© Copyright 2019 by Stephen Cooke
In 2014, I was working full time as an engineer, traveling the country, paying my bills and supporting my family. I had a lump at the back of my mouth, for a year I ignored it, I was busy. I worked 12-14 hour days and never had the time. Then in April everything changed. I had Cancer, it had spread to my tongue, neck, throat and nodes. I was also in a marriage with a narcissist. She also had a anti-social personality disorder and honesty my life was... Complicated. My home life had already left my emotions numb, the Cancer was the icing on the cake.
I attempted suicide twice, the second landed me in hospital due to an overdose. I went through the mental health teams, cognitive behaviour therapy and talking but could not resolve my issues. My wife was now my carer as the Cancer left me with cognitive damage now diagnosed as Dementia. In a nutshell, I have around an hour a day where I can pass for almost normal, the rest is a decent into memory loss and confusion. I have now separated from my wife, we still live together for the children but will move on when they are grown.
I found a way of working through my feeling. I wrote them down, in a fictional world starting from my lowest point. Not what happened, just the emotions. Although some aspects do reflect what happened in real life, can you tell which parts?
Heat slowly warms my fingers, the sensation, the warmth so new so familiar. I try and raise my head but cannot. Panicking I move my arms, my legs but nothing. The darkness covers my body, the debris pushing me down. Blankly my mind starts to process. Winding and clunking away like an old steam train desperately burning away wet coal. Where was I, and what the hell had happened. I soon realized the warmth is sunlight, beautiful sunshine penetrating through whatever is holding my body trapped. Wriggling my fingers and pushing aside as much of the debris as physically possible I start making progress. Soon and with a blast of relief my wrist becomes mobile. Feeling the sunshine as it penetrates my skin, no that's wrong. It does more than that, it holds me, pulls me towards the light. It takes an age, but the warmth does spread, down my fingers and wrist, into my arm and shoulders. I feel each twitch, every hair curl and the intensely painful returning of sensation. I don't realize why yet, but as time passes, each minute, each hour they all seem the same. My mind has broken, I feel that. Confusing sounds and images even with my eyes shut. I try to focus on the current danger, the mass holding me down. With the feelings returning to my body, the weakness and stench of death become all to apparent. I try to heave my body upwards, realizing my weakness, the state I'm in, I fall back into the darkness unwilling to try. Unwilling to live.
The pain spiked, every sense I have screamed as my hand was yanked out of the mess surrounding me. Growling filled my ears and with a rush of adrenaline, I freed my arm. Pulling my hand away from the thing attacking me, screaming in pain as I continued pulling myself free. Sensation and terror flooded my body, my mind overwhelmed, I frailed around at the beasts as I ran towards the nearest building. Gasping for the life giving air, I watched as those hated things moved to an easier target. Lapsing to the floor I wondered what the hell I did to deserve all this. I slowly felt to make sure I was all here, sounds stupid thinking back but my hands, arms, legs yes.. All here. A bloody hand and a strange hole in my stomach. Nothing to serious I think. Not realizing this was all I thought, not understanding what it meant. People talk about hearing voices or having to much noise in your head. Not me, not now just nothing. Looking around, sucking in every ray of light, sound or even willing the invisible to exist, just for a clue of who I am, where I am. I place my hands together, fingers still dripping with blood and recite the prayers I have said almost every day of my life, forgetting after only a few words what to say. Angrily I bite my teeth together, harder and harder until it hurts. How can I forget something so important, surly he would not let me forget, surly he would place the words back into my mind! Again I tried, again I failed. I crumpled to the floor, exhausted and defeated. With so much wrong. With so little knowledge how can I survive?How?
My chest buckles and my eyes well, even in this barren place I look around, make sure no one's here, before it bursts from me. Rampant with passion, something that allows the real pain to escape, the things, being buried, broken. Those were nothing compared to this, this is the real horror. This feeling of darkness, the never ending, inescapable deep blackness of self hatred, loathing, despair. Not many people truly understand this 'crying' or 'sobbing', these words do little justice to the dirty face, tears salty with relief and the heaving pounding chest releasing the pressure, built up over.. How long? I cannot even remember that. Slowly it will end, when the pressure subsides to guilt, guilt about myself, my choices, my actions. I'm sure I will remember one day, perhaps then, inside it will stop. Until then, I live every day, every hour in the hope someone, anyone can help. Waiting until nightfall, I started walking the weight of eons pulling, dragging behind me. To this day I cannot imagine how I managed this, how I even survived!. I believe it was as simple as survival. Instincts taking over, moving body parts one after the other. The light was good, a large full moon brightened the skies and my route. Miserable and cold, I walked without knowing, without realizing. Then I sat down. Confused and still cold, but strangely only my hands and feet, I looked around, blankly but with purpose. I knew I was confused, knew it was wrong, but could not recognize myself. Seeing everything as if through new eyes, I closed them and fell asleep knowing that whatever happened before, I must move on. Blankly the lights blurred, stars circling and streams of blue and red shot into my mind. Anger, outbursts of rage, evil even.. Screaming at me for no other reason than the air we breath. Fully aware I tried to move, again I was immobile, but not the same I could see my body, see and feel my arms but I could not move, shout and could not even scream. Panicking I realized I could not wake. My chest was tight, my legs non-existent and I closed my eyes again held them tight shut until my lids hurt, nothing. Scared I cried out in anguished terror, outside my body twitching, my mouth moved and a moan erupted. I woke with a start, unknowing of the hours I had lay there, only knowing I felt terrible, worse than exhausted. I stared into the expanse of my mind. I hated sleep. The recall of memories, the loss of control, the utter disbelief of what was happening. How could I ever be so stupid to.... No I cannot remember, not yet. I know I blamed myself, but I don't know, yet what I blamed myself for? I don't think I wanted to remember.
My name is Stephen Cooke, I'm Separated and Living in Birmingham, UK. Having Been educated to a high standard in computing and engineering seems far from where I am now. I have little life experience, having struggled all my life, from a single parent household to an abusive partner, and in laws. But now I have an illness which will never leave me. But as I like to say to myself, again and again, I choose to be happy, I choose to smile and I choose to keep to my morals and keep myself, me. My grandfather was an author, having two published books and numerous poems, both published and unpublished I like to think I have a little of him in me. My children, well they just outshine me in everything, my daughters a budding actress, Dancer and voice over. My son, well he's a straight 'A' wannabe psychotherapist. Oh.. Did I say I'm single?