It was mid-2011. I was seeing JB to get the results for my latest blood tests, they were as perfect as could be. John asked how I was feeling and for his trouble, copped an earful of negativity.
We had seen the Professor last week and the news was not good, I seemed to be in a downward spiral and both Billy and I had left the Professor with feelings of unease.
“You are depressed”
“John, Depression is an illness, I have been there and done that. Given my current situation it would be fucking weird if I did not have bad days. I am sorry, today is one of those days.”
“There are many types of depression, why don’t you take something to get you over the hump”
“No, I rather like the lows and the highs, I have been around long enough to know the lows will end and the sky will be brighter”
“I still think that you could use something to help you through”
Fucking Doctors, they have a pill for everything! LOL
We argued as good friends and Doctor/Patient, the lines were becoming a little blurred.
Finally, John said “OK, I will never bring up pills again if you agree to see this lady”
“Who is this lady?”
“She is a Psychologist who deals with a lot of people with HIV”
“John, HIV is the least of my problems, we have just done bloods and you told me yourself, I am doing well. I am far more worried about what is going on in my fucking brain”
“It’s like walking around with a noose round your fucking neck, some days it just feels tighter than others”
“I understand, but I really think, some time with Ruth may help you”
I agreed to see you and, for the next four years you became the rock I could trust and confide in.
We didn’t meet all that often, Perhaps six or seven times a year; but seeing you made the load a hell of a lot easier to carry.
I had known for ages that I was the lucky one in all of this; It was Billy and the kids who carried the bigger load. They watched as pieces fell apart and, often; they would react in mystifying ways.
Anger, frustration and belligerence would occasionally float to the surface as they grappled with what was happening to me.
I could not talk to other friends about this I understood what motivated these emotions and I was afraid people would judge Billy and the kids harshly.
That would have been unfair.
You became the person I could talk to, your role in my life became intrinsic. Often Billy would ask
“When are you seeing Ruth again, I think you need her”
You and I spent a lot of time working on, living in the present. I was ripe for this but somewhat sceptical. I had tried mediation many years ago and I was not prepared to waste 40 minutes each day of the time I had left, to go down this route again.
I had though; never forgotten my Mantra and you encouraged me to find ways I could integrate this into my life, I started to close my eyes at the traffic lights and within 20 seconds the mantra would take me away. Perhaps not the best time to do it, but it worked for me.
I remember reading many years ago, about Gary McDonald dealing with his depression, he used to keep reminding himself “I am OK at the moment” this became part of my Mindfulness Armory.
You encouraged me to live the old Buddhist saying “you cannot change the past, but you can destroy the present, by worrying too much about the future”
You gave me new tools like 5,4,3,2,1 to bring myself back to the present when the future seemed shitty.
5 Things you can see, 4 Things you can hear, 3 things you can smell, 2 things you can feel, 1 thing you can taste
It is impossible to run through this checklist and not be brought back to the present, I became almost addicted.
Kayla and I did the online “Mindfulness in May” and you encouraged me to explore this.
To this day, I often go to sleep reciting; “May I be happy, may I be healthy, may I be safe and; may I live with ease”
You made me separate my fear of quackery from the things that actually helped me through the dark moments and you encouraged me to write my life.
I anyone ever reads this interminable journal, they have you to thank. LOL
I was sorry in mid 2016 when you said you were leaving, but I thank you for the time we had. I probably would have got through, in some way without you.
But, and this is a big but, you made it so much easier and I am a better person for having had this time with you.
My family, my friends and Billy owe you a huge debt of gratitude.
I owe you, my well being!
PS the new man is different but I am liking him. He thinks I am sane.
I tell him, it is all your doing!