This post is likely one of the reasons i began this blog. I was, and am still not sure how to go about writing this. Or, if i should write anything at all. However, i just read a post on Cristian Mihai‘s blog. http://cristianmihai.net/2014/10/07/over-the-edge/, and i have been inspired to at least attempt to get out what i need to.
A little over a year ago, i had seemingly had life worked out. I had a great job, paying my well into the six figure mark. I had flexible hours of work and could come and go as i pleased. I could do what i liked, when i liked.
Prior to landing this job, the previous five or so years of my life were spent travelling the world and my country enjoying myself. Sure, life had its ups and downs, but, i was at a point where i finally thought i had my life sorted out.
The day that all changed
We often hear about horror stories in the news, in books, from other people. But we never think for a moment that something terrible could happen, at any point. Well, for me, something did happen. Something that would send my life into a downward spiral of nightmares, lost friends, alcohol abuse and losing my job.
So, it was a colleagues 30th birthday. The plan was to go camping in the beautiful Northern Territory wilderness. He went out a few days before with his family, wife, two kids and his mother. Myself, along with 8 other work colleagues would join in the festivities that weekend.
The day began like you would imagine. Breakfast, a few beers, pack the cars and go. All smiles and good times, we were all going to relax and soak up some much needed time out of the city.
We arrived at the camp site, unpack and told a few stories of the day so far. Everyone in high spirits, kids running around, adults all parked in their favourite camp chairs in anticipation of a long afternoon.
Moments I will never forget
It was hot, tropical summer hot. The kind of dank, wet filth that goes along with being that close to the equator. Fuck it, i thought i would go have a swim to get the dirt off me and freshen up. I was not born in the NT, i knew no better.
My friend followed me down to the river. “Mate, you cant swim in there”… “Why, it’s hot, i need to cool off”.
He had actually talked me out of it at this point. With warnings of crocodiles and their feeding habits. Apparently at that time of the day, they are out and looking for an unsuspecting victim.
I will never know why, but i was walking back to the camp. “You coming in then?”. I turned around, he had decided to jump in. Well, that was all the encouragement i needed, off came my shirt and in i went.
We were in for no more than 20 seconds. I hear a, “Oh FUCK!’… i look up to see a wake of water heading toward us at a blinding speed. It was a crocodile.
He had already started swimming back to the bank at that point. I turned and swam for my life too. I passed him.
I got back to knee deep water and turned, he was not next to me. I looked back to see an image that will now be burned into my mind for the rest of my life. A little more than an arms reach away, there he was…. Inside the beasts mouth. It started turning him around, his hand up in air.
He looked at me, that moment lasted a year. He just looked at me, he knew it was too late. It was almost a, “go mate, im fucked already” look. Then, he went under. That was the last time i was to ever see him. Gone. Not even a ripple in the water, just, gone.
Due to the remote location, and the situation, we all had to stay at the site. After our friend was just eaten alive, perhaps by fault of mine. I will never forget my friends 4 year old daughter asking me, “where is he?, why are you so sad?”…. Man…. This was like a fucking bad dream, only it was real, very real.
News crews, police and rescue services were all there. Gunshots all night as they hunted down the killer. At one point, we all had to give statements to a detective, as there was a good chance by that stage they wouldn’t find a body…….
They eventually found him, just so you know.
I can’t tell you how i feel about it all, even now. Some of the people out there that day still blame me, and don’t talk with me. And i don’t blame them for it either. For a long time, i blamed me too.
I quit my job, i left the state, never to return. To add to this story, 3 weeks after this event, my mother was diagnosed with final stage lung cancer. She passed away 2 months after. But that is a story for another time.
I don’t know if i will ever be ok again. Not like i was before anyway. Life is different now. It has taken me a long time to come to terms with this. I have been all the way to the edge, in darker corners than i’d care to comment on.
However, life must go on. I still cry sometimes when i think about it. I still dream about it, although my partner says that is finally getting better. I guess what im trying to say is, we all get down some times. However, it is important to look forward as much as possible. If you dwell on the past for too long it will become your prison.
For anyone dealing with depression, anxiety, PTSD; you are not alone.