I knocked the door at one point thinking I may knock it clean out off it's hinges, shouting at him to open the door and talk to us. It seemed like an eternity but I heard the clatter of bolts again and slowly the front door to this red bricked council flat opened. Before I noticed him there we were greeted by the smell of stale tobacco and fried food it was quite repellent, then there he was this monster from my child hood standing there in front of me, looking small, weak, dirty and pathetic, a small balding Irish man with rotten teeth and what hair he had was stained with nicotine, for once I felt brave. As we stood outside Egan's front door apart from the horrible smell wafting from inside his flat occasionally the wind would blow through the hall and stairs and along the open walk way to his door carrying a stale smell of urine. As a Postman it was an all too familiar smell within council flat stair wells, one could only assume it was used as a public convenience by passing revellers. Another thing I noticed was just how small Egan was. This guy didn't have much going for him in life really, he was pig ugly, but due to some form of medical condition he was short, not a dwarf but just short. This is the man that seemed like a giant when I was younger, in fact my entire life I likened him to the Giant on the front cover of a Ladybird book from Child hood called Jack and the beanstalk, but he was a giant no more. I am not sure who was more scared at that point my brother or Egan, who was now being towered over. I could feel my heart pounding and trickles of sweat down my back, I could feel myself asking him in my head "why", but I couldn't speak the words.
Our new home was a 3 bedroom council house which in the early 70's was deemed a nice area, the same cannot be said today sadly. The layout upstairs was traditional, 3 bedrooms two big and one small. The small room was always known as the spare room as it was used by no one, but I do recall it had an old bed in there with a spring base and mahogany headboard and a rather lumpy mattress, it had a design that reminded me of a pair of Dad's pyjamas, there was also a small bedside locker, that was it really. This was to be Egan's sanctuary for his stay. Mum was puzzled as to why he turned up, he should have been at home looking after their elderly frail mother, but he convinced Mum that she was being taken care of by friends, I am certain Mum never really believed this, and she was later to be proved right. The photo was taken many years later when Mum & Dad moved out, I guess the metal covers on the windows were to stop thieves breaking in and stealing the central heating, the top right window was my bedroom. Just a normal house in a normal road, but a house that hid dark secrets.
I recall another time, I knew it was a Saturday morning as Tiswas was on, I like most kid's my age loved this show, the chaos, the mess, the fun, it was brilliant, perhaps another escape outlet. Anyhow there I was watching Tiswas eating some sweets that Auntie Tolly had given to me, she was a regular visitor on a Saturday morning as she used to have her hair done at a ladies hair salon just down the road from our house, and she always brought me and Ray treats. Mum had asked Egan to go and get her a bottle of sherry, for whatever reason he went to the off licence across at the shopping precinct across the park and asked me to go with him, I said no, but Mum told me to go, so off we went.
At no time was I looking for a replacement for my wife, I wasn't looking for love, part of me felt I had to prove something to myself, what I do not know, as stupid as that sounds, truthfully I was looking for something to numb out the horrible things I had racing around in my head. I loved my wife but at times didn't even feel guilty about what I was doing, I hurt so many people with lies and deceit it totally consumed me for years. This may seem a pathetic excuse but this was how it was for me, it became an addiction I couldn't control. Like all addictions they have a price, mine was to loose the trust of Carol. I think too much had happened for her to forgive me, and I don't blame her for that, the most damaging aspect of mis-placed trust is the trauma to loved ones hearts and souls from being betrayed by the people that they love and trust.
Everything was running like clockwork, they were arriving myself and my work mates were doing the initial processing, it was fine no dramas until one afternoon. I was talking to a prisoner who was a child sex offender explaining what we were doing with regards to his property, due to the nature of his offence he was not allowed photos of children, I explained why quite clearly, his response was one that shook me to the core, "I didn't fuck my kids", he calmly stated. He didn't seem to see any wrong in the response he had just given me, none whatsoever. I felt a deep rage booming inside me, I was scared of what could happen, thankfully a colleague was close by and walked me to a back office to calm down. I knew at that moment I had issues with this kind of person, and now I was going to be surrounded by them at work daily. I was so upset I had to leave work early, I went home and contemplated my next move, I had to tell work about my issues, that in itself terrified me.
It was around about this time that I attended a school reunion, I must admit to being slightly hesitant about it to begin with, but as time went on I wondered what it would be like to meet up with people I hadn't seen for over 25 years. I made the decision to go with my dearest and oldest friend Ali, I was anxious, excited nervous even about meeting up with old school friends, but there was no need it was great fun, but? There she was, that certain one, your first crush, your first real thing for girls, my heart melted at the sight of her, I was that love sick spotty kid from school, all them feelings were there yet again. I guess there are good reasons why school reunions are not good ideas, I have read about happy and sad endings to such events, I was no exception to this. Me and H chatted, we danced, we kissed, we fell in love. We had a torrid few months ahead, fun, laughter, tears, sadness and hurt so much hurt, something happened that shook us and will stay with us forever, I think as much as I loved H we couldn't recover from that. It was a sad time, with everything else this was unbearable, I am upset writing and thinking about it so will end it there.
I don't know if I am 'normal' anymore. I'm always asking 'Would normal people feel like this?' I feel so overwhelmed by certain things at times. I try to keep my head above water but I kind of expect a big wave to break over me at any minute. I used to be so organised. Now I live in a state of chaos half the time. The medication I am on is having effects that I am beginning to worry about, I feel quite carefree about most things right now, whilst this is quite liberating and kind of exciting, but is it a false state of mind, what happens when the tablets stop? If I am honest I wander whether I would be here right now if it wasn't for anti-depressants. That sounds quite sad to say, but then maybe its partly due to me trying to move on too. I had yet another laborious conversation with a prisoner today, yet another sex offender, more whining about not getting his own way, he sound like some spoilt child. In my head I was screaming at this creature to f**k off and leave me alone. I have managed to upset the big boss too this week, simple mistake on my part, which was corrected in an instant, but this was not good enough for this anal retentive buffoon who now thinks I cannot count, I wish I could say I was slightly concerned what he thinks, he is a bully and gives the air of being an unpleasant man, if he thinks he scares me he is so so mistaken, I have seen really nasty, unpleasant and scary things in my life, he doesn't come close.
Well yet another birthday came and went yesterday, another year older, but really no more wiser, or maybe I am and just don't see it fully. Birthdays used to be an exciting time when younger, party food and presents, but as you get older you just cant be bothered with it all, well I cant that's for sure. A couple of things dawned on me yesterday, firstly I am pretty sure my marriage is over, things just haven't been right over the past few weeks, its the small things you notice, I think we may have just reached a juncture where it really is make or break, we just seemed to have drifted apart, I am sure I have just put Carol through too much and enough is enough, only time will tell I guess, but I do love her and hope she will stand by me I also realised I might be old before my time, I spent my birthday afternoon in the cinema watching a really funny but moving British film, I was the youngest person in the screening, a lot of blue rinsers sat around me, it was great. My Mum popped up to see me with a card, I could see she was a bit down so asked her what was wrong. When she stopped staring around the room, I could tell it was something I probably didn't want to hear, my Mum has a habit of doing daft things that annoy me, things often need my intervention to correct afterwards, but not this time. Egan's wife has died she blurted out. She may as well told me what she was having for tea for what it meant to me. Why did she think I would be bothered, she's dead, so what. Mum was having a guilt trip, that Catholic guilt thing, utter bollox. Egan's wife was the one that started this whole saga with the assault on Mum 20 years ago, it's not nice to speak ill of the dead, so I wont, but neither will I shed a tear or a minute of time on the woman. Another thing is that my weight which was on the downward spiral has started to slip back on. I am sure the anti-depressants may have something to do with it. I don't want to slip back into old ways, I want to shed the weight and things back on track, I am back at the doctors next week so will see what he says, still trying to stay focused.
Monday 22nd April 2013
Well here I am sat at home feeling numb, my head is aching so much it feels it will split in two! Today I rang in work and reported myself as unfit for duty, I just felt I couldn't cope, couldn't bare to deal with prisoners today. I am now working on a VP wing, vulnerable prisoners, a mix of sex offenders and inadequate prisoners incapable of coping on mainstream wings. Whilst I have no time or patience with such people, the wing is made a more pleasant place due to the staff, there are a mix of old and new, but a real good bunch which makes it easier for me. I have just had a long weekend away from work which was blissful, but a mixture of having a wisdom tooth out which was no fun, and a constant thumping head and a note which had been put through Mum's door for me which was a charming child like garbled rant from "a friend of Anne's", Egan's wife, the mad woman who back in the 90's started this whole saga off by assaulting Mum, which basically pushes the blame for her death at my feet. It transpires she committed suicide, whilst I want to say I couldn't care less, there is a part of me that feels sorry for her. She too in a weird way is a victim of Egan, she was dependant on him for everything so when he was sentenced I guess she was too. She is without doubt to me a vile creature, but she's dead! She couldn't cope alone, I couldn't help think she died alone and sad. My old friend stress has been hovering this weekend, this was all he needed to grab on to and call on his friend depression, once again these two have a hold of me, they have cloaked me with there darkness and right now I feel I am at there mercy. Depression is hard work, it consumes you if you let it, it turns the rational into the irrational, you cant make sense of even the simple things in life, it is not a good mix in prison, with prisoners with issues of their own. I had to step out, I have to get my head straight, I will no doubt receive flack from the big boss when I return, but he is the least of my problems right now. I am seeing my doctor tomorrow, he knows my history and seeing him will be a relief in itself, I feel like a victim today and not a survivor, I am tired and fuzzy, I feel the need to sleep for a long time........
I think I may have ended the last paragraph rather poorly, a good friend of mine read the updated part above and came to see me thinking I was in such a dark place I may do something stupid. I am grateful for friends like this who care enough to contact me to ensure I am ok, facebook is a place I check into daily really to see the updates friends leave, again my last update was cause for friends to check I was ok, just those messages are a big lift when feeling low, I thank all my friends for this. One in four people suffer from some sort of mental health problem in their lifetime yet we don't talk about it. Part of that is the shame inherent in the illness, you feel bad enough about yourself without everyone knowing how much you're struggling. However, this stigma which involves keeping your illness as a shameful secret is only going to make things harder. The more I've been open about what I went through the more I realise just how common these problems are. The recent Time to Change campaign has been a big step forward in mental health awareness and tackling stigma. It's hard to talk about these things and one of the reasons I did, and still do in some respects, find it difficult is the thought that if people knew about my illness it would change their perspective of me. I would no longer be this lovely, fun person but instead a weird, depressive type. Mental illness can affect anyone and I've come to realise that depression can go together with any personality traits: it's an illness not a personality in itself. So when people learn that you've been depressed, they may well be surprised - but likely they will have respect for you for battling through this difficult illness.
The people that don't understand mental illness are often given either isolated medical symptoms or sensationalised stories in the media. The people that do understand, because they or someone close to them has gone through mental illness, don't talk about it out of shame. It's only by talking about it that we can tackle misunderstanding and discrimination. This in itself is so tough, I wouldn't know where to start with friends from work. Working in a prison brings its own problems, the very people that are in our custody are the kind of people who suffer from mental health problems, not the custodians, the good guys, surely we don't suffer such things. As I write this I can think of people I work with, good people who would find it hard to believe that I suffer from depression, the funny guy, Ollie the one who makes them laugh, the clown, the confidant the one they trust enough when they need a quiet word, but I do. I have faced many things in my life, faced up to demons from my past, persevered through the courts to seek justice, and yet I am not brave enough to open up about my depression.
I was very reluctant to go on anti-depressants, feeling I should be able to cope without them. This is ridiculous - imagine if a diabetic was insistent on beating their condition without insulin. However it's a surprisingly common reaction, I dreaded the thought, but eventually accepted that it may help me, pride and shame being a huge factor in this. To begin with I didn't really notice they had any effect, but as the weeks rolled on, I began to become calmer and found I could just chill. Stupidly I just decided a month ago to just stop taking them, that was a big mistake and helped lead to my current situation which resulted in me taking time off work, something I do not do lightly, but lack of medication and the news that I had received were just to much to cope with and I needed to step out and clear my head. I am back on my medication and things are starting to calm a little, I am trying to not worry about how vulnerable I feel I am making myself with my boss, but I guess I can deal with that when I return to work.
Well it has been a few months since I reported back in, and a few things have happened that have I guess angered me and again reinforced my distaste at the creatures I work with. Myself and a colleague had the unlucky task of searching a prisoner and his cell, it is fair to say things didn't quite go to plan. The prisoner concerned is quite impaired to say the least, one might say prison isn't where he should be, but it is and that is just how it is. We took the prisoner to his cell and started the process of a full search, he was not happy with this at all, and no amount of explaining from us seemed to have any baring on the matter. He became aggressive, but due to his low intellect and the fact we know his behaviour we didn't take action to restrain him for his actions. Although he objected and ranted and raved about what we were doing, we proceeded as planned and thought no more about it, that was till later in the day we heard something that shook me to the core. The prisoner we had searched had thought it clever to tell other prisoners and his mental health nurse that me and my work mate had sexually assaulted him in his cell, I froze with shock when I heard this, shock turned to anger and hatred for this vile low life creature. Due to the nature of this prisoners complaint he had to be interviewed by the duty governor, the potential fall out from these ludicrous allegations could have been we were suspended from duty and have to explain why to our families, what an awful position to be placed in. The upshot of these events were that after interview the prisoner stated he had made up the allegations because he didn't want to be searched and also he wanted to be transferred out of the prison. These are the kind of scum bags we have in custody, who would sink so low as to do such things. My hatred for these people increased, my tolerance levels decreased dramatically. The unit I work on at the moment although full of such creatures is made all the better for the superb staff, most who are younger than me, but they make me laugh listening to them it is fun to work with them, and my mate accused of the above has become a great ally in the work place.
My health is still a cause for concern for me, my daily medication seems to have increased, my weight is still a major issue and seems to be going up instead of down, the anti-depressants have had a major impact on trying to get my weight down. I saw my GP last week to chat about blood test results, as a result I am being sent to the hospital for tests to rule out cancer. The very mention of the word cancer just clouds your thinking, although it is unlikely according to my doctor, I have to say I am a little worried. On top of this I was due to have a major operation for another matter at the end of the year, lady luck is definitely no t with me right now, still only time will tell, I will report back in with news as and when.
Well here I am again, with good news. After drinking copious amounts of what tasted like drain cleaner, then having the loo as a fixed post for the past 24 hours which resulted in having a bottom that of a baboon I had my tests at the hospital. I had a camera put down my throat to check things, I also had to have a camera put in other places too, I was so wound up about that I had to have a sedative, which almost knocked me out. As much as I hated the whole process but knew it had to be done, they were checking for cancerous growths and other nasty's, but thankfully they found nothing. What a huge weight this is off my mind, I couldn't be happier. I still have another operation looming later in the year, but now this clear that should go without any problems. I do feel very tired today, an accumulation of things, medical stuff, work, particularly the long shifts and monotony the job brings. The clientele are still a tough audience at times for me, some days are better than others, but I am getting there. Happy days folks.
November 14th 2013. Well here I am again feeling a bit crap to be fair, I had a really strange day at work, it started off ok but went down hill rather rapidly, and not due to prisoners. I got onto the unit at lunchtime and whilst the beasts were locked up a group of us had a daily dose of Clagg, a card game made up by bored prison officers on nights or so I have always been lead to believe. As the lunch hour diminished and the rest of the staff came back from there bouts at the gym and feverishly wolfed down there low fat lunches, it was almost time to unlock when one of the lad's Sloppy came into where we were playing clagg, a few of the clagg boys are also keen golfers, they started talking about making dates for playing golf. I jokingly stated I never get invited on the golf days, I have never played golf in my life but in jest stated I was a budding Tiger Woods. I was shocked with Sloppy's outburst, albeit it was said in fun, prisoners officers humour is rather warped at times, he stated" we don't allow fat c**ts to play with us", he reiterated it time and again, I know it wasn't meant and it was just Sloppy's way of having fun, but it cut me to the quick. It sat with me all afternoon, and yet again I felt like a victim, it reminded me of school bullies, I couldn't shake it off, but all that aside I wouldn't have Sloppy any other way, he is a fantastic fella, and if he ever read this I wouldn't want him to be any different towards me, I would hate that, its just how he is any other day I would have just laughed it off, bad day I guess. I feel better this morning as I am not in work, but my weight is baring heavy on my mind this morning, I know I am still comfort eating, its my coping mechanism. I am off work this weekend so will relax and get my head around things, I keep telling myself it will all be ok, and I am sure it will be, it could be that I feel down as the dark nights come to early, the short days, I hate them they are so depressing. Christmas is looming, I remember reading somewhere once that the festivities we know as Christmas, not the religious side of it, were brought in to ease the burden and depression of the poor during the long winter months, I understand that. I have battled with all of this for many many years, whilst I am doing my best to move on I know this will follow me to my grave, I just hope that isn't anytime soon and I hopefully peace will find me first.
January 30th 2014
Well its been a while since I reported back in, Christmas has been and gone again, it was a strange Christmas this year, I was working all of Christmas Day. My Christmas spent in the company of some of life's most despicable people, the day was made better by the great staff that I work alongside, the day went without event, dinner consisted of a buffet that we all chipped in with, that and a game of clagg it wasn't to bad at all I guess. What made my day was when I got home and found that Carol and my daughters hadn't opened any of there presents, they told me we were going to celebrate our Christmas Day on Boxing Day, that really put a smile on my face, and that is exactly what we did. I mentioned in my blog that I had an operation looming towards the end of the year, well the date came through 15th January 2014, that has now been and gone.
For the past 2 years I have been seeing specialists at hospital regarding my weight, the process involved yet more counselling, something that I am so familiar with nowadays. I have had a weight problem since day 1 really, one of the things that came out when I received counselling with Hilary and Sarah at the hospital was I used food as a coping mechanism. As a young child I used food to mask how scared and unhappy I was, this stayed with me throughout my life. I have been overweight all my life, but hitting my 40's it started to affect my health, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I suffer gastro problems, pains in my feet and knees, I just started to feel old before my time. I think I have tried every diet under the sun, all the fad diets, the miracle fixes, everything, but to no avail. After lots of therapy, lots of talks and skills sessions I have now embarked on a whole new radical lifestyle change in order to shift the weight I need to shift. Food was my drug of choice, food was my crutch to lean on, it was always there, easy to get and always satisfying, when I was down I believed food helped me to forget the bad things in my life, it never did, like alcohol dependant people it only masks the problems. I feel positive for the first time in many years, it is the first part of a new journey for me, but I am happy to be on it. Wish me well friends......
June 27th 2014
Well folks I thought it time to report back in and let you know how I am doing, lots of changes in the last 6 months. Firstly I am 6 stone lighter than I was back in January, and I have never felt better. My eating habits have changed only in that I eat far less, my portions are normal, I no longer crave the crap I once did, I do treat myself with nice things occasionally as opposed to just eating junk at every opportunity, its working for me. I took on a rescue dog too called Skipper, he s a Cocker Spaniel and is nearly 12 years old, he and Doug my Sprocker Spaniel who is now 18 months get on famously, the exercise I now get is great, I walk them for miles and miles and enjoy every minute of it. The joy those dogs have brought me is immeasurable, I think you only know it if you are a dog owner, its amazing. On another positive note, the wing I work on with sex offenders has now re-rolled to mainstream prisoners, although they are very different to deal with the fact I haven't got those constant reminders around at work now is a big relief. I think I can now start putting things back on track, I am healthy, kinda happy right now so it is onward and upward.
August 11th 2014
Well what a sad sad day, I was listening to the news on the radio whilst lying in bed waiting for my early morning alarm when I hear about the death of Robin Williams, AKA Mork, Mrs Doubtfire to name just a few of his screen persona's. I must admit to being extremely saddened by the news, it was on my mind all day. Now I don't know Robin Williams personally of course I don't, but I grew up watching this man, he appeared on Happy Days if memory serves me right, this being a cool programme to watch in the very early 80's, from this Mork & Mindy, this had to be my most favourite childhood TV show, it was brilliant. But there was a sad side to Robin, and that was depression. Here is a man you would think had everything, fame, fortune, the life only ordinary people could dream of, but it was tainted by my old friends presence, depression. The dark cloak that hangs around you and suffocates you, when you are so far down its like drowning, you can't function properly, nothing makes sense, you can't control the way you feel no matter how hard you try. I feel so sorry for Robin, he just couldn't shake off the heavy, dark shroud, I wish I could have helped a fellow sufferer I really do. The media have been reporting all-sorts of stories, but let me say this, Robin Williams did not die from suicide and the sick people in this world saying its his own selfish fault,,, do not understand how serious depression is, you do not choose to take your own life. Depression paralyses you from making any rational choices. If someone dies from cancer, you don't say, they died from a pulmonary embolism (which can be the cause of death related to cancer). You say, cancer killed them.
|Robin Williams 1957 - 2014|
Look around the office today, the gym, the street, your own home -- 1 in 4 people in the UK suffer a form of depression the person next to you could be suffering right this moment with the same thoughts going through their mind as did Robin's moments before he took his life to free himself from the illness.
1 in 4 means someone in your family is likely to suffer from this horrible illness. What can you do today to help? No more playing small. Spread the awareness.
RIP. Robin. Genie, you're free!