Wednesday, 27 November 2013


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. I have to thank Mr Charles Dickens for the succinct clarity of the opening sentence because it sums up 2013 in the life of Ciaran Cooney better than I ever could. However, allow me to elucidate this often strange and often sad epoch of mine in some of my own words even if they fall short of said master of language above.

I began writing my thoughts down on here in late spring as a reaction to finding it an excruciating torment to say any of those things aloud. At that point I had back-slid so far into my depression that I'd had to step up my medication to it's maximum and go to a weekly therapy session. I could barely speak to my friends any more, was convinced I would never  be able to look at another woman again let alone talk to one and figured the odds of making it to twenty-seven were reducing exponentially on me. You can probably guess that this was during the worst of times.

The year had started relatively well too. Apart from the traditional post-Christmas blues I was thriving on the sense of a new start that January brings. I was motivated in a way I have almost never been before. I had my first semester exams and I studied hard for those. Meanwhile, I breezed though seven books in the time I wasn't studying. For a month I was probably more dedicated to exercise than I had ever been and by the time of my decline I was as fit as I had been in years. I was socialising without drinking. I was enjoying my life. Maybe that is part of the reason that the fall that was to follow felt particularly hard this time. Or maybe it is just that I've grown exhausted of trying to dig myself out of that hole.

Oddly enough I can pinpoint exactly where I was when this malignant hopelessness began to settle in. I was in a Chinese restaurant on a Saturday night in February. The 9th of February to be more precise. Enjoying a meal and a drink with colleagues and friends it suddenly struck me that I wasn't like anyone else there. I felt an obscure distance from the rest and my mind fell vacant so that I was almost unable to speak. I knew what was coming. The following day the pain in my body was such that I wanted to die. I would have died, if I had dared to.

A few days later I fell victim to a flu virus that was doing the rounds and together this and the depression sewed the seeds for seemingly terminal pain. The first two weeks of being sick where, to the best of my memory, the worst I have ever experienced. The physical torture combined with the mental decline at that moment was something I could scarcely survive twice.

It went on like this for a few months. Finally I was convinced to get help. This would mean more pills and a first crack at therapy. Sitting in the waiting room of a mental health clinic for the first appointment had, in my case at least, the pleasant effect of making me feel comparatively okay. I was sure I didn't need this the way the people beside me did. Looking back now though, I know I needed it. I needed to stop myself getting lost.

Strange as it may sound, I consider this submission to another for my mental well-being as a minor victory. It was something I had always laughed off before but in 2013 I finally did it because I had to. It was good for me. I needed to hear from someone with a clue that if I kept on the same track that the probability of suicide attempts was constantly increasing and that the day was getting quite close.

Scratching my way through to passing my first full year of college was a big win, even if I hated virtually every moment of that second semester. By rights I probably should have failed. I felt myself pitching and rolling and maybe on the verge of capsizing. This mature student thing wasn't nearly as much fun as I thought it was going to be. It appears fairly obvious to me now that I made a mistake when I decided on electronic engineering as the vehicle for my return to formal education. But I'm here now so I best just get on with it and keep those credits ticking over. Anyway, deciding on the wrong thing is often better than not deciding at all.

Summer, summer, summer-time! Last day in a mental health clinic (with a little luck, ever) coincided, somewhat serendipitously, with an afternoon flight to Edinburgh for my mates stag. Not going to romanticise it as  turning point but it was a kind of happy release because now I was free to enjoy myself for a few months and for the most part that is just what I did. I guess there is no point in boring anyone with the details, especially as I've already written most of the stupid shit I got up to. From getting twerked in Rome (perhaps due to me wearing suit and sunglasses at night) to trying to leverage £80 from a mate so I could shag a stripper it was mainly just good craic. The year most definitely peaked in Rome. The wedding of my two friends was perfect. The weather was perfect. The food occasionally a little disappointing but the craic ninety-one. The hangover was interminable.

I've had to settle back down to reality the last couple of months. I am finding myself reasonably dedicated to the course I'm doing even if I lack any aptitude for engineering at all. There is nowhere I have ever felt more stupid than in those classrooms. I will take some comfort knowing that Aristotle thought knowing ones own ignorance was a sign of intelligence. Feeling exhausted seems to be my default state at the moment. I find myself doing more hours at work than I did last year. It's all good though. I don't like being a poor student and there are so many things I like to spend money on. A return to Amsterdam is top of that list. Maybe January 2013.

Apparently it seems I am living the life I missed out on when I was 18 or 19. I've been told by different people recently that I am a sleazy, cheesy, flirt. A metro-sexual (fair enough), bisexual (I'm not), macklemore look-alike. I can see where most of that comes from. I was super-depressed when I was younger. I could hardly talk to anyone, definitely not the girls I fancied back then, so don't blame me for trying to have the fun I missed out on now. So what if I want to be a bit of a slut now, that doesn't make me bad. And anyway I'm nowhere near as big a slut as I'd like to be. Still, it's all just a bit of banter at the minute.

It's not that I'm cured. I still have the days when I can't talk, can't do anything. Days when I remember what it was like to want to die. I mean even today I'm here lying in bed because I really don't want to go out, although I might make another excuse. I went seven days without taking any fluoxetine, when I should be taking three a day. Proof if needed that self-destructive behaviour still lingers ominously. It just that now I know for certain that I'm not nearly done with life. There is too much to be had to stay in bed, like I have done for years and am doing today. So, I won't be doing it tomorrow or again any time soon.

I know some people who's version of life scares the shit out of me. It's not that there unhappy. More that they don't seem to care about anything that are the really good experiences. They seem satisfied to work, eat, sleep, stay in the same town forever and never see the world. Not interested in sex and never going to have children. In some way scared to live. That is my biggest nightmare. I'd rather die than grow older and old like that. It's not even the action that is important but the attitude, I need to know that there might be something more exciting out there for me.

With all that in mind I am actually looking forward to next year for the first time in my life. I used to look at it as the depressing passing of time that is impossible to hold back. Almost like, ' we're ll going to die anyway, why bother?' But now I think I can see that the real pleasure in starting a new year is all the possibility for improvement and hopefully some fucking excellent moments. Everyone should see it that way. If I can bounce, anyone can.

I suppose the moral of the 2013 story is that I'm not finished with life yet even when I know some days I hate it. Nobody should be. It's all out there waiting for you. You just need to decide what you want and then go get it. It is hard but it can be fun too.


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