Author: Katie Garnish
December 13th, 2017. It’s a Wednesday, and I fancy a drink. Shockingly, as a 22-year-old student, a drink seems to be harder and harder to come by these days. No one ever tells you how busy you’ll get at university and how much your priorities shift. Well, through my personal experience they’ve shifted, for the better, one would hope. Regardless, this evening, my system requires a drink, an alcoholic drink. Furthermore, my system does not only require a drink, but also human companionship. This dependability isn’t uncommon with me, although I dare say it is uncommon to a lot of twenty-somethings. To be locked away, in some box room filled with books and DVSs you thought you would watch but never have because your laptop doesn’t have a disk drive anymore, but regardless you brought them because they’re yours, you are hidden form parents, teachers even society - any student’s dream. However, tonight, I am in need of friendship and human interaction. I cannot bear to be alone with my own mind anymore. The pub seems a good idea.
I’ve always thought my relationship with my mind is quite beautiful. Whilst many people may go through life thinking that whatever’s in their head is just wires or cotton wool, I have an incredible friendship with my brain. A formal understanding and control over where thoughts came from and how they can be developed or exposed of, there is little space there mind you, but enough for what’s important. But today, Wednesday, it fails me.
Although we all, as humans, make great efforts to prepare ourselves for anything that may come our way, life does like to throw a curve ball at you every so often. Take last Saturday. Before doing my weekly drive of the M25, I Googled the traffic stars and noticed there was a great deal of traffic gathered around Dartford Crossing (not uncommon) so before I set out I was adamant to make good use of the open road before the bumper to bumper queuing began. So, whilst pelting down the motorway, far above the required speed limit, I hit something that made a rather loud, alarming noise. Looking in my rearview mirror I saw no pothole, or, in fact, any cause of the noise at all, so I continued. Only, at least, ten miles later did another driver point at my wheel whilst over-taking me. Pulling into the services I parked, and before even getting round the car to see the damage I new what I had done. The smell of burnt rubber was almost unbearable, what I imagine burnt human flesh would smell like, not that I would know. Never the less I emptied the contents of my Ford Fiesta boot and began removing my wheel to replace with the spare. However, although this an awkward and unhelpful situation, I was as prepared as I could’ve been and within 30 minutes I was back on the road, to sit in the Dartford bumper to bumper traffic.
Today, Wednesday, is different. My brilliant brain is at a loss for words. I’ve not just missed the curve ball life has thrown at me, but it has hit me right in the gut leaving me winded on the ground, gasping for breath. It feels as though a soul has left my body. Something I was once at one with has now vacated for eternity and nothing is left. Nothing but the cold air to bite my toes at night, the crisp whisper of his last few words haunting my dreams. The darkness has never seemed darker, as if I am blind; born with sight but now I cannot see. The black hole of numb envelops my entire existence killing any sign of hope with its unwanted kiss. I am strong, I am smart and I am alive, but life couldn’t help the temptation of killing happiness with the lowest blow of all. I cannot treat today as a flat tyre, because I don't have a spare, the tools, nor knowledge of how to change it.
At the pub I am joined by my two closest friends from university; Jemima and Chris, who have very kindly sacrificed their evening to be with me. We have come to our, bellow average health and safety standard, local pub, The William Cobbett. Upon arrival to the pub the initial sense to be penetrated is that of smell. A cloud of smoke greets you at the door and although smoking is banned to the cold December outdoors, the smell still follows its owner inside. Helping build the condensation on the windows, the air is thick and stale. My nostrils are tormented with the additional scent of marijuana, often it makes me sneeze, coming from the pair of young lads nursing ciders at the booth in the corner. Both ciders, both dreadlocks, both gay. We shuffle our way to the bar as we delayer ourselves of scarves, hats and coats. I lay my gloves on the disheveled wooden bar, scrapped and dented, coated in sticky residue that can only be determined as a spill of every liquid they sell mixed together. The lighting is dim despite all visible lights being turned on, with the sun setting later in these winter months we’ll barely be able to see from one side of the room to the other. I love this pub despite its mold and general grime. I order my usual, a pint of Stella. Although I dislike the taste of many beers, Stella doesn’t repel me. Its reputation and age even intimidates me and therefore the only way to overcome that intimidation, is by drinking them as often as you can, when the opportunity arises, obviously. We take a table towards the right of the bar. One of the better lit tables thanks to a small, bright red, angle-poise lamp sitting on a crate to our left. The table is unbelievably wobbly and through further inspection the pile of cardboard coasters under one of the legs is failing to do its job, all the same, we sit.
The room is filled with noise - a variety of voices. Men complaining about their wives, wives complaining about their men, the gentle clink of glasses hitting each other as the bartender empties the dishwasher. Upstairs the jukebox is on, ‘The Chain’ by Fleetwood Mac, its bass travels through the floor vibrating the collection of train tickets pinned to the wall. Despite this symphony of racket, our dim little table is silent. Although each of us are looking around the room to avoid eye contact we are all innately aware of each others, even the slightest of movement gains our attention. Jemima strokes the cool condensation on the side of her glass. She begins to make shapes, dragging her finger gently up and down the glass; she finishes her pattern by lifting the glass for a celebratory sip, leaving her handprint amongst the pattern. Jemima is an oddly attractive girl. She too is about 20, however, she does not seem quite as far along as my reflection would suggest. Although very mature, her face gives her innocence away. I watch her large eyes scrambling around the room in hope to not meet mine, such young blue eyes. Her pale complexion bodes with her fair hair and soft features. He never liked it when I was blonde, didn’t think I could pull it off. Jemima finally locks her eyes to mine, at first a humorous confused looked followed by a soft smile. She un-tucks her hair from behind her ears to help hide them and takes another sip of her drink. A tiger gemstone encased in a silver ring, on her thin middle finger, chimes against the side of the glass, through the commotion of the pub the sound dissipates immediately. I don’t remember a time I have ever seen Jemima quiet for this long. Her shoulders shudder violently beneath her enormous khaki green coat, “Cold, isn’t it?” she exclaims as she returns her hands to her pockets.
Chris provides an answer for the both of us with a simple shake of his head. He is looking down at his phone, which is lying on our rickety table. Chris is not wearing his coat. He is in only a purple button-up shirt and black corduroy trousers. His rounded glasses reflect the phone screen, woman after woman posing on his Instagram feed. Looking down, his glasses would fall off anyone else’s nose, but not Chris’. For his glasses, silver reflective frames, slipped brilliantly into a groove between his eyes. Snugly wedged they do not slip down his right-angled triangle of a nose. Chris’ nose is by far his best feature. Surrounded by freckles and kinking slightly to the right, his nose helps frame his face from the middle, outward. My view of his profile illustrates his chiseled cheekbones, sliding down towards his cupid’s bow, again, angular and sharp. Thick black hair rolls off his shoulders, only helping frame his dark features. His eyes follow his finger scrolling downwards through Instagram, such hooded eyes. Though part of such a sculpted face, Chris’ eyes let on to his heart - soft.
Lack of mental has never been a problem I have had to endure, yet; but my brilliant brain appears to be failing me. Although surrounded by my friends in a living and thriving environment, I seem to not be able to see anything but the darkness he has left behind. I wish I could re-start my brain, give it a ten second break and then reload all its own software to the last well-functioning time, but my brain, above all things, is refusing me. I look around my empty head for some form of life. The control panel to my emotions has been abandoned, on autopilot. Dust gathers on the filing cabinets of happy thoughts, they are locked and the key is nowhere to be found. My soul is left standing in the office behind my eyes, alone, not knowing what to do. Depression is often mistaken for the feeling of sadness, commonly associated with loss or heartbreak, however the correct definition of depression is the total and complete lack of feeling. A numb being, that will never be animated again.
Jemima is now also looking at her phone, intently. She brings it close to her face as though trying to read something, her eyes squinting at the illuminated screen; her glasses must be at home. I look into my pint glass, the greasy lip residue against the side, gentle fizzy bubbles gliding to the surface before expanding to the outer rim. I swirl the glass anti-clockwise before taking another sip. The cold liquid filtering down my throat, one drip at a time it burns my chest with its icy touch. Drip. I lay the glass back onto the table to the left of the water ring previously created. Drip. Again I lift the glass to begin to create the symbol for the Olympic rings with my condensation glass, but before the fifth ring can be made my water supply is dry. Typical.
Chris locked his iPhone, the quiet click bringing about my attention. His nails are so long for a man’s, long and wide, on such feminine hands. He wears a platinum ring on his thumb, I have never been a fan of men’s jewellery but the girly-ness of his nails allows it to look seamless amongst his fingers. His deep raspy voice asks, “how you doin’?” to which Jemima also peers up from her phone. I shrug my shoulders as nonchalantly as possible. As I do so, my shoulders brush against the ends of my hair, tickling slightly, I’ve missed having long hair.
“Have you had much sleep?” Chris asks, “You look tired.” My response is delayed as I tie back my hair in a scruffy bun, as high up my head as possible. Random strands fall from the back. “I’m fine, just not wearing makeup.” I finally say. I’m tired of tears ruining my mascara. Boys can be so oblivious to a girl’s appearance, the same guy could introduce himself to me during the day and then again at night with my makeup being my best magic trick. The silence returns louder this time. We sit blankly staring at one another, attempting to smile casually.
The pub door swings round as a large group of students suddenly burst through the door, laughing and shouting together. Again in layers to protect themselves from the outside air, though they are wearing far fewer clothes than us. They collectively stand at the bar cackling to themselves, girls with bright cherry red lipstick on, in tight skinny jeans with low-cut tops with just their hair to protect their cleavage. Boys press themselves against them in tight white shirts, muscles rippling and bursting out of every escape. I revolt at the idea of such shallowness in a person.
I wore cherry red lipstick for the first time last week in eight months. I never wore lipstick when he was with me, it would constantly be found on every surface available. His shirt, my sheets, his lips. The group of youths takes a booth parallel to the boys high as kites. Their booth is much larger however. A large round oak table with five legs sits between a set of three benches, each covered in a velvet green cushion. Above the backboard, on the wall, is an old railway sign nailed into the exposed brick. “Tottenham Court Road”. Dented and dusty it acts as the focus for that wall, surrounded by a collection of bottle caps and newspaper cuttings, its harsh metal edges embossed away from the wall.
Jemima’s hand slides its way across the table to grip my own, firmly. She’s ruined my unfinished water Olympic rings. Her cold thin fingers wrap their way around my knuckles firmly, and she squeezes. Her nails are painted red, for the holiday season, deep glittery red, sharpened to a point. Her nails are so long, in fact, they poke themselves into my palm. I can feel each of her four fingers burying themselves in my skin. I have clammy, warm hands. She stares straight into my eyes, looking for some form of life behind them. Her eyebrows are soft, thin, almost invisible being so blonde. I smile back at her, placing my other hand over hers, knocking my glass as I do so; it wobbles in circles but regains balance without loosing a drop of beer.
I could find someone else, someone different. Someone with a different nose to his, maybe a different smile. I could get married, have a child, and maybe even be happy. All seems such a distant dream now. I am not one to plan; nothing in this world is predictable. But one can try to be as prepared as possible, tins of food stacked up as high as your bomb shelter kind of thing.
It’s Wednesday, December 13th, 2017. Someone I loved died today. I have never experienced something like this before, the complete and utter lack of emotion. I cry and yet no tears fall from my eyes. My ducts are dry and crusty. But within me, I dare say, within that office of a mind, there could possibly be a small solution. When I got a flat tyre at the side of the road my first instinct was to call somebody. That human like instinct is set deep within me. Within all of us. It’s the reason I’m sat in the William Cobbett pub, not alone, but accompanied by people. In fact, not just people, but friends of mine. They are buying me drinks and asking how I am they sacrificed their evening to spend it with me, lonely old me. It is Wednesday, and someone I loved died today, two facts I can do nothing to change, but to vacate the room entirely, for my body to be a lifeless capsule with no emotion inside, that is something I can change. Depression has never been a problem I have had to endure, within my brilliantly, beautiful, complex brain of mine, and maybe with some help, I’ll never have to.
A few months ago I hit rock bottom with my depression. I was used to having depression “episodes” every few months but my anxiety meant that I wasn’t getting out of bed most days. Although I would never give death the sweet satisfaction of my suicide, I did consider it a great deal. I was really stuck, and the way I always approach things is to deal with them alone; I never tell my family or friends. I was totally alone, but after finally building up some courage I told a friend who I knew would be there for me, who was kind and loyal and wouldn’t judge me. So I texted Hope.
Hope is my best friend, she has helped me in every situation, good or bad, and she has taught me so much and I will be forever thankful for her. She really does live up to her name. In fact 10 months ago I gave Hope a lift home from college, we had known each other for about 2 days and I drove to the other side of Romford. Being from Upminster of course I got lost and it took me two hours to get home.
She talked me through my situation. She was a good listener. She told me about God and how he had helped her. She sent me some links to Christian music and told me that she would always be there for me. Her final recommendation was that I come to church with her.
When something significant happens in my life I have a tendency of writing it down. The habit has helped me with my college work, its helped me to cope better emotionally with situations and I wrote this the morning after giving my life to Jesus at Big Church Day Out, and it is called “That Feeling”:
I was standing there, with Jack and Hope either side of me, I was happy. I was happy with the people around me and happy to be able to drink in the music and soak up the light. When the bright lights of the stage shone out to the crowd I felt like I was absorbing the spirit, bathing in it. I was happy.
When asked if I was giving myself to Jesus, it was the fastest decision I have ever made. I saw the opportunity and took it as fast as I could. I completely and entirely threw myself at the Lord. I couldn’t have raised my hand fast enough. My eyes were closed and it was like I was being blessed with a power. A power I have refused so many times, that I had distanced myself from for so many years. I had just unlocked the door to my heart and God burst in.
I felt both warm and cold, I was so weak yet felt so strong. I was empowered, I could move mountains, cross oceans, every breath I took was brand new. Every matter within my being was alive for the first time. There was a light going through me, travelling around my body reaching every inch.
Everything was clearer, death was never the end.
To call it being re-born is right. I feel like I’ve been given a new life. Another chance, and I was a completely new person.
I made a prayer when we were in worship; that I give myself to Him, my whole self, I will follow Him forever and I never want this feeling to end. I have been searching for my place in this world for so long and I have finally found it. I belong here, with Him. And if I thought I was happy before? That was just the beginning.
God Closes a Door
This is my college animation for my final exam. It covers the topic of my depression and I feel as though it is some of my favourite work. This was my first real experience with animation and as you can see several different techniques in animation have been used. Later I learned how to use these techniques properly and create animation work of a higher standard, thanks to my university. You can find more of my animation on my youtube channel.
Not many people would say their keys would mean much to them. Your keys, copied for the third time at the run-down key cutting shop round the corner. Your keys are used to open doors, lockers, suitcases or cars.
Your car key, normally the biggest of your keys, the one you grab when you’re frantically looking for your keys in the dark and your handbag has a thousand and one things in it, including “spare” tissues, sweet rappers and loose change that has been rattling round to the rhythm you’ve been walking home from work to. The suitcase key is rarely used, put on your key-ring once to fill the space but used once every two years for the ridiculous white coloured case that has an old lock that doesn’t even work anymore. The old locker door key from your year 10 class form room; bottom row, right at the end next to the bin and every time you go to get a heavy maths book out you get kicked in the bum by a “friend”, you fall on the floor dropping the book and losing your shoe in the bin. Your house key, one of the last things you find if you have a huge bag and you’re standing in the pissing rain trying to get into your house. You try the doorbell only to realise that no one is in. By then tipping the entire contents of your bag onto the floor in rage you realise your house key is in the zip pocket at the front of your bag, easy for you to find when you get home. However, what many people don’t have on their keys is a small, no longer than 5 millimeter, silver key with a love-heart handle. This key is so small it needs its own little key-ring. Yes, on my keys I have the key to my heart.
Most people would say that their keys aren’t the most important thing in their life but as the expression goes; when one door closes another opens.
One day in year 10 I was on the floor having just been pushed over and losing a shoe in the bin, I close my locker and take my 1 ton maths book home. Later in the evening I am playing cube field as no one want to talk to me out of the 4 online friends on msn, Facebook isn’t working and you have nothing better to do but game. I then hear a vibration noise coming from my blazer, naturally I go and answer and answer a very surprising phone call from Matt. This is very rare but from him being a polite boy he’s calling to tell you; “You left your keys in school! I have ‘em love!”. I then wonder how you got into the house and you thank Matt slightly startled that he just called you and you get little butterflies in your tummy. I remember that Sarah let me in with a headache after I rang the doorbell.
The next day you see Matt in the classroom alone with my keys around his finger. He says calmly and softly, “I’m sorry I haven’t been talking to you much recently, I’ve had a lot on my mind”. Still holding the keys he moves closer, as do you, at this point you can hear each other breathe. He, still holding the keys, asks what the tiny silver key is for whilst he takes another step closer. I place my slightly sweaty hand in his to take the keys and whisper, “it’s the key to my heart, you had it the whole time.” You both smile, and this is the end of the fairy tale.