Mercer's Poems
Still Just a Disabled.

To the untrained eye, I don’t look sick. You could see me walking around the streets and not realise that there was a damn thing wrong with me. 

This is actually what society wants. My condition is an inconvenience to the world, something to cover up and hide, something to ‘get on with’, something that burdens this ever-grinding system of economic cogs…This is why it is easy to be sucked into believing there is nothing wrong with me, like the rest of you.

The problem is, for all the effort I put in to getting some ‘normality’ (whatever the hell that is!) back into my life. For all the positive steps I take and for all the effort I personally put in, there shall always be some box ticking, bureaucratic bastard who wants me to jump through hoops, there shall always be the difficulty of explaining time and again just what is wrong with me, and just when it seems like everything is going okay, there shall always be something that causes a sporadic anxiety attack. 

Anxiety and panic disorders (of which I have both) are unusual things…The anxiety disorder is a general sense of foreboding that can overcome you. Sometimes this can last a long time (as it will be today, by all accounts!) sometimes it can be a short moment - but it always impacts negatively on the day. There is nothing like a sleepless night wrought with anxious thoughts, followed by an anxiety attack when you finally wake up at 1pm for an appointment to fuck up your day, fuck up your mood and make you think “Fuck my appointment.” That is what has happened to me today. That is why I am in a terrible mood, it is why I feel lost, helpless, hopeless, useless, depressed and barely living. At least it wasn’t a panic attack…That’s the only positive. The difference, you ask? Well, an anxiety attack has you feeling like something bad might happen, your heart races, your brain aches - but you can keep your wits, and calm yourself down. With a panic, none of that is possible. Your body takes over, your mind goes blank and you are at the mercy of fear and adrenaline. Imagine the kind of pure mortal panic you would feel if someone told you the entire world was about to explode, you will die, as will all your loved ones, and life as you know it will cease to be…That’s what I feel like in full blown panic…I run around like a headless chicken, I scream, exclaim, moan, groan, my heart rate is more akin to that of a hummingbird than a human, 

The worst thing about it is these things are not going away. When the body finds a coping mechanism via depression, or anxiety and panic attacks - it has a nasty habit of repeating them. For all the hard work, the drugs, the therapy - it doesn’t mean a damn thing to my body if it feels like doing its own thing as I sadly found out today. My life has been consumed by these things. The past three or so years of my life have been defined by them. Everything I once had was lost to them, and now as I try and build myself back up I find not a wave of support and assistance to get me where I want to be (though there is some)…Not people making efforts to get me to a place in my life where I am happy and comfortable. No, instead it is me who is expected to jump through hoops. It is me that has to be asked questions, subjected to scrutiny, accused of laziness, suspected of telling lies for some kind of disability funded easy life…THIS IS NOT A FUCKING EASY LIFE! This is an embarrassing life, a debilitating life, a destitute life. You think the government gives me fucking hand outs of massive amounts of cash and support? WELL THEY DON’T! You think people line the streets to give me support? WELL THEY DON’T! You think I’m making it up for some stupid fucking reason!? WELL I AM NOT! I WISH I WAS! I wish this were all a lie, I wish my life was as normal as it were a few years ago, I wish I did not have to contend with the worry, every damn day, that this may be my last sane day and tomorrow I could wake up as anxious, panicky, batty and fear fuelled as I have been before! 

I wish it was written all over my body…I wish people could see it, so they could recognise it more. To have an illness in itself is a horrible thing, but to have one so poorly understood and difficult to recognise is torture. I could have woken up today full of hope, positivity and energy. Instead I woke up in a state of anxiety. This drains your energy, saps your mood, and makes the rest of the day intolerable. I was supposed to be in an appointment at 2pm (about twelve minutes ago) I could have made it, but my anxiety earlier means I don’t have the confidence to leave the house lest it happen again. I lived in a prison like that for so long at one point. Around 6-9 months, possibly longer, I don’t remember. I don’t remember much from that time. I was not a human being then, I was a mentally void humanoid entity of fear. One bad trigger, one negative event too much for me to handle and my entire world could come crashing down again and I could be back in that jail of fear…I don’t want that. I don’t want that, but the world around me wanting to rush back to normality does not seem to want to prepare me for it. To arm me with the right tools and techniques to fight it off…Instead it wants me back in some kind of employability training, jumping back into those ever-grinding economic gears that recognise us not as human individuals, with thoughts, feelings, lives, problems - but as capital, to be squeezed, drained and used…

I think we need to start respecting human beings and their health a little more, and worrying a little less about the economy. The cuts to health services, benefits, care packages etc. is grotesque, and is being sold to ignorant people under the banner that those with illnesses are just lazy. This is nothing but inhumane prejudice, and completely wrong. What is more, by manufacturing new enemies in immigrants, the disabled, the unemployed - the focus is taken off of the true villains who drain this economy - the politicians, the bankers, the wealth hoarders. Who is really to blame for societies ills? The banks, who due to their own fuck ups and their begging have received BILLIONS in public money, the ‘defence’ industry who claim to protect the country but are actually off fighting wars that cost BILLIONS but serve no real purpose to the UK people, HM Revenue and Customs who allow massive corporations to get away with BILLIONS of pounds in tax breaks, the politicians whose expenses claims took MILLIONS in public money to spend on pointless luxuries…Or someone with an illness on £60 a week? It’s a no brainer.  

I Should Be Dead

I don’t know whether you find changing your bed sheets irritating. I find it irritating. It seems to wear me out like no other household task. I look daft while doing it. I utilise the method whereby you turn the duvet cover inside out and pulling it over the duvet; it usually ends up with me dressed up in some effeminately coloured bed spread looking like a homosexual ghost with bad taste. It would be safe to say I abhor the task but, on this particular day, I find is specifically irritating due to the fact that I should be dead.
Let me explain. A few months ago, I made a decision to take my own life. I have been suffering from seemingly uncontrollable anxiety and depression for many years and, with my life a conveyor belt to nowhere being led by those conditions I decided I would opt out of any more days and take a nap for a rather long, effectively eternal, while. My chosen method of doing so was a staggered overdose of co-codamol pills. For those not in the know, co-codamol is a mixture of codeine and paracetamol. The staggering was deliberate, intended to get as much of the drug in my system as possible before the inevitable vomiting, and in the hope that the codeine would in some way ease the pain of what was to come, given that paracetamol overdose entails such pleasantries as haemorrhaging, organ failure, vomiting, brain damage, those sorts of things. So I deliberately spaced out the dose and built up the drug in my system to make the experience easier on myself but also to make it more difficult for any treatment to be administered should that be required.
Things, alas, did not go well.

Suffering from anxiety disorder as I do, I had to make a conscious effort to remain calm. Death is quite a big fear of mine and to have been brave enough in myself to have accepted it came with also having to keep myself brave throughout the day as I tried to off myself. All this was going fabulously well until I vomited for the first time. I was too completely and utterly out of my face on codeine at this time, but I can only assume that anxiety, despite having little effect on my body had an effect on my brain, because I can remember saying, with ridiculous coolness and calm “I think you’d better call an ambulance”, to my mother (I live with my mother thanks to mental illness and circumstance having fucked up my life). I said that with such a casual nature, as if this were just an everyday request! And that’s how it came to be. That’s how I came to be alive, at that moment, dressed up like a homosexual undead spirit putting a duvet cover on a duvet when I should be laying at rest. So if you’re doing something right now, maybe you’re on the commute to work or, even taking a break at work, that you find irritating, and a chore, just imagine for a second how it would feel to be doing that two days after you were wholly expecting to be deceased, and imagine what your reaction to it would be. I bet you’re expecting your reaction would be something drastic, dramatic and explosive. Something that makes the world sit up and take note of the fact that you categorically do not wish to participate in this task…Well, mark my words, it won’t be. What will happen is this you will have something to do that you hate. You will huff, frown disapprovingly, and then do it. You will sigh. That is all.
People always tell you life is a gift. But if atheists are to be believed then life is merely an extremely short, disappointing and inconvenient filling in the sandwich of two thick slices of uninterrupted peaceful eternity. 

So, here I am. I am here. I shouldn’t be here. But I am. Quite what I’m supposed to do about that I don’t know. When I was about 13 or 14 years old, I got caught shoplifting. I’d like to say it was the first time I had done it but, alas, I had gotten away with a fair deal of robbery from my local Woolworths at the time and would like to think a delayed stock check is what put them out of business. On this occasion I was caught stealing a Parker pen and a pencil case…I couldn’t have got caught robbing something considered a ‘luxury’ could I! Anyway, the point is, since that day, the day I was a failed criminal, I vowed never to steal a thing again and I have been true to my word, and, since that day, my attitude towards life has been “Forget if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again”…Instead, if at first you don’t succeed, move on, because if you fail at first, you’re probably a bit rubbish at what it is you’re trying to do. By all means if you fail at second or third, feel free to continue, but if you fail at first, give it up, son! And that’s the situation I now find myself stuck with.
                I don’t know if you’ve ever had the situation where you find yourself a partner, could be male or female, I am unaware of your gender. But they have a pet. This pet is the absolute life and soul of this individual, they live for it. It’s usually a dog, because, let’s be honest, dog people are a little bit obsessive over their little, smelly, hairy ‘babies’. But there are these individuals who so adore their pets that all you can feel for it is soulless apathy. You feel nothing about it. On the one hand, you don’t particularly mind it being there, but, nor would you be too quick in unzipping, or dropping your jeans to urinate on it if it was on fire; that sort of…apathetic, nothing feeling. Well that’s kind of how I felt about life at the time. I’ve got it. I don’t necessarily want it. But I’ve got it all the same.

Anyway, I feel I’ve kind of dropped a bomb here without any build up or explanation. Just an almost casual “I tried to kill myself”, said with such seriousness that were it being typed in an online instant messaging program you’d half expect it to have a ‘lol’ after it. But make no mistake, it was a serious attempt to take my own life and, indeed the only funny thing about it is the fact that I failed. I mean, I’m that much of a failure that I can’t even kill myself. You’d have to laugh otherwise…well, otherwise you’d kill yourself but since it seems I can’t actually manage that, so I feel that I may as well laugh.

Why don’t I tell you about the day it happened? Well, even if you don’t feel like hearing it I’m going to do so anyway because this is my catharsis, not yours! So, there I was, sat alone on my bed, I had a mass of pills stuffed down the back from my previous escapades of recreationally dosing myself up on prescription grade opiates, and I had a decision to make. I want it to be known that not a shred of my mental capacity was against this idea. I thought very long and very hard, as anyone wishing to take their own life would. Indeed, the seeming spontaneity of it was merely the by-product of many agonising weeks thinking about it.
And in case you think it is easy to think about, actually take a second to consider the implications. For one thing you have to think about every possibility of what death could entail. Was it the atheistic endlessness and nothingness that I think the majority of us believe? If so that’s a pretty scary thought, isn’t it? Initiating your own fading to eternal blackness and the finality that accompanies it. Knowing that you would take, nor influence no further action in a world or universe you once inhabited with sentience, intelligence and knowledge. Thinking about that for too long won’t just make you near crazy; it’ll put you damn well over the edge. You’ll be tonguing windows and babbling like the best of them after letting those sorts of ideas swim around your cranium too long. But in my cranium they swam. I thought about it and I thought that, do you know what. I could accept that.
Then you get onto Judeo-Christian ideas of heaven and hell. You can rule out heaven straight away. I try to keep my nose relatively clean but, alas I fear that at the time of consideration my sins far outweighed any good I had done in the world, plus, I’d be killing myself. I was tantamount to a murderer in the eyes of the Lord except, I am a murderer so pathetic that the only victim I would ever have taken would have been I. So Hell it was; the eternal fires of unholy damnation. I would be punished and tortured for the rest of my days. Never feeling a moments comfort, never feeling a moments respite. Permanently awake, permanently punished, permanent, eternal torture. Think about it for a moment. Imagine the worst beating you have ever taken. Imagine the harshest arse-whooping you have ever been given for whatever reason, the one that made you most uncomfortable, that made you think, very quickly into the experience “I wish this was over!” Now imagine an ETERNITY of that. You can’t and, I shall tell you for why; because the human mind is incapable of contemplating eternity. But just imagine it for a really, really long time. Combine your worst ever beating with the longest, most tedious period of time you could imagine and multiply the two together and, guess what? You’re not even a fraction close to what hell would be like. But, do you know what? I had come to terms with that possibility. My Earthly days were already torture, every waking moment. So the only difference would be the scenery and the fact that my torture in hell would predominantly be physical, something which I can take much better than mental torture such as the kind I had been feeling.
Then, we begin to think about Eastern mysticism. What if I were reincarnated? What if I had done so little with my pathetic life that I was reincarnated as an abused puppy? What if I were reincarnated as a worm?  Well then at least I wouldn’t be that most base of life form, me. There is nothing that I couldn’t be that wouldn’t give me more pride, satisfaction or hope than being myself.
Then of course we have abstract ideas, but I didn’t meditate on these too long. Things like what if I end up as part of an ethereal, amorphous, sentient mass or what happens if I end up as a ghost and not realise it like Bruce Willis in the Sixth Sense?…Of course these leads to further abstractions, such as what if I am actually in a rubbish M. Knight Shamyalan movie and it turns out I’m actually a chicken dancing the polka on Europa, the moon of Jupiter, and it’s actually the future, but in the past, having a dream of being a incredibly rubbish human being. Basically, there are a lot of considerations to make before you put those tablets in your mouth.

But I made all those considerations and came to the conclusion that it would probably be best if I died. The biggest thing you have to think about is not the consequences to you of your actions. What happens happens. But you have to think about what about those you leave behind? I couldn’t help and indeed can’t help, feeling like I am a constant burden and disappointment to my family and loved ones. I don’t know what it is in my brain but I can’t say I have ever felt otherwise. I could be an overly wealthy multi-billionaire rockstar/actor/musician/politician/oil baron/philanthropist/priest/pimp/whatever, I’m getting carried away. The point is I could be overlord of Earth and I would still feel I was holding people back or that I was in some way inconveniencing them. I’ve never felt anyone be proud of anything I’ve done. Least of all myself.
So, the upshot of it all was that, after literally everything had been considered, I had decided that it was the best course of action for me, my family, my loved ones, and my wider circle of friends if I was just dead. It seems a harsh and selfish choice and, in a way, I suppose it is, but to all the people who say that suicide is selfish, think for a moment. Your idea is that it is selfish because you’re leaving people behind in grief. But is it not just as selfish to suggest that someone should continue living in pain. Because a mental condition does cause pain. Waking up in the morning knowing that it’s not you in your body and mind. That you’re someone else. Feeling constantly terrible, feeling drained of energy and motivation, feeling disheartened and heartbroken. That hurts. It’s a terrible pain too. So, call it selfish but I say it’s swings and roundabouts, it’s just as selfish to suggest someone should keep living in pain because you’d be sad if they died.

So there I was, mind made up, pills in mouth, nice drink of Blackcurrent Hi-Juice cordial to wash them down. Yup, that’s correct. I didn’t drink alcohol with my overdose as so many do. There was no need for any Dutch courage or, courage of any fluid inspired form. This was cold, calculated, deliberate. I didn’t want anyone having any misconceptions about my intentions. It’s weird really because I had grown very fond of alcohol. It had become a sort of crutch through difficult times, but, I just felt if I was going to be serious about it I didn’t want my judgement clouded.

And, well I don’t much remember the rest. For a while I sat about listening to music and chewing down handfuls of tablets. This lasted a few hours as I drifted deeper and deeper into what became a ludicrously high state and beyond that I barely remember a thing. I wrote a poem at that time, that is the one entitled “No Angels Weep”, and my breathing became more and more laboured, my eyes droopier, I got very tired and then we’re back to the part where I vomited. Then I woke up in a hospital.

The hospital visit was possibly the strangest thing. I kept apologising to everyone, doctors and nurses. I was apologising for being there. I felt guilty, and rightfully so because my own misery and self-pity was now taking their care away from more deserving patients. I was stuck on a ward with a bunch of decrepit old men, which was probably the worst place to be. It was like a testament to the frailty and indignity that was to come thanks to my having failed. If there is a God he’s got one fucked up sense of humour.
During one day, I had quite a bad headache. The lovely nurse asked me if I wanted anything for it and I had to reply “No, I think I’ll just suffer, it seems rather strange asking for painkillers given why I’m here!”
And then there was the fact that the cannula got wrongly inserted from my drip overnight and I woke up the next day with a very fat arm.

When I got out of hospital it was possibly one of the strangest and incredibly coincidental periods of time I can remember. It was almost out of the blue, some mental health professionals came to see me and said that I could go home the same day. “Brilliant” I thought! I’m evidently quite mental and yet they think I’m fit to go back to the scene of my attempted demise without so much as a “You should stay in hospital for a bit on the psychiatric ward…” nope, just home. I rang my mother to tell her that I was being released from captivity, and she got in touch with my dad to come and pick me up. When he arrived I told him about my chat with the mental health team. I told him how they had told me that I would probably be refused psychotherapy because of my recent suicide bid; he said “Well, who does deal with people like that then?”

“Funeral directors!” was my rather dry, sarcastic reply. My dad didn’t seem too impressed. Either way, we jumped in the car and got ready to set off. Dad flicked that little switch to turn the radio on and what do I hear? Well, first of all Bon Jovi telling me “You live for the fight if that’s all that you’ve got!”

“How apt!” I thought to myself. I didn’t particularly feel like I had any fight left, however so this song irritated me a little. I wanted to be dead and here was someone telling me to keep living. What a presumptuous git. But, it doesn’t end there…Oh no! Next song up…”Good life, good life, good life, good life!” NO! No it isn’t a good life, it’s a shitty one. OH! BUT WAIT! There’s more. What should come on after that but “Don’t leave me this way” by the Communards…I wish this was a joke. It really isn’t I literally got barraged by songs telling me how I should be happy to be alive and shouldn’t have tried to take my own life! It was the most coincidental thing that had ever happened to me!

The whole event put a lot in perspective for me. It’s not been an easy path I’ve had to tread, but nor has it been the hardest the world has ever seen but, evidently something in my neurobiology finds it difficult to cope. But little things like my funny fat arm, which looked popeye-ish and amusing, the impressive quick wit with which I didn’t impress my dad, and the strange musical coincidence all highlight reasons why life is so precious. I won’t get a chance to experience these things again. Even if every one of my days is spent in mental anguish, that struggle is worth it if in that time I can give someone one single smile.

So that’s what I decided to do. That’s what a man who has a lifetime of days he doesn’t want does with them. He tries to make others happy. He tries to make other people’s lives better because he knows how it feels when it’s not going well. And maybe, at some point in the pursuit of this mission, he may just find a reason why he should be happy he is alive for himself, too.