Break me.

The sun is setting. That dark blue hue to the sky, the omnipresence of street lights stains the road with an alternate shade of world. A disconnect between time and place. A rupture disorients and multiplies, I am cast adrift. I return to my car, the passage now foreign. This was the past. When I parked this car, when I drove the distance to this place I was a different man. Something is wrong. I have the feeling of coming unstuck. As if I’ve been cast adrift from whatever linear mooring our lives might offer. I think back, I can visualize that drive, my feet on pedals my hands on the wheel, upon witnessing the concrete reality of my car, slumped, one wheel on the pavement, one wheel off, I am aware of the existence of the seemingly inalienable fact of my transport, but the connection to these events, the sense that I, a consciously existing being, was party to them, is somehow lacking. I know for an absolute fact that I left my house at 8:27 and drove from Knaphill to Cobham in my car. I parked my car on Leigh Road. At 20:17 I walked from my shop to collect my car and begin my journey home. Perhaps two or three minutes into my walk back to that parking place I began to experience the unsettling feeling that this was not my car, this was not my life. The man who had parked that car, who had strolled into work with the best intentions of existing another day? He was dead. I now occupied his corpse. I have his body, I have his memories, I have his life.

I hope in some ways that this blog is an educational resource to some. This is my experience of disassociation. It is frequent and often times seemingly trivial, in a sense I’ve become so used to this particular symptom of my depression that I’ve chosen to ignore it in favour of the more glamorous bullshit like suicidal ideation and self harm. In this instance I was blissfully alone, and in a sense that was perfect, it can feel freeing, I’m prepared, nostalgic even for a bleak and harrowing past of emptiness and near psychotic breaks from reality. In truth, Disassociation is one of the most pernicious symptoms of mental illness because it can lead to acceptance of almost anything.

For all my bleak posturing. I’d never want anyone to experience what I have and for anyone that has I only hope that I can offer support. I feel it’s important to state, that no matter how distant you feel, how utterly disconnected, I’m here for you, if you need me. This pointless document of my misery is intended to shine a light on my own despair, to make some worth of my suffering, but also, to offer some degree of hope? When I’ve felt no hope I’ve probably struggled with that.

I believe that going forward, I should probably write about mental health in positive terms and offer some positivity. Fuck knows. I’ll try. We’re all struggling and I’ll try my best.

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mattGiven whatever turmoil has afflicted me these past few weeks, I have found myself compelled to explore the past. Occasionally, looking back I’ll discover something I can’t grasp, something I can’t remember writing. These are my words, no doubt. These are fragments of my memories, but anything more than a vague recollection is lost to me. Is the person I address someone real or imagined? I find it interesting to read this sort of thing, the writing that had occurred once I’d disconnected from any real sense or specificity. The last time this document was edited was  August 2016, but it could predate that by years. Had I posted this nearer the time I’d edit it for poetic clarity, but now, as a document of the past, I present the raw truth of some historic suffering.

I’m still waiting for the sign that all of this will be ok.

Let’s just wait here.

Just a moment longer.

It wouldn’t take me so long if you hadn’t already stopped me.

Why did you let me go?

I catch myself falling, backwards, through the upturned hallways of my house.

Gravel beneath my bare feet, digging in to the soft flesh of my soles.

I’m staring at your picture.

I could never ask for more.

We were strangers.

A dream of blades convulses through me. Red on white.

I’d give just about anything for this little lie between us. Don’t make me turn away, just hold me, allow me to fall and fabricate.

Give me hint of a past. Haven’t we shared something?

Haunting me, the prospect unbearable. Lost amongst the crowds, cooking in the heat. My skin begins to burn, smothered in oil, a paste of sand and grit, it blisters, cracks. Lost. Screaming, so many voices, so many bodies, so much horror and redundancy. A migratory animal, flocking to the sea. Instinct. No sense of purpose.

But make it purposeful, decide. Choose a destination. Kill yourself.

Fifteen years and still. I hear my name.

What was the plan?

How could I keep this up? Maybe you knew better, I should have just taken your lead and walked away. It’s just the weight.

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The trigger

mattfucked“What do you think triggered it?”

I am asked, repeatedly.

“What do you think was the cause?”

I’ve spent years asking myself the same question. Years in therapy, examining the routes and structures of my psyche, fruitlessly digging for some buried treasure that would reveal the truth I’d been looking for. Probing and questioning the hows and the whys of my very being. I write this nonsense, examining my thoughts and feelings, attempting to get some deeper grasp of what might cause this malaise. But you know what? Sometimes, those barren years of searching, that ill-fated quest that once sang with possibility and fabled discovery exists purely so that you might come to terms with the absence. Your journey was back to the start, to that initial question – Why? And your answer? Because.

Because this is the way you are. Perhaps this is the way we all are. Some are better at hiding it. Some are oblivious. But we all feel the pull. The urge to self-destruction. It’s endlessly difficult attempting to decipher the minds of those not tainted by the same poison that possesses me, but I imagine there is an inversion somewhere.

The question, “What do you think triggered it?” relies on the belief, the understanding that this is an aberrant state of mind, that this perception of the world is in some way, faulty and any slip into the aforementioned view must have been caused by some sort of traumatic event, that the veil that separates our mundane and petty lives from the existential horror that lurks beneath, the sheer unadulterated meaningless of our existence, is covering an unnatural state of being.

I find myself here, again, as depression takes hold and it feels… right? This is the way things are. Everything else is a distraction. How do you explain that? This: the endless confrontation with the barren and empty nature of my being is the constant, the immutable thread of my life. No matter what I attempt, regardless my successes or failures, I will find myself back, in this place, gazing into the nothingness that threatens at every step to consume me.

I do my best. I’m always trying. But how long can this go on? How can you explain that there is no trigger? There is no cause, no inciting moment, but instead, a slow peeling away, the gradual erosion of the person you’d imagined you’d become, the person that was over this, the person who could deal with this shit.

I’ve managed to rebuild, claw myself out of this black hole God knows how many times in the last 20 years. I’ll do it again. I’m sure of that. This time will not kill me. But I’ll be back here, soon enough, it might be months, it might be years, but this place isn’t leaving me, there is no trigger, only the slow decay of everything I’d believed myself to be. In a way, it’s freeing, I can let go. But how much do I lose each time?

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Who even am I anymore? I try, I’ve tried, to distance myself, to walk away from this, but once again, I find myself back here, occupying this persona, this voice I have created. It provides a way out, one of my final coping mechanisms before the fall.

Here, in this place, inhabiting whatever version of myself this is, I can catch myself, gather perspective, breathe, before I climb back to whatever it was I thought I was doing before this most recent descent began.

Who knows?

Maybe I wont this time, is this my last fall?

Am I done?


I’ve tried.

And yet, I keep clinging on.

I’m back here again. I have to become this person again. I can’t eat, can’t sleep. A broken razor lays discarded on my floor and blood stains the walls. In my dreams I wonder the coast and smoke.

For a moment there, when I was someone else, I’d imagined that perhaps I could put this behind me… What if these scars aren’t the sum of me? What if another life was possible? I could stop taking this medication, I could be real, could feel real again.

I was wrong.


I’m back here. If I stop taking the medication now will I die? Do I want this? To be this person again? Is this my only choice left now, to become this blood soaked avatar of a life I regret, doomed to an eternal cycle of misery and death?

Who am I fucking kidding?

I’m Matt Illman.

We can go from there.

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tvIt’s too soon.

Too soon to express, to spill my contents.

We’re not there yet. Wounds still open, I have no perspective, no real sense of what this has cost. I can only theorise, make some wild guess at what psychic toll things might take on me.

How do you feel?

I do.

Is that wrong? I feel, and in the aftermath of any upheaval, that is all I can really say.

I have been exhorted to express, to offer an opinion. I have none.

I feel.

It took me to long to come to the realisation that this feeling, this unavoidable emotional core is resistant to rationalisation. I’m tired, alone and wounded, but there is, within me, the throbbing of this emotion, one so ill-defined it cannot coalesce into thought. I remain at a distance from it, I maintain this ironic discord from my soul.

I daren’t push or probe, I know too well the path before me. My skin is thick with scars, there may be no end for my wont of self-destruction. The scars were a metaphor written in flesh and were I so inclined, I might take that notion too far. I’ve written in the past of repetition. This place is familiar. I have carved this home for myself. Is this progress though? I feel detached, removed. I can place this event in context and come to some understanding separate from the pain.

This is temporary, it will all be subsumed, explained away, rewritten. We’ll both make sense of this predicament, contextualise whatever damage I cannot face.

And of course, I’ll forget.

I’ll forget the ones left behind. The innocents dragged through this failure, through my life. I let them go, for once again, I was the fool to think that more than this was what I’m worth. Another life, and trust betrayed.

The worst?

Life goes on

It all means nothing in the end.

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Another dream.

In my dreams I am wild. Lost. Stumbling through the city at night, unhinged, unattached. There is something missing I cannot find. Torn between base desires and the knowledge that for whatever wrongs I have endured, I am still this – whatever that may be. There is some strange sense of solidity in my being that I can’t make sense of, but is welcome nonetheless.

I take her arm, we walk a while, through the streets. I resolve to put the past behind. Guilt shudders through me, but it passes, I am free. This time, I was deserted, the blame is not mine.

I am wrong. Realities collide. Drunk, crazed, my past screams into view. But she is a stranger now, contact is futile. I ask her why, where she’s been, what has happened, but she is gone. It is none of my business, beyond my concern. I am alone.

The dream ends as I sit on a traffic island, anonymous cars pass by as I smoke. In my dreams I still smoke.

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A couple argues.

I wander the town, terrified to eat, confused, lost, unhappy. Wouldn’t it be nice to be someone else? Isn’t this the reason we welcome others into our lives? So that, for a time, in their presence we might be someone else, someone enlivened, made whole by their proximity. What am I like this? A ghost? It’s all the same, don’t we just cease to exist in isolation, just drifting into void and absence?

A couple argues. From a distance a bag is kicked, then shortly collected and cradled, somewhat shamefully. She loves him, she says as much, but she needs him to come with her. She wants to leave, perhaps this display, this argument isn’t even about them, but some terror manifesting, expressed in the crudities of a couple’s spat. There is a deeper need. She wishes to escape Folkestone, escape this shit hole. Don’t we all. Movement, the traversal of space, a journey to somewhere new, a pilgrimage to whatever promised land of dreams might quench that thirst, numb the aching nothingness that threatens to consume. On my return, they can be seen playing with a dog, joyfully, abandoned. Lost as the present wipes history away, obviating the past.

The sea laps against a peculiar rock, the sun is setting. I’ll find somewhere to drink.

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I am little but eye here –  watching the human being before me.

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A harbour at sunset.

I long for repetition.

Let me retrace my steps.

The past is corrupted.

I must start again.

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Isn’t it always the case that the best of my writing occurs in some strange place between layers of reality, a nowhere hidden beneath the various lives I feign. Analysis and description of phrases uttered, words written and thoughts lost. Whatever voice I assume, posed as observer to some fatal dissolution?

“I have a document called ‘longest crawl’ on my phone. It’s been so long now that the meaning, whatever significance it once had is lost, yet I daren’t delete. Who knows? At some point it may yield insight, this mysterious phrase may lend me some as yet unforeseen vantage.

For now, I merely guess. All significance is rooted at once in both a forgotten past and a hypothetical future. In this time, the longest crawl is nought but a phrase I read each time I begin to trawl through my digital outpouring. For some future me it may be an answer, an omen or something else entirely.”

I keep trying to remember, attempting to reconstruct a moment, some point of joy, of innocence, I just want to take it in my hands, this perfect passage of unspoilt time and hold it close, pull it in to me for comfort, for warmth through the cold, unending night.

Give me a seaside, rolled trousers, chips and towel. But we’ve been this route. I spent too long excavating that furrow of past, too many hours poisoning the earth with the rot that infests my being. How can it be that not even history is spared this inexorable taint? Too long digging, I now inhabit that psychic site, claimed in the name of another. But what use are names here, on this beach of dreams?

At some indefinable point I lost sight of the man I was, the man I could be and the man, no, the boy I had been. He was washed away, replaced by this melancholic aberration, an imagined self, reconstituted from the assembled pieces I call myself, mis-assembled and remembered in reverse. I take what seems significant in my reconstructions of the past – but I am biased, deluded by my bleak conviction – give me reason to believe this was inevitable, wash away the guilt in this sea of finality, just let me believe this was meant to be.

I’m lost. Whatever markers erected to direct fade into the gaping white, and those steps that led me here, fragments of my passage, erased by the ceaseless wind. Stone piles stand, weathered, and beaten in this other world above. A brief, elucidating moment of clarity gifts me vision of a path I must take, monuments to an imagined solution, a fading glimpse of some envisioned summit. But time is my enemy here, and the evidence of my passing grows ever fainter until finally I am gone, erased from memory, cast adrift in this endless ivory sea.

I clutch, pawing desperately at its glowing surface – this artefact of another world, hoping, praying for word, waiting for the sign, those assembled figures that might offer solace, might let me believe that this ruin is not the sum.

Past and future collapse into a present corrupted by the inescapable. This is my ending, all possible moments lead away from this point. I keep returning to this time and it seems so futile to deny the totality of me.

And so I make the longest crawl. I awake in bed, fully clothed, lights still on as sun gushes through the immutable cracks in my curtains. My thoughts reach out for anything, whatever it takes to make sense of this unwelcome and unwanted state of consciousness and I settle, drifting into dreams of death. I can’t control it, can’t contain this longing for an end. Plans and prospects coalesce. Is this now? Should I take this sign, this message and finish what has already begun, or do I carry on, in the knowledge that this is the one thing I’m running from, the singular and irreconcilable certainty of my being – an inescapable end by my own hand?

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