The darkest days were often dark by nature. The sky was dark, the streets only slightly lighter through the grim mist and drizzle, the house was dark in every room bar the one I was in.

My head was heavy, overwhelmed with hopelessness and despair, failure and perceived inability to do anything behind getting by from day to day.

I couldn’t stay alone every night, with only an old TV to pass the time with. I would go to the pub to talk with strangers, if it rained I might walk for miles; the wetter I’d get the worse I’d feel so I’d get even wetter. On a park bench, distant sounds of traffic, the odd dog walker, wondering if I might die tonight. Maybe go to the railway line about a mile away, see of the mood took me.

Smiling faces passing me by, laughter in the air, nice modern houses, mod cons. Just got wetter, crying salty tears, going through the church, sitting on the big gravestones. Was this where it would all end?

Back home, no hot water for years, no heating, running water from one tap in the kitchen. Go to bed, pull the old blankets over me, bring my small transistor radio under the sheet, listen to Radio Luxembourg drifting in and out, shutting out the world; maybe never wake up again. Wake in the early hours though, still dark, frosty night, ice forming on the inside of the windows, traffic swishing by in the distance. Why can’t I sleep? I can’t read because I don’t have a bedside light and the big light flickers anyway. And I must have nodded off eventually because now it’s light again.

See the doctor. ‘There’s nothing wrong with you, sort yourself out.’ Thanks for that, maybe everyone’s the same. Aren’t there some drugs? Can I talk with someone? ‘I’ve said: you’re fine, you’re young, there’s nothing wrong with you.’ So, it’s me then, nothing to see, move along, nothing to see.

Every day, almost exactly the same war, some days better than others, good days just the passing lows, bad days the hopelessly debilitating lows, force a smile. ‘How are you?’ You never tell the truth. Don’t know how I am. Doctor says I am fine. ‘Worrying about nothing, snap out of it, I have seen people with serious things wrong with them.’

Treatments along the way, take the edge of the gloom, sometimes put it on the back burner, almost out of sight. ‘You’ve got a lovely smile. Always happy.’ I’m not, you know. But I can act, maybe I should have been an actor, I kept things out of my mind’s way by keeping occupied. when I wasn’t occupied, when it was dark, when I was struggling to understand basic things, maybe I was living up, or should I say down, to my school work. Hopeless failure, no good at anything, felt like crying half the time, sometimes did.

Still happens today, huge mood swings, sometimes up, mostly down, most of the mostly only slightly down, but when it gets really down, I wish I wasn’t hear at all. Doesn’t last, that feeling, not yet anyway.