I lean down on a despondent knee along the back end of Harrow town centre, as my girlfriend stands beside me, asking if I am okay. It is midnight on a bitterly cold Saturday evening in January. A cathartic crescendo of tears stream down my eyes, as blood streams from a fresh wound upon my upper cheek; inflicted by the base of a large brandy bottle, smashed into my blind-sided face by a drunk and high, teenage hoodie.
Ten minutes previous, a pulsating headache - which has decided to remind me all day long how in the past six months I have travelled through a consistent, daily form of personal hell - which refused to leave me alone, had finally reached its peak during a cinema viewing of "New Year's Eve"; a movie made for women, by women. On exiting the cinema, Marissa (my partner) and I argue; her, increasingly upset at my illness, and inability to reach a person now deeply lost in a mixture of confusion and frustration. Me, aggrieved at her lack of direct understanding of the sheer pain I am going through, even though I better part of me knows this is a psychological defect of my illness I struggle to ignore.
I lose my cool, shoot random expletives, then tell her to leave me alone; this is exactly what she does. A few minutes later, reality kicks in, and I feel a guilty prick. I turn a corner and catch her in the distance, as she screams back at four rambunctious teenagers, spouting racists Chinese ethical remarks, (Even though she is English born, and half Thai). As she screams the term "arse-bandits" at them, red mist strikes me. As I run up to her, I call them all a bunch of fucking moronic cunts, and threaten them. One takes offence, stands, and approaches me as he pulls out a large Brandy bottle, I initially assume could be a knife. He isn't that big, and my sheer anger overrides any forms of fear. But I withhold the desire to release my fists into this kid, for I cannot guarantee me or my girlfriend will be safe taking on four people at once; maybe I need to watch more Bruce Lee movies. The blow is the only physical account through the argument, and the gang turn 180 degrees on me once it hits home I am protecting my partner; wanting to shake my hand, in respect of such chivalry. It is a crazy turn of events, but this is early 2012, and the previous twelve months have taught me to expect the unexpected - much less find it surprising.
The tears I cry on my knee, have little to do with the attack. They fall because after nearly six months of fighting a never ending, constant internal battle which I have hidden from practically everybody but the woman who stands beside me, the extreme brutal nature of this awful fucking monster known as clinical depression, has finally, finally, broken me; I am intensely bitter, and cannot understand why nature is punishing me with such ferocity. We drive to the A and E at Northwick Park Hospital, just around the corner; I wear a scowl which suggests I have finally had enough of the human race. We explain the situation to a nurse, who tells me the world is coming to an end, then hands me a couple of codeine containing painkillers to down - which work instantly, even curing the still pounding headache; we take a seat in the waiting room. I tell Marissa she can go home, but she refuses to leave my side; I begin to see where my strength in the past few years has come from, and why my strength of the last twelve months has slowly dissipated.
A few hours pass. During this time, a mixture of Police Officers and revelling accident prone drunks stroll in and out the building. A vending machine swallows our money as it presents an empty coffee cup. A couple of teenagers offer their kind yet worthless help, as Marissa reminds me not all kids are angry and conditioned to hate; she is right, and I think of all the damage done by newspapers and sensationalist scaremongering - but refrain from mentioning it, as the doctor calls my name, They x-ray my skull and face; I quietly hope they will send me for a CAT scan, as my illness continually convinces me the irrational notion, I in fact have a brain-tumour, or potential aneurysm, knowing this will confirm the fact. He tells me there may be glass in the wound, and I will need to return in the morning. He hands me a five day course of anti-biotics, wishes me well, and sends us on our way. I feel no pain. It is 3am, frosty, and we are both starving.
We drive through 24-hour Macdonalds, then sit in her car and munch on a Big Mac meal; the situation makes it the most delicious portion of junk food I have ever eaten. Marissa drops me home and tells me she will arrive back in a few hours time. It suddenly hits me how this woman may have saved my life without even realizing it, and after seeing me at the weakest moments in my life, is still both right by my side, and on my side. I jump into bed, stick an old episode of WCW Worldwide on my netbook through YouTube, and fall asleep, as Jesse Ventura belittles an obese jobber in comedic acid-tongued fashion. Two aspects of reality change over the next four hours; I find a new respect for God, and lose all fear of human beings. I awake the next morning, tired, confused, and heading off to the hospital. The doctor tells me there is a small fracture, but no glass residue inside. He stitches me up, and we head off into Harrow Starbucks. I do not see it at the time, but on the previous day, my illness had peaked, and from this moment on, clinical depression - albeit very very slowly, will only subside. I have entered the Devil's rectum, lived to tell the story, and am finally exit bound.
Throughout the entire time period of my illness, I wondered why God had taken away everything from me? My confidence, strength, spirit, ability to think straight, smile, relax, exercise, talk to others, shit, even eat regular meals? Then I think of Marissa - my girlfriend, and it all makes sense. Throughout this entire illness, everything I lost was simply being broken down, in order to be built back again as a stronger, more humble force. And the one element in life I couldn't see, and am eternally grateful to have handed to me, is a woman right beside me who, no matter how much bullshit she has had thrown at her from my immature direction, still believes in both our relationship, and my aims of becoming the best human being I possibly can.
Sometimes, a bottle in the face can kill you. On other days, it can bring you right back to life...