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Another sleepless night, restless, feeling agitated and shitty. His body ached, was it from not resting properly or was it training too much, or this non stop thinking. He knew he couldn't continue this way, things were getting him down. It was like he had brain fog,  everything was cloudy, difficult to make sense of things, and throughout the day he often found he would start something only to be distracted by something on social media, or a game on his phone. 

His business was as close to bankruptcy as could be, for the past 6 month's he hadn't made any sales, and was living off the money he made from his rental properties, and he knew that wasn't sustainable for where he was currently living. This was new territory for him. 

Then, he would get a text from her, Stella. At first there was a semblance of normality in her message, standard things like 'how are you?, thinking of you today'. Then followed by 'I think we need to have a chat later, what do you think?'. 'I really would like to sort this out between us'.

He reflected up on the last message. In his own mind the 'between us' bit included talking about the constant arguing, with her often pointing the finger at his list of bad deeds over how he made her feel. Then, how she loved him and wanted to be there for him but couldn't because he often pushed her away.  That latter part was true, fuckin too right he pushed her away. 

Since meeting Stella he knew something wasn't quite right with her, he'd seen the 'alarm bell's' on day one. The reluctance from her to talk, even about general stuff. Then later when he got her to open up the conversations about her ex fiance, the domestic abuse she'd suffered from her son's father, the court injunctions, the fear.  Then the lengthy text messages telling him how much she thought of him and how 'connected' they were. Hindsight is a great thing, he thought, he didn't recognise the red flag 'I am a victim'.  

He just sat there and shook his head in complete dejection of himself.  Yet he also knew he had to look at his intentions. On meeting her and seeing just how attractive and sexy she was, he just had this cave-man-like desire to get her into bed. Another notch on his bedpost, and what a notch it would be.

Prior to meeting her he was aware she was an underwear model for some lingerie companies, and that she regularly entered body fit competitions, often winning or coming second. Her body was sculpted from years of hard and dedicated training, and she had a classical Latino look, olive skin, jet black hair, and full lips, with a suggestive look to go with it. She really oozed sex appeal,  coming at a huge price, his sanity. 

The constant nagging, as well as the very strange sensation of having his energy drained whenever she was around him. It really got him down and couldn't quite make sense of how this happened, time and time again. He found she just went on and on at him, and often pointed the finger at the things he did wrong.  

 Rather than argue with her he found it easy just to remain quiet, and submit. Yet deep down he knew he wasn't being true to his character. Yet he had somehow turned a corner and increasingly felt dejected and isolated. In a way it was a relief they didn't live in the same city, otherwise he wouldn't have probably gone mad by now. Coupled with his business going down hill, his training going out the window, things were bad.

This went on for months and months and lately he had been waking up in the middle of the night, during the twilight hours, wired. His brain was going over time and he had resorted to writing stuff out on a notepad expressing how he felt, this helped, but it also showed to James that he was as close to rock bottom as possible. 

Whenever he looked in the mirror lately he didn't recognise the person looking back at him, wasn't proud of the person who he used to be. This stranger looking back at him looked tired and worn, hollow. Despite the latest trend in the city of men having beards, James felt his was uncut, wild, and dull. This made him further deflated.  It was like the self belief he had in leaps and bounds had disappeared, vanished and deserted him. Physically and mentally eroded was what sprung to his mind, slowing ever so slowly he was deteriorating and he felt helpless to stop it. 

He felt like waking his two housemates up, two builders who also came from his city, and now renting a room for him whilst living in London. The irony was both sniffed cocaine and drank beer after work every night, borderline addicts. Yet James felt in a much worse state than the pair of them. One was an ex-divorcee, lost because his wife ran off with her boss, the other, a father of three who got caught by his long term girlfriend chatting to transexual's online. It couldn't be made up, he thought. 

Propped up seated against the bare white wall James felt like he was locked in a prison cell, not only in his mind, but also in this room. As typical of the renting situation in London, the landlord made use of every single spare space and created the minimum sized double room.   A bed, a small wardrobe, some makeshift shelves and just enough space to side walk down the side of the bed.  Added to that his large frame. A compact and muscular 6ft frame, he regularly kept fit and was proud of his physique despite being 44, he could have passed for a man 10 years younger. It felt like the room was slowly crushing into him. It was a very weird sensation. 

Then he began to cry, at first a few sniffles, then a huge downpour. He quickly covered one of the worn looking pillows over his face, to block out the cries he was now making. It was a weird sensation to have self-awareness whilst in the depths of despair. In the midst of all this he caught the aroma of the pillow case and it stunk, it smelt dirty, old and of sweat. It dawned upon him that he hadn't washed any bed clothes for around 5 weeks. 'Fuck me' he quietly said to himself, I've really got to get out of here. 

He looked at the time on his phone at 2.45am, it was so late, and his body and mind long desired for some much needed rest. Yet he knew if he stayed put he would probably crack up. Such was the pressure he felt at staying in the tiny room. 

With a large reluctant sigh he pulled his legs sideways and placed his feet on the matted blue carpet. His shoulders felt heavy and his legs really ached when he stood up. He grabbed his black joggers and quickly slid his large legs through, getting trapped at the bottom as the opening seam couldn't stretch wide enough to allow his large boned calves through.

Despite being an easy thing to usually do, James felt it a monumental task just to gather enough energy to force both his feet through the gaps at the bottom of his joggers. 'Fuck' he thought, I must be really tired.  

Getting outside James relished the air he was now breathing, from being inside the constricted confines of his bedroom. It was late September and the summer was coming towards the end in London so the air was cool, despite the density of being in the city. He walked towards 'Little Wormwood Scrubs park', which was only around the corner.  Only he didn't walk, he shuffled, hobbled, and it appeared he had the posture of a man twice his age, such was the hunch on his frame. 

He didn't know how long it took him to get to the park, he didn't care.  The respect he once had for himself, whilst in public, regardless of the time, was gone.

Sat on the bench with an array of swings, slides, and fitness equipment before James felt like he completely lost. He had nothing more to give, and couldn't muster enough energy to get back to normal. He just didn't care anymore. There really is no point, he muttered and he began to emotionally switch off. 

Slowly, ever so slowly. The vision of the park before him began to move away. It was like he had a pair of binoculars stuck to his eyes, only they weren't in the magnifying range, but the opposite, the view was distant. It was like he was trapped on a seat, and he was being pulled back into a dark recess of his mind. The scene of the park ahead of him was slowly going off into the distance and the vision that used to be there was black, just dark black, lifeless and void of any life, at all. 

 He, instinctively, knew he mind was shutting down the pain he had been experiencing these past agonizing month's, he'd seen this before, and knew what damage this did if he allowed himself to truly 'Go'. Yet another part of him was just saying 'Just switch off and shut down'.

As the park slowly, ever so slowly continued to go off into the bleak horizon James felt a sensation he hadn't felt before. A feeling that parts of himself would well and truly disappear from this life and what was left would be a shell. He knew if he continued to sit there a part of him would die. Yet it felt comforting, no more pain, no more anguish, and no more hellish despair. 

Then the tears came streaming down his face again, really like a downpour. It was like he was locked in an internal battle with himself. A part of him thought 'Fuck it, just go'. Whilst the old part of him didn't like where he was headed, knew that if he stayed on that bench he wouldn't never, ever be the same person again.

Despite his troubles, despite the emotional rollercoaster ride he'd had with Stella, and the events in his life, he still licked this person called 'James', he had a good life and knew he could turn things around if he just managed to get off the bench before his mind well and truly shut down. 

As the last vestiges of his mind were about to go blank he growled and forced himself to stand up. His vision was a rainy mix of tears and emotional torment, but at least he was back on his feet, off that bench, away from the madness.

Again he shuffled towards home, only with a little more purpose. Relieved his vision had come back to him he looked around the street, and still no one was around. He had mustered enough self awareness to look at his phone and it now said 4.55am, fuck where did the time go. 

As he got back to his flat one or two cars now were on the street, life in London was beginning to erupt into another frenetic day. Walking into his flat James burst into tears again, rather than walk into the prison that was his room he walked into his flat mates room.

Headed towards the hospital in the passenger seat of his car, the irony wasn't lost on James that his alcoholic addicted friend was looking after him. He'd arrived at the sheer bottom of the helter skelter. He knew there was now only two choices ahead of him; suicide or getting help.

 Bio:  A reflection of modern times, one man's slide into mental despair. A story describing the process. 



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