Six weeks on, I am trying to put the crisis I experienced in Spain into some kind of context. I’ve talked about it with various people, and a certain theme seems to be emerging. People want to reassure me that, despite the awfulness of those two weeks, it’s not all bad. The thing that they tend to fixate on is that although I was preoccupied with the idea of killing myself, I didn’t This fact is put forward as something to cling onto, a tiny glimmer of good in a sea of bad. It reminds me of the enterprising young men on BBC2’s Welcome to India this week, guys who slip down into storm drains and collect bulging sacks of the silt and shit of the jewelry-making district, confident that the night soil will contain flecks of gold they can sell on to those with the means to extract it.
Only when it comes to my crisis, what others claim as gold is, to me, nothing but more shit. I can find no solace at all in the best thing about my expensive family holiday, an event to which we had all looked forward for so many months, being that I just about managed not to take my own life. Really? This is what people see as gold? I can assure you the reason I didn’t act was not that I suddenly wanted to live. I certainly didn’t have some revelation that my life had meaning and purpose after all. In fact, in addition to feeling trapped by being abroad, trapped in the villa, trapped in my bedroom, I felt even more caged by the knowledge that in killing myself (especially on a family holiday) I would be passing my mental distress on to my children. In addition to the burden of guilt about my kids, the other driver staying my hand was fear, fear of failure and its consequences. It is bad enough coming to in a UK medical ward or being treated against your will in a British psychiatric unit. The idea of ending up admitted to a ward where I didn’t even speak the language was terrifying.
So that’s it? My nugget of gold is supposed to be that I was so consumed with guilt and terror that I failed to kill myself? If you see gold in that, you’re deluded. All I see is different grades and colours of shit, and I’m struggling to see reasons to go on sifting through it.