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2003-02-26 - 7:35 p.m.

Visions of Annie's funeral are still occuring with concerning regularity. I don't know if Jane telling me that she has had similar thoughts made things better or worse- it comforted me to know it wasn't just me, but in a way it made my subconscious less inclined to try to rid itself of such thoughts as soon as they surfaced, because it made me more accepting of them.

I guess to a greater extent I'm imagining how I'd react. And the mere thought of something happening to Annie is enough to make me feel completely numb. I don't want to think about it, but I can't help it.

The only person remotely close to me to have died was an Aunty, or in fact a family friend that was close enough to call Aunty. She killed herself- she was angry when she stormed out of the house and hanged herself in the shed, but it was obviously not a decision she made on the spot. I was thirteen at the time and had no idea about her state of mind prior to the day, but I soon learned she had been depressed for some time and had tried to kill herself before.

She separated from her husband less than a year earlier, and I don't know if the depression and mental instability evolved from that or if she had suffered if for most of her life, these are issues that you don't hear about at that age- someone you see a handful of times a year, and obviously they would make an extra effort to be "normal" when visitors were around. Kids don't usually pick up on these things- I remember we had a family trip to Queensland in 1988 and stayed with my Mum's sister and her husband when their marriage was on the brink of disintegration and I didn't have a clue.

Anyway, that's a different family, the one I was talking about, my "Uncle" (in fact my Dad's best friend) had a new woman not long after the separation, and I later heard about an instance when, probably at the same time as suicidal thoughts were floating around in my Aunty's tortured mind, he came back to his car after a concert or some night out to find all four tyres of his car slashed. For some reason I have a vivid image in my head of my Aunty going about this sordid business, right down to the look on her face as she tried to make him feel what she was suffering. I think to me it epitomises her illness, comparing what she must have been like when she did that to the woman I knew, and despite the fact that her marriage broke down I never saw any cracks in the facade of a strong woman and a mother and someone I'd known since I was born.

Another time she locked herself in the bathroom (she was living with her two daughters at the time), possibly with pills or alcohol- I don't know but I know that the situation was serious enough to warrant one of her daughters to call the police to break in and get her.

I didn't know any of this until after she died, but one thing from that whole period of time when she died really sticks in my mind. One of my parents was saying to someone else that for the kids, or at least her eldest daughter, the final outcome was probably a relief more than anything else after all they'd gone through. I take that to mean that for however long before she died they lived under the black cloud that given her state of mind something like that could easily happen at any time. It's horrible thinking that way, horrible living that way, and when the almost inevitable happened- well it might sound awful but they no longer had to live every day with the fear of that happening.

And I guess, depending on what you believe, you could take comfort in the fact that she was no longer suffering.

I don't want to think that there is no other outcome for what Annie's tortured mind is doing to her, but I'm finding it hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Drug-wise she is as worse as she's ever been. I think the amount of drugs she did in late 2001/early 2002 erased some parts of her forever and from a purely physiological view I think it did irreversal damage. She has been depressed as long as I've known her, but I think the drugs have caused her to be severely paranoid delusional and at least mildly schizophrenic.

For a good six months last year she gave up drugs. At times that might have made her more depressed than ever, but it seemed like an overall improvement. It was never going to be easy but she was getting better. And she was always willing to accept my help, and friendship. And she never doubted my friendship, and certainly not Jane's. When she was doing so many drugs just over a year ago she virtually shut me out of her life more because she didn't want me to see her like that. Now it's so much worse. She won't believe that anyone is still there for her. She is rarely straight, I can barely see the person I was once in love with, and she doesn't want to help herself.

Jane said yesterday that Annie had an amazing support network that she wouldn't use. She doesn't believe we are her friends. She has severed all ties with Mark, who was another of her closest friends. She has a therapist who she is not completely honest with- at the end of last year he suggested she go to a clinic for her depression and she was considering it, at the time she was very honest with him, now if he knew how bad she was I think he'd be insisting upon it. She has social workers who check on her well being several times a week. Her mother doesn't know how serious things are, although she knows how deressed she was at times last year, and knows she is on medication.

My Aunty's death affected me more than I realised at the time. I didn't cry at the funeral. I was one of only a few people who went to see her open casket, and it was a very powerful thing, though I think I was more curious than sad. But for the next 10 years every time my mother lost it and stormed out of the room or house I freaked out, though I never let on. My mother has battled depression at times over the last 15 years, but never to the extent that she's ever thought about harming herself.

When Annie calls me off her head I feel helpless and terrified because I can't be there and I have no way of knowing if she's okay. What if she's in danger of overdosing? The other night she told me she was bleeding everywhere for fuck's sake- she had cut herself on something, but the way she said it and the way she is, how would I know if she'd been trying to hurt herself and calling me was her crying out for help?

It's horrible, but the way things are at the moment I can't think of an alternate outcome to the one that is foremost in mine and Jane's instincts.

I've never wanted to be wrong more in my life.

 

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