The Bite Of The Big Black Dog

This is a long time between blogs. When you aim to do one weekly or sometimes, maybe, a fortnight later and then, suddenly, six weeks goes past. A big part of that is I wanted the next one to be a lot cheerier than the last. Let’s be honest, if they were all like that it would get very depressing. I’d stop following me and I have to live with me. Problem was though, I couldn’t find a happier place.

Several years ago I was diagnosed with depression. Hey, who hasn’t these days? Although as one loving family member pointed out to me, “You don’t know what depression is! I get real depression!” So there I was, cured! Awesome hey? Sadly it doesn’t just disappear because someone else has (or believes to have) a worse case of it. Hey, your leg can’t be broken because mines broken twice. Hmmm, seems legit.

Depression, sometimes referred to as the Black Dog, attacks different people in different ways. Sometimes the same people in different ways. Sometimes it nibbles. Sometimes it gnaws. Sometimes it bites. The size of the teeth can vary. Sometimes big teeth bite hard and the black dog gets lockjaw. A friend of mine from high school days recently dealt with the later.

Michael started at my high school at the start of year 8 and we almost immediately became mates. Some even asked us if we were brothers. No, not everyone with freckles are related. He even hung around when I kept wanting to go and talk to the girl I had a big crush on. She of course fell for Michael. It wasn’t going to happen for me so I helped make it happen for them. For a few months they were quite happy then parted on good terms. Quite admirable for young, teenage love. A year or two later I tried my luck again but she simply was never interested. Then she dyed her hair pink and got expelled. Oh well.

Years go by, school finishes, people move on. Michael joined the army. I worked in a paint shop. Then more than a decade later, about 300km (186 miles) from the high school, I’m busy spruiking out the front of a jewellery shop. Yes, I was one of those annoying people with a microphone telling everyone about the bargains in the shop. Then I see a familiar face walking through the shops. “Hey Perksy!” I announce into the microphone. He looks around to see who called him and recognised me straight away. I took a 3 or 4 minute break as we had a quick catch up on what we were doing these days, etc. Then we continued what we were doing.

A few more years, a school reunion. I went back to the home town that I had long since run away from. Michael had moved back there. We had a great time. Michael kept telling my wife how I was the smartest guy he knew and he used to cheat off my tests all the time, lol. We maintained some contact on Facebook with the occasional mention of a proper catch up. Then a mutual friend (also from school) and I started talking about the 3 of us having a proper catch up when my whole world was turned upside down with my daughter’s cancer diagnosis. The catch up wasn’t even on my mind for over 6 months.

Nearly a year later the catch up was seeming possible again as Hayley is getting better. The news came through that Michael had gone missing. The black dog had bitten in properly and Michael must have felt there was nothing more he could do. He was found nearly 3 weeks later. He had taken his own life.

I currently live closer to my old home town than I have for many years. Only an hour and a half drive away and yet I still haven’t been back. I haven’t been able to get away from the gnawing at my ankles to pay my respects. I haven’t been able to join other school friends who have travelled interstate to celebrate and remember Michael’s life. I want to get there. I want see these people. I want to talk about Michael. I want to raise a glass of beer in the air and announce “To Perksy!”

I will. I will get there.

Please everyone. Keep this number close, National Suicide Prevention 13 11 14. Keep yourselves safe. If you are hurting please talk to someone. If you think someone is hurting, please talk to them.

Love to all and I promise the next few blogs will be happier. I’m going to review some Comedy Festival shows so it should be more fun.

In loving memory of

Michael Perks

1971-2017

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