Hey, thanks for coming to read this. Especially if I personally sent you the link.
So, I'm sorry for how I've been acting; life's been wild. Not just losing my dad, but a handful of other traumatic events over the last few years, mixed with a 15-year lower limb issue.
If you don't know—or have forgotten—the backstory, I went to the doctor when I was 12/13 complaining of knee pain: I was walking with my grandma in Old Swan when suddenly my left knee buckled and I collapsed in the middle of Orleans Road. The shopping went everywhere. It was embarrassing.
For years I'd revisited the doctor, but each time was shrugged off: growing pains, puberty, martial arts, standing too long on set, sitting too long whilst editing, something not worth properly investigating.
I'd given up by the time I was 25. I accepted the fact that I'd never be able to run and play with my kids. That I'd probably need a stairlift by the time I'm 30. Chloe and I would even joke about it.
If I think about it, I'd probably given up a bit before then and just didn't notice. Maybe you noticed the change: I think it was the start of my depression.
I became reclusive. I turned my back on you and so many others. I disappeared without so much as a word.
While for the most part, I could pretend I was OK, I knew the issue was there. There was a deep dissatisfaction. I think I was pretending for a long time.
My knees, my dad, my grandma, my mum, Chloe—and probably even you—all had issues, and I just put on a big ol' smile and plodded on. We all did.
It was tough though. Each significant event in my life was brushed off with nonchalance.
I sheltered away. I didn't want to deal with any of it. I couldn't keep pretending, but I couldn't reply to your courteous “how are you?” with the truth.
My grandma died twice, for me.
The first was when she was taken to hospital. Her dementia had gotten so bad and the family couldn't care for her anymore. I didn't want to see her in that state, I wanted to remember my grandma as I documented her. I went to visit anyway and took my camera. I hid behind the lens for the whole visit; it hid my tears.
As we were saying goodnight, she pointed with a smile and poked her finger at me.
“I made you.”
In a way, she did. She made me who I was at that time. She instilled good values in me. She provided herself in sickness to a documentary that launched my career.
After that day, I couldn't see her anymore. My grandma was gone, the person who would eventually pass was her shell.
I got back in touch with my medical centre about an overdue complaint of the knees and was seen by a new GP: Doctor Barber, the man who changed my life. He immediately was concerned at the lack of attention my knees had received and referred me to a specialist at Broadgreen. After years, I was getting investigated.
Ignorance was bliss while Alice was dying. I put on my big ol' smile and distracted myself with a job for AstraZeneca. My mum and sister stayed by her side for days so she wouldn't be alone at the end of her journey. They were in so much pain. I'm sorry I wasn't stronger for them. I'm sorry I didn't help.
I didn't cry at her funeral. I told myself I was over it: I'd mourned her years ago when I said goodbye at the hospital.
I repressed my emotions. I sunk deeper into depression.
The pandemic hit. My dad's health got worse. I lost my job. I got pulled over for doing a U-turn where there was no prohibition on doing so. Chloe didn't get accepted into University. My world fell apart.
I was low.
During a routine complaint of the knees, Dr Barber suspected depression and prescribed citalopram. I humoured him. I figured I owed it to him for being the first health professional to take my knees seriously.
In November, things started to seem a little brighter. Well, OK... the pandemic was getting worse, but Chloe had been accepted into University and I felt a new purpose in life: neglecting my sick father and caring for strangers instead. Avoidance, yey!
I began working as a healthcare assistant and found myself reconnecting with the people I'd turned my back on. I was motivated to maintain relationships I'd neglected.
I stopped taking my antidepressants. I felt happy, I didn't need them, right?
Long story short, my dad died.
Again, I tried to tell myself I was fine with it. The same old story: I'd mourned him for years through his illness. I'd already accepted his death.
That was a lie.
He's my fucking dad and he died.
I know parents die, but he was 63 and I was 27. I hadn't proven myself to him. I didn't know if he was proud of me.
Depression crushed me. Physical pain didn't help.
I turned 28. My first birthday without my dad. It was awful.
Chloe and my family finally convinced me to speak with Doctor Barber again. I was prescribed citalopram once more and signed off work. I was also prescribed low dose codeine, high dose codeine, then finally one 50mg amitriptyline of a night to try and relieve the pain.
The physical pain didn't subside much, but I started to get these stages of feeling high. Feeling like I used to, once upon a time. I felt creative again, I was enjoying life and cherishing Chloe.
I decided that was the best thing for me to focus on and stopped taking any pain relief. Slowly, I fell back into a previous trap. I didn't feel depressed and scrapped the 30mg citalopram too.
My pain was intense the other day. I took one 50mg amitriptyline before heading to the cinema with Chloe. It didn't help.
A few days later, I'm feeling high again.
I'm feeling like that guy from a few months ago, who was starting to feel like that guy from 5 years ago.
The timing of the amitriptyline and this dopamine boost could be a coincidence, but it made me acknowledge my behaviour.
I was struggling so much, but that's not an excuse for acting shitty. I'm sorry.
I've realised a couple of other things tonight, but I'll make a website for one and a documentary for the other.
For this realisation, all I can do is apologise to you and ask for forgiveness. I want to be friends, I just forgot how to behave outside of depression.
I have a call with Doctor Barber again tomorrow... or, today, since it's 6 A.M.
I've been thinking about this for four and a half hours. It started with some videos I filmed that will be included in the documentary, and then inevitably ended up writing this post so I can openly apologise to you and so many others.
I'm going to sort out my mental health.
I'm going to get high again.
Wish me luck.