difficulties or a rudimentary understanding, you never know it all and, most likely, never will. 

But you continue to try because that is all part and parcel of moving forward. 

Now, I was told during this conversation that people I used to know, and thought were friends (which is still humiliating to this day; that I was so fooled by their claims of friendship) will often say, "remember when David did this" and "remember when David made so-and-so upset".

Now, before I get to owning my own mistakes (and the first thing I learnt on this long journey, is that you must own that shit. You don't make excuses - you own it), it is interesting to note that these individuals say such things as though they are whiter than white and would fall in shit and come up smelling of roses. 

They conveniently forget all the times they upset people, made other people cry, made other people not want to see them again, kicked drawers, tutted and made someone cry, swore and claimed they weren't going to go on a night out with those 'fuckin' two-faced bitches'. They forget that I fought for people to be accepted when no one else wanted them because they weren't a nurse or because no one else would stick up for them or because they didn't want a confrontation. 

I have always believed in these things, wherever I am and whatever I do.

But people have short memories and they revise their own history to suit their version of the facts; to support their decisions so that in the dark of the night, they try not to feel guilty for what they’ve done. 

They claim to have tried to help you and your struggles with your mental health by saying "Well, I did tell him he should calm down" and "I did say he should sort himself out"... the worst thing you can say to someone who is suffering, by the way!

But, to them, they will convince themselves that they did understand and did try to help and therefore, anything you did subsequently was all on you because they did their 'friend' bit.

Now, I mentioned earlier about owning my mistakes. I firmly believe you have to. No excusing your behaviour because you suffer from anxiety or depression - you still have control over your behaviour. I believe, certainly, in my case, you chose to behave in a particular way because it makes your life easier.

For me, and I can only speak for myself, it was all about control. Selfish control. Not out of malice, but because you know your anxiety is triggered by elements out of your control so, therefore, you have to try and control everything in order to not feel anxious.

Contradictory, eh?

Unfamiliarity and change triggered my anxiety (I only recently learnt to identify this - one of the first things in understanding yourself and trying to be a better person) so I had to try and control as much as I could to make my life easier.

My life.

Because mental health problems can be extremely selfish. It is all about you.

Now, this form of control wasn't anything terrible or horrific, but it would still make people occasionally feel uncomfortable because you might get agitated when things begin to spiral away or become glib as a method of coping.

In essence, I would be a dick. Only occasionally, but a dick.

At home and at work. 

Not all the time, but it was omnipresent and something that made, as Kelly told me once, people walk on eggshells.

What a horrible realisation to have. That you made people feel that way, worried that the slightest thing might make you upset and irritable.

You behaved a certain way because you were poorly, though you wouldn’t accept it because that would mean you were weak and pathetic.

How wrong I was. How much time I wasted.

But there is always time to make amends.

I look back at so many things and feel so bad. No one died or suffered permanent harm; indeed, the opposite. The way I was treated by others caused me permanent harm.

But I feel guilty and accept that was how I made people occasionally feel - colleagues, Kelly, my children... It is terrible and sobering to realise this, but important that you do.

Important that I did.

Every day, all with the temporary crutch of medication, mindfulness, therapy and self-awareness, I live my life, trying to make amends for how I would have made people feel.

Make it up to my wife, my kids, my family.

I haven't mentioned friends for the simple reason that aside from a few individuals who were always part of my life, only one person from my former life really ever tried to understand and stayed by my side.

And this is where the embarrassment comes in. 

I spend a decade thinking I had friends when actually they didn't like me whatsoever. I know this because I read it somewhere on occasion (can't remember where) and these individuals spent a great deal of time telling me what a horrible person I was.

None of it was true, of course. That was the problem.

No one mentioned my dick-ish moments in life - instead, they made stuff up.
I wouldn't have minded the truth but when people feel they have to resort to making stuff up but realise that you have been a complete fool.

You spent so much time caring about and respecting these people, and yet they had you fooled the entire time.

All credit to them. They deserve a round of applause for their acting skills as I like to think I'm not easily fooled but fool me they did.

All the laughs, all the good times I have in my memory... none of them were genuine, all of them were fake.

I suppose that says more about them than it does about me.

Kelly experienced a similar situation recently. People tell lies to further their own, personal agenda but they think it will ingratiate them into some's books - someone who has the power to make their work life better. 

She had individuals who laughed with her, cared about her and cried to her, only for them to turn around and stab her in the back because it gave them a political, work-related advantage.

I guess how they sleep at night is their concern. I just despise them for what they did to her.

Karma is a bitch.

So, back to the other guy.

I hate him. Absolutely despise him.

He is locked somewhere far away in the deepest recess of my mind.

He rattles his sabre for his own ends occasionally, asking to be out so that he can deal with a situation.

"Let me deal with it," he'll say. "You'll pussy out and do the 'right' thing. Let me have a crack... they'll remember it if I deal with it."

But let him out I have no intention of. Ever again if I can help it.

I owe him a lot - he kept me safe, protected me and taught me to deal with bullies (only the physical kind and my Dad; the others I encountered later in life... well, he was fucking useless at dealing with them. What a bell end!). He spoke to me quietly and convinced me to keep people at arm's length because they would only hurt me. Deflect their attention with sarcasm and they'll get bored trying to get to know you.

He didn't tell me I would always feel alone, even in a room full of people and that I would nearly lose my family and my life because of him (did I say he was a bell end?).

He told me all of this, and I believed him. Until the day came that I didn't.

And him being locked away is the best thing I could have ever done.

Rule of attraction - everything happens for a reason and if you feel positive, good things will happen.

Not magic - just the power of belief.

The previous episode of my life that led here is, with the benefit of hindsight, the best thing that could have ever happened to me. 

Despite new job opportunities, writing, publishing and being able to work alongside my beautiful wife, I learnt who my true friends were.

I learnt that a few, a special few, will stick with you through it all and never expect anything in return. They will try to understand you and not speak ill of you. They will be honest with you and never lie. They will show you that there is still a reason for trying to become the person you wish to be.

The better version of yourself. The version you want your wife to know, your kids to see and the world to recognise.

They may not wish to socialise with you or even speak to you often, but the one thing they will do is show you that everything happens for a reason.

They will show you that you can always make amends.

After all, that's what friends are for.