I'd been thinking about what to do to mark the event. I decided that perhaps the best thing to do is talk about it. My friends like to tease me about how I go on about it all the time. I'm pretty sure they're joking because I try not to. Believe me, I try not to. It was without any shadow of a doubt the worst time in my life. Even with their support and the support of my family, which was beyond any reproach. I died inside on 15th July 2006. To be honest, I don't think I was resuscitated until this year.
I could have easily turned this in to a post eulogising the roles that everyone around me played. It would be completely and utterly heartfelt. To Anna, who kept me conscious at the bottom of the stairs. To Pete, whose courage and friendship I can't even begin to overstate. To Kate and Ian, who kept me in the loop and subsequently invited me into their families' lives. To Femke, whose visit to me in the hospital is my most abiding memory from my time there and who has always been there for me. To Thomas, who visited me every day in the hospital. To my parents. To the Kevins and the Eds who visited me at home. To everyone who visited me, to everyone who phoned, who sent cards, who gave me presents. I hope you'll never need to find out how much I appreciated it. I hope you do know how much I love you all.
I cried all through writing that last paragraph. This is one more time than I cried during the whole experience. If I could give one piece of advice to anyone in my position it would be to admit to yourself how wretchedly miserable you are. Don't kid yourself you're "just happy to be alive". That's complete bunkum. You live and you die on happenstances, but the person you are is deep within you. It's what I did, of course, and it was even more numbing than the haze of opiates which I had to take to get through the physical pain.
I felt nothing at all until New Year, when I cried so hard I was sick all over my friend's floor - another triumph in what had been my most triumphant twelve months - just with relief that the whole retched business of 2006 had finished. But then what? 2007 was a really very dark time indeed. I considered suicide once. But I was just not willing to do that to the wonderful people who had helped me through, because not one second of it was their fault.
So, I got into a way of living where I was thinking only of doing things for everyone else. It sounds like a pretty nice thing to do, and I certainly have many treasured memories from the past five years. Life has been more intense and vital. But frequently I've felt completely dissociated from it, still and alone in the middle of everything. I'd forgotten myself.
If I were a sensible person, I'd have sought help. There's no question in my mind that I had post-traumatic stress as well as goodness knows what other issues rattling around. But, being very British about it - and being a dope - I did nothing. It wasn't until other, more current, family events took precedence last year that I was awoken from my slumber, that I started to talk to people more, to open up, to have the courage to admit to being miserable, numb and alone.
In the five years since 15th July 2006, I'd wished I'd been killed countless times but mostly, I've felt nothing at all. Nothing. Last night was, hand on heart, the first time that I'd thought to myself how glad I am that I didn't die. It was like being reborn.
It's not the end. It's probably not, to be Churchillian about things, the beginning of the end. But hopefully it will be the end of the beginning.