Second suicide attempt

     Before continuing, it’s worth fast-forwarding a few years in terms of the understanding of mental disorders. I was struggling with a condition which is nowadays known as ‘Body Dysmorphic Disorder’ although, of course, I didn’t know that at the time. According to an online encyclopaedia of questionable reliability, it shares features with OCD but involves more depression and social avoidance. It’s also responsible for especially high rates of suicide attempts.
     I’d go along with that, except to add that it’s episodic. Or maybe that’s just me. But back to 1972…


     A classmate at school was able to obtain a variety of drugs to order. I put in a request for some sleeping pills, and he supplied me with 16 Mogadon tablets. It made me feel secure to carry these around with me. It meant that self-termination was only ever a few minutes away, and this knowledge had a calming effect.
     There was, however, a deadline in my mental calendar. One of the subjects at school, ‘General Studies’ it was called, required students to stand in front of the class and give a talk on something-or-other. My turn to do this was only a few weeks away, and the prospect made me feel as if my intestines had turned to jelly.


{Vitruvian Man … New College school trip to Norway … Nana & Grandad looking after the school … suspension from Warwick School}

     I cycled for most of the morning, keeping to country lanes and minor roads. It was one of those perfect summer days that we’re inclined to remember from childhood. The sun was shining warmly upon English countryside from a blue, cloudless sky. I travelled past meadows, streams, spinneys and farmsteads, with no particular destination in mind.
     Eventually, I arrived at a village called Shustoke. It had a triangular-shaped village green with a bench at its centre, and a telephone box at one of its apexes. I laid my bicycle down on the grass, and bought a bottle of lemonade from the local shop.
     Returning to the bench, I sat and opened the packet of Mogadons. I swallowed the tablets in groups of three or four, punctuated with mouthfuls of lemonade to ease their passage down my throat.
     Then I simply sat and waited.
     I was completely calm. Relieved might be a better word. I was doing the right thing.
     I don’t know how much time elapsed, but it was enough to make me believe that the tablets hadn’t worked. Maybe they weren’t sleeping tablets after all. Perhaps my friend’s supplier had cheated him.
     Oh well!

     The next thing I knew, I was lying on a trolley in Warwick Hospital and a doctor was tickling my feet with some sort of pointed instrument.

     I was interviewed by a psychiatrist, a stern-looking man who wore a dark pinstriped suit and who steepled his fingers a lot. He asked me several questions including, perplexingly:
     “Have you ever messed about with the boys?”.
     I answered “No!” without having the faintest idea what he was talking about. I’d only ever come across that expression in ‘The Wind in the Willows’ (Ratty the water-rat liked ‘messing about’ in boats).
     He concluded that I should spend time in a psychiatric ward, and transferred me to the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham.

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