Cruising on The Outside, Crying on The Inside

Pump, pump, pump. The blood charges through me, making sure that I get enough oxygen. To make sure that I know that something bad is about to happen again. My head hurts; once again, it has been working overtime.

I stand here, smiling, as I talk to my mates on the college playing fields. As usual, it takes every ounce of energy to stop myself from collapsing into a heap on to the floor.

“You’re a bit quiet today, Brad” says Luke.

“Yeah, cheer up, mate; we’ve got a cup final to win, captain Brad,” adds Harry.

We do! It’s true but I have another battle to win. An internal one in my mind…

 

 

  Brad!

  Brad!

  Brad!

  Then suddenly I come back to earth as the loud whistle blows. I snap out of my day dream and come back to the match. We have kicked off; the game is underway and so I now focus my mind back to this moment. Any nerves I had before the game are gone. I run, I breathe and I shout. Anything and everything to be back in the game to lead my team on.

 

 

We come to a halt in the game, there is an injury. Not me! Everyone grabs some water. I stand there in silence, then it comes back…

What’s going to happen after this game? What is going to happen in my life? I will have to get back to my everyday uphill battle.

“Brad, get here!” shouts our manager (or the gaffer as we call him).

I am thankful for the interruption of my thoughts.

“We need you to be a bit more dominant up there, it’s coming back too quickly. Link up with Dan a bit more, yeah?” the gaffer requests.

“Yeah, cool,” I reply.

“Come on wakeup, Brad. I need you to lead the lads out there,” adds the gaffer.

 

 

The game has finished. We did it, we have won: 2-0. Sheer delight spreads across the team. I feel goose bumps on my body. The voices, they have disappeared for at least the time being. I high five and hug most of the lads. I grab the cup which is presented to me, jumping up and down while the lads all pile on top of each other.

“Championees, championees, ole, ole, ole” everyone keeps singing.

I feel a smile spread across my face for once, as I stand there holding the trophy. However, after a while, it becomes more of an effort to maintain that smile than I realise. They say it takes more muscles to frown than to smile, but it doesn’t feel like it. My head then starts to drop, and my eyes feel heavy.

Brad! It won’t last!

  They are back…

 

 

I take a sip of my drink, but it really doesn’t taste that great. I look over at Harry, Luke, Gav, Foz and Bez; they all seem to be full of sheer joy and laughter. I wonder what that feeling is like.

“Come on, Captain Brad, drink up,” orders Gav.

Due to this pressure, I take another large gulp of beer, but I screw my face up after I have done so.

“It’s lucky your football ability is better than your drinking ability!” adds Foz.

I’ve been sitting there looking at the wall in front of me, for most of the night and for the first time, the attention is back on me. We’ve been sitting in Luke’s flat for the last couple of hours, as a couple of us are too young to go to any bar. Besides it’s a Tuesday night.

“…Ah it’s past 8… I better go back now lads. I told my dad that I would… help him with something…” I say in half-finished sentences.

“Booooooo,” chant the lads, throwing their arms up in the air.

“Sorry lads. I’ll catch you tomorrow,” I add.

I grab my jacket and kit bag as quickly as I can, trying to give the appearance of being in a hurry to get home for the reason I gave. In fact, I am in a hurry to get out but for another reason.

Hurry up. Let’s get out of there. You need to be alone. You belong alone.

 

 

I sit on my bed and find myself looking up at the ceiling. My dad asked how I got on a few moments ago, so I gave him a quick summary and then claimed I was too tired to say more because I just needed to sleep.

Lie after lie.

 Nothing good to look forward to.

  Your life is going nowhere.

  I’m surprised you have friends at all.

 I fall back onto the bed and hope for the best: that eventually my mind will weary of all these thoughts and I will fall asleep exhausted. My eyes feel so heavy but just won’t close. They fill like they could fill up with water but don’t. I notice how fast my heart beat is and how unbalanced my breathing is. Nothing different from my usual then…

 

 

As I stroll towards Harry and Luke, I rub my eyes and try to look up, but my head feels like it’s going to pull me down into the ground.

“There he is,” says Harry.

“Hey guys,” I mutter.

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All I get from Luke is a groan. He’s wearing shades and is propped up against the wall.

“Well… at least you ain’t hungover like this guy,” laughs Harry, as he points at Luke.

“Leave me alone,” moans Luke, who is starting to nod off.

“You’re gonna be stuffed in Maths,” claims Harry.

Maths! My homework is due today.

   I’ve not done it.

    I’m a bad person.

   I can’t do anything right.

“You ok, Brad? You seem like you’ve just seen a ghost,” claims Harry.

“Yeah…” I reply quietly.

“I think that they are going to do some kind of presentation for us later, for the cup. Buzzing!” adds Harry.

Not a presentation.

   I don’t think I can cope.

   I’ve already got too many things going on.

     “I’ve got to go,” I say to Harry.

I want to be all alone again. The simplest things are catching me off guard. I start to walk quickly away from Harry, then I break into a run before sprinting to the other side of the college. Finally, I sit down.

I fall to the ground, at the foot of a tree.  This time, my eyes don’t hold back the tears. I sniff and then the tears run down my cheeks. I breathe heavily and shake my head.

It’s not going to get better!

  You aren’t going to get better!

 

 

“Brad?” says a voice. I look up and there stands Harry.

“Woah, what’s up, mate?” he asks, crouching down and putting his hand on my shoulder.

I can’t respond. I don’t know what to say and so I just look down.

“Come on, let’s get out of here,” suggests Harry, as he helps me up to my feet.

“It’s everything, Harry, I can’t cope,” I sob, as we walk away from college grounds.

 

 

I’ve been sitting in the living room, talking to Harry and my dad for about ten minutes now. Dad is beside me with his arm around me.

“I’m so sorry, son. I thought you were so happy. Everything seems to be going for you. I never knew you felt like this,” says dad.

“Nor me, mate,” adds Harry.

“I don’t know what it is, I shouldn’t feel like this and I… don’t know why I’m complaining,” I say.

I am not crying anymore. I am opening up. I am opening up to them.

“We’re here every step of the way, Brad,” says dad, reassuring me with a big smile.

 

Important notice:

If you or anyone you know, are experiencing any of the symptoms or issues experienced in the story today, please encourage yourself or the individual to talk, and to see a professional if necessary. In lots of cases, people hide or keep their mental health challenges to themselves and it gets worse. I know from experience when faced with difficulties, that when I’ve talked to people it has always significantly improved my well-being each time.

Speak to family and friends where possible but there are some other sources available if you wish to talk to someone independently. There are many but a couple of key ones for the UK:

https://www.samaritans.org/

https://www.mind.org.uk/

 

Jonny Pardoe

 

Jonny Pardoe © April 2019

Photo by Tom Pumford on Unsplash

 

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