My name is Chris Wild, I am the author of the book Damaged, a memoir of my life being brought up in the care sector. I struggled the best part of my life with depression, addiction, and mental health.
On 30th December 2007, I stood on a stool in my old house, Halifax, West Yorkshire, with a rope around my neck, I had made my peace with life, it didn’t want me and I didn’t want it.
I walked out of the door for the last time without a second glance. It was comforting in a surreal kind of way. I felt like I was high on drugs. It is a rare feeling to have no feeling, no thoughts, no nothing.
My brain was not being plagued by stress, I had been cleansed of all negativity, yet ironically, I was about to do the most negative thing ever.
Everyone says you do not really start living until you know it is all coming to an end. And that morning I really felt alive. It did not feel like I was being battered by a hammer constantly on my head, or that I had swallowed a poison that was burning my organs, melting them into liquid.
That mysterious thing they called anxiety had vanished and I could move my body and get out of bed for the first time, in a long time. I was content in a room pungent of emptiness.
It had been a while since I felt this good. I think the last time I felt like this was in my early twenties with no commitments, no life experience. What did I have to worry about then? My life was taken up by vanity. It was all about the weekend, looking good, feeling good, getting laid.
Money automatically made its way into the depths of my pockets, then somehow escaped through the palms of my hand without a blink of an eye, and I did not care. I stopped caring.
That is the sign I chose to ignore, that scientific process of nature. You do not get to decide if it is dark, or light, warm or cold. These are the things we do not control; they are already working away naturally as we gravitate towards a subnormal departure. If you were to read a book about it, the most clique answer would be ‘Mental illnesses. There I said it.
Depression, isolation, intoxication, indulgence, drugs, alcohol, death, trauma, abuse. It a perfect recipe for melancholy, suicide’s star players in the game of life.
I closed the door for the last time. I had devised my own end, written my last chapter. I was not angry, or bitter at nature’s request, I accepted it willingly. If it is a natural process then I was not going to challenge it, it was mutual on both sides.
It was 3am In the morning, I didn’t care about the time because now it didn’t matter, it had no relevance to my existence, my schedule was now ticking away at my own pace, I was the big and small hand, minutes didn’t make hours and hours didn’t make up my day. I was totally free from a methodical time zone. It was dark and cold, I liked it, to me that was the light, that was my peace, my tranquillity.
There was no one about, but what did it matter? The streets were always empty to me, even a busy Saturday on the high street was derelict, that is what happens when you become invisible. All my communication skills had crumbled away into isolation.
Everything had become laborious, there was no more need to make a conscious effort about anything. That was my freedom, my escapism. Every time I did something wrong as a child I was always asked “What were you thinking” now I know the answer. I was not thinking anything, that is why I did it.
When you let go of it all you float along, oblivious to the complexities. There is no obstacle, no intention, and no overall objective, these are conscious challenges that gravity uses to hold you down, these are the pressures of society, the immoral burdens of civilization.
But when you empty all out into something, anything, that is when it really makes sense. If it does not make sense, what does it matter? there is no other, only that, in which you have already decided. A decision is a thought-provoking set back, a neurological tyrant.
You put one foot in front of the other and you walk. I once wrote a letter to god and posted it to heaven. I do not think it ever reached its destination. I wanted to ask a few questions before I let go, things that I already knew the answer to but wanted clarification.
“Dear God”. I said.
“What gives you the right to immunize yourself”?
It was noticeably short and brief, at the time I thought it was relevant to ask a reasonable, thought provoking question. What did give him the right? How comes he gets to choose how and when? I wanted to rebel with defiance.
I wanted to show him that I too could make a bold decision. He created a beautiful existence, there is no denying that. I have visited the Lake District; I have seen his masterpiece. I have even indulged in nature’s arms, taken liberties of her gifts.
Love being the greatest one of all. I once loved myself, that was the worst kind of love. I loved a woman once, that was the most painful, and I loved my family, that had to be the most comforting. But I have never loved him personally, and I never will.
So, what makes me different?
I took ownership of my problems, and instead of hating them, I respected them. It was not going to go away so I embraced it and loved it. If I could not fight it, then I thought I might as well work with it. I went to drama school, I started painting, writing, I did whatever I could to focus my energy on living my life, not the life of my destruction.
I am now 40 years old, I am married with a beautiful wife, and two amazing children. I am a keynote speaker, youth ambassador, author, artist, and I still struggle with depression but now I take control of my problems, and I own them.
In December 2019 I joined a training group called Strongdad in Hertford. It has given me the strength both mentally and physically to keep going and believing in my future. It has made me like myself again and because of that I am a better husband to my wife, and a healthy father to my daughter.
That is the key to personal health – OWN IT.