Saturday, 25 October 2014

The effort is the reward

Deep breaths synced with my movement. My foot feature left as evidence on the trail behind. A light jog turned trot in the calmness of an autumn evening; the sun lying heavy behind the trees and buildings.The evening times rays shon over my left shoulder, silhouetting a long shadow flat on the course that awaited the light stamp of my legs.
It was warm, balmy. A night that rekindled a childhood holiday and the freedom and innocence that came with it. I tugged at my shirt, a work of sweat sapped the polyester against my body as the famous skyblue of Dublin GAA had clearly become a darker shade. The embroidery cursed my nipples as the damp material sat heavy on my back. Pulling the V-neck forward, I sighed with pleasure as a draft of fresh air liberated my flesh. The effort is the reward.

I looked to the right, casting little judgment on Dollymount Strand. The sight of everyday people seeking solace at the end of another working day had become a familiar one. Some walked their dogs, others strolled alone and just like myself, some challenged the coast at a finer pace by running. The brown sand lay bobbled and used along the beach; footprints and tyre tracks aplenty. An empty black sack sat half buried beneath the sand and an empty milk carton sat upon it rejecting the breeze. I’m often curious how these things end up where they are.

I wiped my brow and powered my nostrils in an effort to win some air. I began tackling the sand dunes in earnest. My favourite part of the run. The sea teased the beach with delicate waves upon the flat land, the tide working somewhere between being halfway in and halfway out. I‘ve claimed this terrain as my own. I know it well. A regular jaunt of freedom since I was 16. The winding track. The vertical impositions of nature. Having already taken to the roads and streets, a further 20 minutes negotiating the varied dunes followed by the gorgeous setting of St Anne’s Park presenting the direction of home.

This is the escape. The effort is the reward. This run never failed in feelings of achievement and goodness, a smile etched in duration and completion on any given night. I never regret a run. In battling the rising dunes and the strands of long grass that obstructed, all thoughts of ambition and desire fill my brain. Great thoughts. Good thoughts. Jobs. Goals. Career. Football. Girls. Writing. Family. Friends. Life. Wonderful.

Towering on along with these meandering pleasant daydreams and determinations sweat spooled down my forehead. Droplets stinging my eyes as one forearm met my face like a hardened sponge; soaking up the welcome residue that matted streams of lengthy hair to my somewhat glowing face. I need a haircut. I pinched my nose to wipe away the beads of sweat that hung delicately below the bridge. Climbing a steep mound of grass and grain I puffed loudly, stirring further my inner emotions of effort and achievement. Gaining momentum against the uphill climb. A regular point of trickiness that required attempts of peculiar dynamics to overcome. Sand filled my shoes; air filled my lungs. I feel tired. I feel good. I feel great. The effort is the reward.

Breaking into heaven

May 2010

I began working on a pathway to life’s conclusion immediately. I selfishly over thought the process. This spiralled disturbingly from pricing heavy ropes to examining the height of trees in St Anne’s Park and nearby grassland. In a truly sinister shift of deliberation, the coward in me later sought an excuse to conceal my demise; believing that dangling from a tree close to home was not appropriate. I changed my focus to finding a more understated manner in escaping the reality I had come to loathe.

This confusing observance of wanting something more subtle than escaping through a noose set from the closest tree to home was fuelled by two very different reasons; firstly the disturbingly low belief that in the aftermath of goodbye, I didn’t deserve the attention or discussion from neighbours or the local community, my exit should be unresponsive and go unnoticed. I was worthless. I would not be missed.

The second reason of avoiding goodbye close to home was that my family deserved to be left in peace, not to be haunted or scared by the reminder of my exit every time one of them walked around the corner. Buried beneath the unrelenting tragedy of self hate and anger was the glint of hope that in considering the thoughts and feelings of those closest to me showed my inner decency; this trail of compassion wrapped itself around me. I constantly tried to cut loose. I was worthless. I would not be missed. Still it clung on.

Although I believed I would be in a state of stillness for the final weeks, I was annoyed at myself for still caring. I was still angry, still acknowledging that there was a possibility that I shouldn’t feel this way; that I should be happy and have the right to be content. Going forward I ensured that my mood deteriorated further with tormenting rituals that became routine in my daily life; firstly I felt the need to look in the mirror at any given opportunity to remind myself that I was of course worthless and that I would not be missed. This started off very much ad hoc, once maybe twice a day, soon growing into a much bigger and damaging set play with insults and disparagement aimed at myself all too regularly.

I craved further hurt. I began eyeing strangers aggressively; insulting them should they challenge my glare. My intentions of hope being that I would be punched, kicked and ultimately receive the hurt and pain I deserved. I was of course worthless. I would not be missed.

I went to meet friends one night. As I sat in the pub, I looked around resenting the smiles and laughter of so many people enjoying the company of others. I sat alone. I watched as my friends interacted with each other, speaking about things I knew nothing about and things I maybe knew about, but was afraid to express my opinion on. I sat alone. I waited and watched. 20 minutes passed and no one approached me. I was invisible. An extra. A nobody. I was contributing nothing to any of this and clearly my absence would go noticed. In these moments I finally felt the stillness and relaxation I had craved. Time to go. I was worthless. I most definitely would not be missed.

I got up and left without notice.


A short period of time has passed since launching the blog. I have been very overwhelmed with the positive response from so many people and the connections that have made. People as near as Dun Laoghaire, Dundalk and Donegal and as far Norway, America and Australia.

I’ve had very open and heartfelt conversations with people who have suffered or are currently suffering with similar mental health issues. Each person has shared an incredible story of sadness as well as strength and resilience.

Having shared the blog, I have found my own mood to be upbeat and positive. I’m aware the content has been quite dark and somewhat harrowing, but I’ve found it enlightening to be so honest and upfront about my experiences for the first time in my life.

I’d like to continue my story…