Kevin Braddock has 20 years experience as a writer and editor for GQ, Esquire, The Face and The Guardian. In 2017 he published a memoir “Torchlight: A Publication About Asking For Help” which is accompanied by packs of Practice Cards. Recently his story of breakdown and recovery featured on the cover of the Observer magazine. Find out more at www.torchlightsystem.com
Kev, it’s going to be okay.
I know that’s a simple thing to say – maybe a dumb one too – but it is. It’s going to be okay. I know you can’t see that, let alone believe or feel it, but it’s going to be ok. There’s going to be more than the big blank nothingness which I can see filling your eyes, and the cruel thoughts looping through your mind, these sharp hateful commands you’re hearing, and what they’re telling you to do.
But if you get through this day and this night then every day will begin to tell you that there’s more, and that it’s going to be okay.
I can see you there: under the burning afternoon sun with the shadows of nothingness creeping over you. And I know what you’re feeling because we’re the same person, separated only by time. I’m writing to you from three years into the future you can’t, right now, believe in, or touch, see, feel or know. Your future is my present, so I’m writing this to us, to help you where you are now.
I can see you there, as I look back.
Let me say some other things you can’t know. You’re about to go on a long walk, a massive shift is coming, and there will be ups and downs, crests and corners, cul-de-sacs and returns, but gradually you’ll learn to walk this way. You’ll go in circles and they’ll slowly increase. People will keep you propped up until you can walk on your own again.
These people: they’re on the way now, I can hear the chatter and text messages. You did a brave thing, just then, asking for help.
But listen, I’m sorry to say this but there will more tears and the endless invisible pain isn’t going anywhere just yet, yet there is another side to life which will soon show itself to you. You will be shocked and surprised, Kev. Really surprised. One day – in fact on many days and in a million tiny moments – with the hints and sign you’re going to get, there will subtle and sudden changes in your systems of sensing and thinking.
In your way of life.
In you, and the meaning you make and the people you love.
You will not feel like this forever.
But first there’s today and your blank opponent, and it’s time to give in for a while, and stop fighting the shadows. Oh and yes, something else; I almost forgot. Tonight someone will send you a song. You don’t know this person very well, and you’ve never heard this song but it will say something to you, just as it still speaks to me when I hear it. So can you wait just a little longer, Kev?
Ok, they’re here now: it’s your friend, and his friend is coming soon with the car. Give him your phone, wallet and keys, just hand it all over to people strong enough to look after you, collapse into them until we can sort it all out. Let’s not look too far ahead. Just today, and maybe tomorrow.
In the end Kev, I know you can’t know this, believe it or feel it, everything I’ve written here, but I wanted to cast a spell across the years between us, and join you in your pain for a moment. You don’t have to believe any of this, but I’ll say it again anyway: it’s going to be okay.
The song? It’s called “Stay Alive”.
That’s all you have to do today: stay alive.0