Saturday, May 22, 2010

Don't Give Up

“Don’t give up
'cos you have friends
Don't give up
you're not beaten yet
Don't give up
I know you can make it good…”

As Peter Gabriel’s voice came over the radio, I stood, a little wobbly, in my living room and stared. Oh my god, he thinks I’m trying to kill myself!

My day had started the previous day – Friday. Heading to work at 3 in the morning to get through another breakfast television show, after which I was scheduled to film a short documentary piece for the Saturday show. My cameraman and I headed to the theater to film B-roll and some interviews, including one with the awe-inspiring John Kani, before heading home to shower and change and get ready for the performance, after which there would be more interviews. Heading back to the studio for a long night of editing before starting my real job at 5 the next morning. By the time I reached home on Saturday, I had a migraine. A truly bad, horrible, awful, painful migraine, descending on me like some thunderous blanket.
I called my doctor. Sweet man who forgot to mention the prescription he was sending over was to be taken before the migraine strikes. No matter, it was delivered, and I figured if I was required to take one every 6 hours, then 6 pills should be more than sufficient for migraines to come.

Two hours later, my head still exploded from pain. I stumbled out and took a blinding walk to the nearest pharmacy for the pills I usually took when a headache was about to rock my world – Syndol. Someone once told me they should be prescription as they were addictive, but they worked. Always.

By around 10pm, I could feel the blood running in my veins. The weirdness of the sensation startled me. I couldn’t feel my skin, but it was as if my organs were all external and making their presence felt. I had overdosed. Somewhere in the desire to rid myself of the pain, I had done something.
I called my friend on his radio show.
“Peter. I don’t know what happened. I feel really weird.”
“OK, tell you what. I finish here at midnight. I’ll call you and see if you’re ok. If you don’t answer, I’m coming over.”
“No problem. I’m sure I’ll be fine, though.”
I turned the radio up to hear the rest of his show. And then his voice came on, “This next song is for a friend of mine, going through a rough time right now, and I just want to let you know: I’m here for you. Don’t give up. You have friends.”
And he played Peter Gabriel’s “Don’t Give up.”

What the fuck? Did he think I was trying to kill myself? Idiot man!

I walked. Back and forth, desperately wanting to lie down and sleep. Pretty damn sure if I did, I may not wake up again. So, I walked. My studio apartment not big enough for such walking, but I walked it anyway.
Past midnight. No phone call. Bloody men. Always say one thing, and then.. ooh, shiny object, and off they go.
Past 1am. No calls, but starting to feel my skin return to me, and everything that was supposed to be inside my body started to feel like they were heading back in.
2am, and finally, I knew that I could go to sleep and stay alive.

I woke Sunday morning, went down to fetch the newspaper, made myself a breakfast of toast and fried banana and went back to bed.
Monday dawned and I went into work, seeking out Peter so I could lambast him for being such a concerned friend.
I reached for a coffee cup and he looked at me, laughing, “Jeez, you’re shaking!”
“I know, you *fucktard* (I didn’t really call him that, even though I truly wanted to). I nearly died!”
He had to carry my coffee over to the table, berating me as he went.
“You were supposed to call me to tell me you were ok!”
“You were supposed to call me! If I was dead, how would I be able to call you?”
“I waited in the studio for the phone to ring!”
It was apparent that line wasn’t going anywhere, and I decided to shut up and focus on keeping my hand still long enough to sip my coffee as his friends sat by politely, trying not to stare at my shaking hands.

Back home again, I looked for an explanation. It didn’t take long. The evidence lay on the kitchen counter. In the space of around 5 hours, I had taken all six migraine pills, and around eight Syndol. Enough to kill an elephant.

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