It's taken a long time to get to this point, but now I feel it is the right moment to address what happened last year to me and my impossible brain.
Looking back, I think things began to go awry the night of the fire in my apartment block back in November 2014. Just a couple of hours before, still late at night, I'd been drinking and I was a little inebriated and, thus, feeling desperately sorry for myself. I started scratching away at my wrists with a safety razor - I know, I know... madness! I went to bed feeling like an idiot and with poorly bandaged extremities. Two hours later, I was awoken by a fireman banging on my door alerting me to the inferno just feet away from my apartment.
I spent the next seven hours out in the cold in just a pair of trainers, tracksuit bottoms and a jumper - no underwear. This was not a pleasant experience. Luckily, I had a friend who was able to put me up for a couple of weeks until it was safe to return to the building. I am lucky that my apartment was unscathed by the fire and water damage.
Christmas passed and in the New Year, it became clear that I ought to find a safer and cheaper alternative to my current abode. I didn't want to move, because I loved that apartment, but I had to for the sake of my wallet.
I eventually found a place that was pet-friendly but it wasn't quite the comfortable residence I was used to. It was a little too cramped and without any mod-cons. Then, of course, the worse thing happened... I lost Fizzgig, my dear beloved cat.
I was distraught, but we all know about that as I went on and on about it for ages...
Mid-year, I turned 40 and, almost coincidentally, I lost the plot. I became so unhappy in my own skin. I started thinking I was toxic and unpleasant to be around, so I hid away from the world and cut myself off from my friends. I went to work, of course, but apart from that, I stayed indoors in my flat feeling pathetically sorry for myself. This lasted for a few weeks. One of my closest friends had been overseas for the duration and, upon his return, he metaphorically wrenched me out of my self-pity by the collar and slapped me (again, figuratively). Sometimes I need someone to speak sense to me.
However, work was getting worse and worse. I no longer enjoyed my role and the open-plan was eating my soul (again, I have bitched about that for all and sundry to hear!) and I no longer felt that I was working for a company that stood for the same values and ethics that I hold so dear. It was horrendous. Just entering that building each day made me feel physically sick.
Then, one pathetic night in late September/early October, I made a big mistake; I tried to give up on everything... again.
After necking two bottles of wine and a bunch of diazepam and paracetamol, I wrote a note and started drunkenly hacking away at my wrists again. It wasn't pretty. It was only when some blood smeared on the note that I had a startling epiphany. I don't know why, but that image of red on the beige page was a startling wake-up call. Even though it was late at night, I sent a cry for help. Thanks to the quick thinking of the recipient, I was soon in the care of the police and the paramedics and I was kept in hospital overnight.
The following week, I was off work. I was instructed to be with people all the time so I couch-surfed between different friends' homes. I was taken care of and I begun to wonder why I had ever questioned their love for me...
The following Monday, I went back to work and, whilst in a meeting with HR at nine o'clock, I broke down again. When asked what would help, I said "Going home..." meaning the UK.
I don't remember much of last year despite (usually) having an astonishing memory for detail. 2015 is pretty much a blur apart from these defining moments. I don't really recall the details of how I managed to get everything sorted and get my backside back home to Blighty. Since returning just before Christmas, I have had a few panic attacks about the whole thing and wondering if I have made the right decision. I really enjoyed my independence, my autonomy (to an extent) in Australia. I miss the superb friends I made over the 16 years. I am currently unemployed, broke and lacking that sense of freedom I was so used to.
OBVIOUSLY, I know that there are millions of people in this world who are in much more dire situations, so don't think for one moment I am being ignorant of that, but this is just me attempting to be cathartic...
Hopefully, I will find a job soon - one that I like and one that makes me feel good about myself. Then I can find a new home for myself and set up the cocoon that I need so much. Maybe I will get another cat. I will reconnect with old friends, stay in touch with Aussie friends and, hopefully, make some new ones.
I need my confidence back. I need to feel like the old Ben that used to sing, dance and laugh. He has been missing for too long. I have a blank slate and now it's time to reclaim that personality that made people like me in the first place.
One last thing, I want to thank all those who helped me through my darkest period. I shan't list you all because you know who you are. I wouldn't be here without you all.