A few years ago, I worked for a call center company. I didn’t actually work there, I was there for training, to then get a job there, although I never made it that far, my issues with self harm eventually got so bad I quit the training at the very end so I didn’t have to get up and leave my house everyday anymore..
Anyway. This post isn’t about the job, it’s about someone I met there at that time. For obvious reasons, I will rename him and we shall call him James.
When I first met James, he was an incredibly lovely person. Pretty quiet, down to earth, nothing out of the ordinary kind of young man. Although in my time at that job, I didn’t make an extremely deep connection with him. I saw him everyday at work, and we would have the odd conversation.. at work parties we would drink together, on a few occasions ending up heading to town and continuing the party with a couple other people. At this time in my life, I was in the middle of my “bad times”. Partying, alcohol, self harming, weekly hospital trips.. you know the story.. and because of the sheer amount of issues I had at this time, i never made any real long-term connections with anyone. I couldn’t see people for who they were, I didn’t have interest in making friends or learning about other people.. my interest was in getting as drunk as possible, with whoever at the time was the most fun.
So at this time I didn’t really “see” James. I didn’t look or pry any deeper into any conversations with him. At the time, obviously I didn’t realise that I was doing this, I recognize now, that I was. I remember his laugh, and his humour. I was drawn to him in some ways, because he was great to be around, an outstanding aura of positivity.
As I said, I eventually left that job, and because our friendship was based around work, after leaving we didn’t keep in contact.
Fast forward to 2 months ago. It wasn’t a usual Saturday night. I had been seperated from my partner for a good 6 months, and I was in a great place. I had done alot of soul searching after my relationship breakdown. I found things I enjoyed, I went outside more often, my anxiety was almost completely gone, no dark days, no depression. I was happy with life and was on a great journey becoming who I wanted to be without any influence from anyone else. I hadn’t drank for a long time, i started meditation, and was mentally extremely positive. So this Saturday night, when a good friend I hadn’t seen in a few months asked me to go on a night out. Now just to make the story understandable, almost everyone who has gone out drinking with me has regretted it. My mood, behaviour and over all attitude can change within a split second, weather it be crying and upset or aggressive and argumentative. These behaviours in drink don’t happen as much anymore after the therapy I received a few years back, however, sometimes these situations do still happen, not as often, but can leave others feeling very vunerable as to how to handle me and the situation. So to be asked on a night out, by a friend who I am aware is aware of “drunk me”, I was extremely pleased.
I made a mental note to myself to BEHAVE, and to try to enjoy the evening without any issues. The night was brilliant, we drank, we danced all night long till our feet hurt. We got some food and went home. I woke up the next morning, a little hungover, but feeling extremely happy at how well the night had gone. My friend even messaged me to ask me to come out again the weekend after! This for me, is a massive thing. I struggle not only with alcohol at times, but more so, I struggle with how people perceive me and alcohol. I am hyper aware, of what people think of me and my relationship with alcohol. So of course I agreed, and the week flew by, and before I knew it, it was Saturday again.
I got myself ready, I went to my friend’s house, we had a drink, put music on, the night started great. We headed into town and went to the usual places, and I was over the moon how successful the night was going, and even MORE over the moon, when I walked out of one of the bars we were in to go for a smoke, and saw James. I instantly ran over to him and gave him a massive hug, he in turn, was equally as excited to see me. It was a tremendously amazing few hours, until without me realising, the night unravelled very slowly.
It was around 3am and we decided to go back to my house, considering all the club’s were now shutting, but we were still in party mode, and in a great mood after bumping into each other. So, we went to my house, we put music on, we poured more drinks, and we sat, and talked. For hours. I told him about my life since leaving the job we were together at, and in turn he told me his life story. Harrowing, and horrendous details, of being abandoned by a drug addict mother and an brilliant relationship with a great father. The details, and stories he told me about his life, and furthermore about his mental state, the anxiety, the racing thoughts, the deepest depression. I was shocked, completely speechless at how connected we were, through our issues with mental health. We spoke in mass details of out struggles, and equally found it extremely comforting to have someone understand. Although by this time, it was sometime in the afternoon on Sunday morning. We had drank for over 14 hours, and the alcohol induced depression started to kick in. The stories and the horrors I had heard, started to affect me and my own mental state.
I asked James to leave at that point, as I was beginning to sober up and suddenly felt an extreme chill throughout my body, and desperate feeling to be alone. That day was the first time I self harmed in a very long time. I was hit by a massive uncontrollable need to relieve some of the emotions I was feeling. I had, and still have massive regrets for this. It was not nessecarily bad cuts, and someone reading who’s never witnessed or been around self harm, may say to themselves “how is any cut classes as bad or good”. But there are different ways and techniques, with different tools, and these cuts, were not bad ones. Although the cuts themselves on a place on my leg which are not visible to anyone else, it is the mental anguish of actually physically harming yourself that has on you.
After that day, I felt most of all, that I did not want James to feel that my mistake was his fault. Although at this point, and because of certain events and other things that occurred that night, I was sure I didn’t want to see him again, because I felt at that time that his influence on me was negative, I also felt sorry for him, after receiving messages from him that he was upset because I had asked him to leave and he didn’t understand why.
So following a couple days of conversation, I realised many things. Firstly that James is extremely jealous. After being abandoned by his mother he had the worst case of abandonment issues I’d ever witnessed. Extremely in need of reassurance, constantly, and rock bottom self esteem, his mental health was in a shockingly low place. I had many conversations with him, I encouraged him to meditate, and to stop drinking. I thought at this point I could be of some help to him, having been in his places many years ago, I assumed I had some knowledge of how to help him. I am pretty sure now, that I was wrong.
I agreed to see him again. We went on a Friday night, out for some food. I took him to my favourite restaurant, and within an hour, he had ordered so many cocktails, that the pair of us, were pretty drunk. It hadn’t been my intentions to drink so much that night, it was planned to be a nice evening meal, but it turned into so much worse. I am the first to admit I am easily lead, especially when it comes to situations with alcohol. We proceeded to go to a bar near to my house, where he got progressively more drunk, and the jealousy started to come out. Extreme jealousy of me looking or speaking to any males. Now for starters, we weren’t in any form of relationship or had any form of sexual activity happening! In my drunken state I fully rejected his jealous behaviour and considered it completely unfair. The situation got more out of hand after bumping into an old school friend and chatting for some time, James was extremely unhappy out this and proceeded to leave the venue. By this point, both of us, very intoxicated, and after a conversation an hour earlier, about extremely depressing topics, of topics I do not ever discuss when I’m drunk, I at this point, was again in a very low place.
I got in a taxi and went home. From this point I don’t remember much. James came to the house and we had a slight disagreement before, again, I asked him to leave. By this point in the night, I was so mentally distraught, that I again, self harmed. This time, bad cuts, and also visible, on my arm. I had the paramedics out twice that evening, the first time they left I proceeded to self harm again and they returned. They then stayed with me until my father arrived to rescue me. Alongside the catastrophic evening, I had also accidentally stopped taking my antidepressants for 5 days, and the subsequent reaction, was a rapid uncontrollable downward spiral as soon as I started drinking alcohol.
This event harmed me deeply. It harmed me physically, and mentally in so many ways. I had to cover my arms for a couple weeks, and it made me feel like I was 19 again, and the depression that came with that was unbearable. I felt that I had failed myself and my family, for self harming after such a long time. What I had never told anyone, and still never have, was who I was with when these two events happened only 6 days apart.
I don’t point blame in these situations. For me, it’s always best to not point blame and to just try to resolve the issues that caused it. I returned to my medication and after 2 weeks I was back mentally where I had been before the incidents. As much as my heart and mind wanted to badly to help James, after he told me his racing thoughts and bad anxiety played a massive part in his behaviours, drunk and sober, I knew I understood him, and I also knew that no one else would.
Which gave me a predicament. To help, or not to help? What is the right thing to do in these situations. Most people say that mental health can help mental health, that we can help each other..
My friend told me, after I told her about these events, that in life there are negative and positives, and sometimes they come in the form of people. To help yourself, and continue your personal journey, you must remove the negatives.
James was a massive negative to my mental state. His great great need for massive consumption of alcohol was the first reason, and the second was his own depression, which inadvertently, brought out my own depression which I had dug a grave for and buried a very long time ago.
So the question. Does mental health always help mental health? Or sometimes, is it that your negative mental issues can be brought out by someone else, unintentionally.. should we avoid those people like the plague.. or should we always try to help everyone who wants or needs us to help them? I’m curious for any comments about this.