Demons

A film by Tippers and Jody Neil Ruth

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The film

In late 2012, Jody Ruth was stood on the edge of a cliff, looking to end his life. Luckily, he came back, but many others don’t. Jody found solace in writing, and wrote a hard-hitting blog called ‘Demons’ about what took him to the edge of the cliff, and what happened whilst he was there.

This film follows Jody a year on from this blog, in an attempt to understand what it takes to end up on a cliff edge, but more so, what it takes to come home safe. The post that inspired the film and the recent follow up, appear below.

Open on YouTube.com

Demons

By Jody Neil Ruth - February 16, 2013

I make no apologies now for what I am about to tell you.

This is not one of my normal blogs filled with jokes, idiocy, and me being a tool. You may have as hard a time reading it as I did writing it…

I worked within the mental health world for 7 years, between the ages of 20 to 27. I enjoyed the job – especially in the local psychiatric ward – and I met some remarkable, troubled people, and watched as they disappeared in a haze of medication as their demons dragged them down…

I felt sorry for those people.

In fact, I saw friends of mine enter the system and become faceless and mindless drones, pumped full of drugs… I pitied them, and I took solace in the fact that I was mentally strong enough to never be as weak as these people… and at the end of my shift I went home and forgot all about them.

I knew that I was stronger-willed than most, and would never succumb to a condition of the mind…

Which is why it nearly destroyed me when my own demons sunk their claws into me and dragged me to a cliff edge.

Literally.

It’s amazing to think that something as innocuous as an innocent phone call at 10.30am on a Tuesday morning can bring your world to a complete halt. It’s even more amazing to think that the person who called me has absolutely NO idea what it is they said… and what it did to me. I have never told them and I never will.

Don’t ever ask me about that phone call.

Just understand that it almost killed me.

It’s bizarre standing on a pavement when you feel your heart stop and everything around you slows to a crawl as the breath seems to be squeezed from your lungs. I was so aware of the moment that I can remember the faces of the people who walked past, and the cars and the bus that seemed to drive by in slow motion. I can even tell you what clothes I was wearing, and what I was holding in my left hand.

A bunch of flowers.

I went home, but I could feel the claws of some beast starting to pull at my mind. I tried to ignore it...

I tried to write…

I tried to eat…

I had nothing… nothing in me at all.

I sat in my flat for four days solid, drinking and getting high… or low. Whichever. It would provide me with relief for a short (oh so short) period of time… but then I would have to answer to the demons that came screaming inside my skull the next day.

That is, if my demons let me sleep.

Irony of ironies, I became a zombie (I’m writing a zombie book, have a zombie hand tattoo, and was in a zombie film) and ghosted in and out of each day, ignoring life. It – and I – didn’t seem to be able to coexist.

I was diagnosed with depression a week later, and when your family doctor of thirty years says to you; “I’m going to prescribe you some medication and you need to take it… because I don’t think you’ll make it without them…”

Well… that shit is just hard to hear.

But anything was better than what I was facing, and that was being alone in my flat day after fucking day, with no TV or music playing, sitting in my chair and staring at the walls or lying on my bed and fighting demons that clawed and scratched and bit and dragged me down into a place so dark… so bottomless… so dead… I shut my friends out. My good friends… the ones who knew that there was something wrong with me, and yet I was too stubborn and pig-headed to see that I was physically and mentally dying before people’s very eyes. I couldn’t think straight, I wasn’t paying my bills, and I lost two stone…

“Hey, you look like you’ve lost weight.”
“Hey, you’ve lost a lot of weight.”
“Hey, are you ok?”
“Hey, are you on drugs?”
“Hey… are you dying?”

In the end it’s easier to put your phone on silent and ignore the world. I shut everyone out. Everyone… The only things I had left were my demons.

And then one black day they won.

CulverThere’s a cliff here on the island where many people have driven or jumped over the edge. I won’t name names, because this isn’t their story. But there was one young man who drove off of the edge almost a month to the day before I found myself standing on the brink.

And it was him that I needed to speak to.

So we talked.

He asked me what I was doing there and I gave him a wry smile. He nodded, sat by his wreaths and flowers, casually throwing stones over the cliff before us. I’d heard the stories going around about why he had driven his van over the edge and asked if they were true, but he didn’t answer. He just looked at me and raised an eyebrow.

In the end I asked him what could have been so awful that a man only twenty years of age could kill himself.

“The same things that brought you here,” he said. “Our demons.”

And then I could see them.

They were all around him, tearing at his clothes, scratching his face and his skin, biting him with their fangs.

That’s when my demons exploded from within.

My body became a lead-weight as they poured out, accompanied by the sensation of breathlessness that I had experienced when I took that phone call days before. And so I cried. I cried like a fucking baby. I stood there and couldn’t see the rocks below through the tears, and I have no idea how long I was there, but I missed around 30 phone calls that I failed to hear over the wind. Word was getting around that I was in a bad, bad place. crow

And now my demons were leading me towards the edge… And I was following them.

It’s a very hollow feeling to stare down into an abyss and feel no fear… no trepidation of what I was about to happen. The sea smashed on the rocks as hard as I knew that my body would, and I didn’t care if my carcass would be dragged out into sea and never recovered.

I was beyond caring.

I remember closing my eyes and feeling the wind around me, pulling me, tugging at me like those demons’ claws.

I remember stepping closer and closer to the edge until the top of chalk cliff touched the toes of my shoes…

And then I heard a voice…

“Son,” it said. “Son…”

I turned around and there was an old man walking his dog. He was mere feet away from me, but the look in his eyes when he saw my face hit me harder than anyone or anything ever has. I looked into his face and I saw terror. Absolute terror.

He just stood there, one hand reaching out towards me, repeating the word ‘son’ again and again. I stared at him, tears streaming down my face, just shaking my head at him.

“Son…” he said. For some reason I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket for the first time in who knew how long, and I looked at it. Among all of the messages, one caught my attention. “Think of your son.”

That word again… ‘son’.

And then I my lungs filled with air, goosebumps covered me and I felt how fucking cold the wind was… and I felt alive.

I looked down at the water and rocks 300 foot below, and I turned away and ran. I still feel bad that I never said a word to the old man, but I hope he realises what he did for me that day… in that moment.

I got back in my car and sat there and cried again… but this time in anger… anger at the way I’d almost given in to the beasts within me.

They had so very nearly won.

I sat there and cried myself to sleep until someone I loved turned up and hit me. And shouted at me. And held me.

Since that short time ago I have never doubted those with mental health issues. I pay a LOT more attention when I find my friends are down.

There’s a great quote from Stephen Fry who says that all someone with depression needs is someone to talk to. And he was right. I just didn’t know that it was also what I needed at the time.

Because I’ve always been a joker.

A fucking clown.

If you know me this whole blog must come as a bit of a shock to you, especially when you see all the shit that clutters up my Twitter and Facebook feeds. It’s always comedy… it’s always jokes.

But being a clown is a great way of hiding from your demons… keeping them at bay with your clown make-up on.

And I plan to keep my make-up on for as long as I can…

Because I know that if I take it off…

Well…

That’s when your demons find you.

Originally posted here.

Demons: Dark Love

By Jody Neil Ruth - January 6th, 2014

It is now just over a year since I almost jumped off a cliff.

Did things improve for me afterwards?

No.

They did not.

Car wreckThe smash on the windscreen is where my head impacted the glass. It hurt. A lot. I even had to ask the surgeon to stop while I cried in pain as he scraped the pieces from my skull.

But let me go back; before the crash, and after the cliff.

After 'Demons' my mental state deteriorated. I was unable to function like any normal person, and I'd start every day sat on my bed crying. I would then get dressed and go to my job as a taxi driver, where my sunglasses would mask the tears that fell constantly. It reached a stage where my body would become accustomed to my condition and would no longer shake with the sobs, and I'd be able to talk to my customers normally as I cried behind my lens. I don't think any of them had any idea about the mess they were sat behind.

Glass in scalpAfter work, I'd find solace with my son, and then once I had dropped him back to his mother's I'd go home and fall back on vodka and drugs - unwilling and unable to sit in on my own, but too desolate to want to leave my flat and interact with others.

There are several reasons that caused my predicament; drug-use, money troubles, self-loathing, and they all fed upon one another, growing in strength until I could no longer look in the mirror without scaring myself.

But there was one main reason that my whole world was crumbling...

Love.

It's no secret that I was having an affair with a married woman, but I won't name any names, and I won't divulge any details, except to say that it's a lot more complicated than it sounds.

Isn't it always?

I loved her with every fibre of my being and my soul. I loved her with a power I was never aware I had within me. She became my whole life, and we dreamed of the day we could be together and stop hiding our love. Our relationship was intense from the start.

But the pressure told.

We parted after a year, and both my counselor and my doctor looked at the mess that I had become, and both agreed that I was mourning the girl as if she had died. It felt that way, too.

I still see her now. It is a small island we live on after all.

To not touch her face or tell her how I feel when I see her is a strange - and unpleasant - experience. To walk past her as we flash each other a weak smile, and yet see that look from her crushes me every time. To be so far removed from someone who knows you like no other and has seen your very soul is devastating.

It's only within the last couple of weeks that I've stopped crying after every time I see her.

She was - unfairly - blamed for my car crash and my mental demise. Obviously, the situation that we had created did not help me at all, but to lay the blame at her feet is wrong.

She was not there the night I crashed, although I had seen her and tried to call her after I clipped the bridge and sent my car into some trees, but being chased by the police meant I had to turn my phone off as she was trying to contact me. I passed out around a friends, and woke up later that day surrounded by her and my family as they all tried to staunch the flow of blood from my head.

Eventually I had to admit defeat and go to hospital, where the police were waiting.

They told me that I had to go to the station for interviewing the next day. I agreed, but had not figured on slipping into concussion and shock as soon as I got home, and then to be awoken by the police as they came through my door several hours later, wondering why I had not shown at the time they had instructed.

I was put in a cell, and had a police doctor visit me as I was not allowed to administer my own medication. Within 30 seconds of talking to me he advised the police to release me and ordered me to go back to hospital and have x-rays of my skull as it could be fractured, and that I had a severe concussion.

I walked out of the police station, skipped hospital, went home, and took a lot of Valium.

I missed my first court date because I could not handle the pressure, and I was eating those tiny little pills like sweets. They coated me in such a delicious haze that it took a lot of people to pull me 'out of the Vallies' and make me realise that I was dying before everyone's eyes...

But not before things got even worse.

Yeah. Worse.

Valium is a bizarre thing. It renders you uncaring, yet take too much and it can make you explode violently. It is with zero exaggeration that I write about having NO memory of two weeks of my life; such was the effect of the drugs. In fact, it was not until weeks later that I realised people were talking about a period of my life that I had no recollection of. I thought everyone was in on some big joke over me.

These are some of the facts:

  • I was found sitting in the middle of a road, eating sweets off the tarmac.
  • I unsuccessfully tried to admit myself to the psychiatric hospital.
  • I successfully admitted myself into hospital... where my mum sat and endured several hours with me. No one will tell me what I was talking about to her.
  • I was walking into things - not 'bumping into the corner of a coffee table', but full-on staggering into walls, closed doors, etc.
  • I carried on with drink and drugs.
  • My drug counselor saw the medical report from my hospital 'visit' and asked how I was not dead.
  • I screamed and yelled and threatened my friends... good friends who had stuck by me but were now feeling the strain of my unpredictable nature.
  • I turned on those I loved.
  • I took to carrying a baseball bat with me.
  • I tried to take my youngest boy from his mother's, but she - rightly - told me I was in no fit state to take care of myself let alone him.

And the worst thing about all of the above is that I do not recall one piece of it. People still tell me now what was happening back then, and it is a very surreal - and scary - thing to hear about yourself and your actions with no knowledge of them.

It is nothing like a drunken black-out where you start to form vague memories of previous events later the next day.

I simply don't remember any of it.

I was dive-bombing fast, and taking others with me. There had to be a breaking point.

And there was. The night before my second court date.

It was late, and I was in bed when my boss-and-friend of 20 years walked straight into my flat and said he needed to talk to me.

I sat on the sofa in my pj trousers, touching the wounds on my head that were starting to scar.

"Right," he said. "Depending on your answer, I will either help you, or walk out of this door and leave you to it."

"Ok..." I said.

"Have you got a drug problem?"

"Yeah," I nodded.

"How big?"

"Pretty big."

He said he would help me.

Picking me up the next morning, we drove to court. By now I was becoming more clear-headed and determined to sort things out for myself. The Valium was slowly leaving my body and my inner-drive was returning. I knew that I had to let go of the married woman, and go back to work properly to pay all my 'debts' and to keep a roof over my head. I could see clearly everything that I needed to do in order to put my life back on the right tracks.

Which is why it threw me when my solicitor told me I was going to prison.

My mind spun. I did not know what to say or do. I was not prepared for this.

I suddenly needed her by my side. My best friend, lover, soul-mate - the one person I needed and turned to whenever things went bad... and I have endured so many bad times over the last year. I could feel my re-found strength and resolve leaving my spirit.

And then she walked into the court.

The relief flushed through me, and we said little. I closed my eyes and pressed my forehead against hers. Her being there was enough to make me breathe again.

I entered the courtroom. I was charged with several driving and one drugs offense. The more they read out the more I realised how out-of-control I had become. The thoughts of worrying my family and dragging people into the path of destruction that I had created hit me, and I started to wonder if jail might be the best place for me.

But because my boss was there in a show of support, and my solicitor worked well, and maybe having her there made them think she was my partner, but the magistrates put me on a tagged-curfew (meaning I could not leave home after 8pm and before 7am), one years' probation, and told me I had to attend a 'behavioral disorder course'. They basically gave me everything they could without sending me to prison.

I walked out on a high (a natural one, for once) and knew that I had to make the most of this opportunity. I turned to her and said that I would start a drug-counseling programme, and that now was the time that we should stop hiding our relationship and move on together.

She smiled, but not the smile she had flashed me months ago that I had fallen in love with.

"It's not as simple as that," she said, and I could see tears in her eyes. "I can't be with a man who is going to end up dead or in prison..."

She was right.

I was lost for words.

My boss had some for me;

"Get in the car."

He drove me home and I asked to go to work. He said no, gave me some money, and told me to take a few days off.

I behaved. I stayed home with my son, and when I was allowed I went back to work, but only after convincing them that the Valium was no longer impairing me. Mentally I was struggling, and this was the time I mentioned at the start of this blog; the continual tears. It would be worse if I received a text or call from her, and my heart would fracture every time. Passing places that we had visited together would always trigger memories and tears, and there were a lot of places we had been, and - as a taxi driver - I would drive past them every day.

The nights were the hardest. I knew that I could not let my demons take me down with them again, but it was hard... so very, very hard to not lose yourself in drink and drugs when your mind and heart are both screaming at you to do something to ease the incredible pain...

During the very darkest times I would be stood in my front room, crying, looking at the three different methods of killing myself that I had laid out on the table in front of me, trying to figure out which one would leave me in a suitable 'condition' in case it was my mum who found my body.

Eventually the medication kicked in. It was a bizarre moment. I was at work, picking up from a house in Ashlake Copse Road. I had been having a particularly bad day psychologically, and the person I was picking up was late. It had been raining, and I was gazing at all of the trees around me, when something in my mind suddenly seemed to ease itself. I am not sure if others have had the same effect while on Lustral/Sertraline, but I felt better for the rest of the day... and beyond.

I was not 'cured' as such, and would still have rough days, but the depression and the demons that were engulfing me - that were destroying me physically and mentally - seemed to be at bay.

During the next few months I would work and clear my debts, all the while keeping busy, yet the medication would keep me awake at night. I was prescribed sleeping pills which helped.

Towards the end of the year I had made such good progress that probation told me they were signing me off for good behaviour, and my doctor said that it was time to cut my tablets in half. Things were finally looking up for me.

I would like to tell you that everything is, indeed, rosy right now...

But nothing could be further from the truth. Recently I've discovered that the medication was simply a means of quietening those demons; a method of blunting the claws that had been lacerating me from within.

I could also go into detail on the ups and many, many downs in my life of late, but I feel that I have taken enough of your time already, and the events that I have gone through would make one hell of a book rather than a blog...

Watch this space.

My current state of mind is not well, but it is not as bad as that day I was stood on the cliff. Once again I must borrow a quote from the indomitable Stephen Fry to explain my own situation better;

"I used to think it utterly normal that I suffered from “suicidal ideation” on an almost daily basis. In other words, for as long as I can remember, the thought of ending my life came to me frequently and obsessively... I haven’t considered suicide in anything other than a puzzled intellectual way since this pharmaceutical regime “kicked in”."

It's the same thing for me. Where once I would look at pretty much anything and wonder how quick I could kill myself with it, now I look back at how I felt and try and analyse it as Fry mentions.

However, I am very aware that the ease in medication has contributed to my mental demise. I now know that I would be down with my demons if it was not for the meds... and that scares the fucking shit out of me. It means that I'm not 'fixed', and that I've only been glossing over my problems.

I've become infamous for my spontaneity (hence the behavioural disorder course), and a counselor told me that I am this way because I do not care if I live or die. Sat here now, thinking hard about it, I think she was right.

But it is not the fact that I want to die - and, by writing that sentence I have just proven the counselor correct - I just do not care about the repercussions of the things I do. I have hurt people along the way… good people that wanted nothing else but to look after me. I've had ADHD, Tourette's, bipolar, and many other colourful things thrown at me in a bid to figure out what is going on inside my head.

Imagine, if you will, a pressure gauge in your skull that fills up fast like an uncontrollable boiling kettle, clouding your mind with a shrill scream and clouding your vision until you succumb to whatever the fuck the Spontaneity Demon wants you to do.

This is how I live day-to-day.

And yes, I know my demons. I know them well. They are all here with me as I write... as I think... as I breathe...

There's the Jealousy Demon, the Anger Demon, the Suicide Demon, the Addiction Demon, and the demon with brown eyes and wild hair that whispers that she loves me as she drags her claws across my broken heart...

And there are more demons.

There are a whole army of demons here with me.

But there is one demon who terrifies me. He says nothing. He just stares; black-eyes shining as he smiles that fanged-smile. He is with me every waking second, and will not succumb to the medication or any attempts to remove him from my life...

For that is the demon I know best of all...

For that demon is me.

This article (and comments) can also be found here.

Making Demons

Knowing Jody

TippersI first met Jody when I started as a DJ on a local radio station. Jody already had his own slot and showed my co-host and me the ropes. After that, it was through twitter that I grew to really like him. I knew the Jody that’s visible online, the Jody who blogs about drink and drugs, having fun, the weird and wonderful folk who frequent his taxi and the Jody who seemingly enjoyed life.

Even after Jody confided in me over a series of e-mails about his ‘affair’ (for want of a better word), I had no idea to the extent of Jody’s Demons.

I remember sitting at work one day, checking twitter, when I saw a tweet from Jody that made my heart stop. The tweet was essentially apologising, and saying goodbye. Only really knowing Jody through twitter, I tried to think of a few mutual acquaintances. The closest I had was a few people that I play ‘words with friends’ against, so I messaged them with my fears. I just wanted someone to check, make sure it wasn’t what I thought it was.

I sent Jody a couple of text messages myself. Not wanting to escalate a situation that in truth, I could have just been totally blowing out of proportion, I was cautious in what I said. When I got no responses, I panicked and sent a few texts along the lines of ‘don’t do anything stupid, think of Bam’ (Bam being Jody’s youngest son).

I had a day of genuine panic, I had no contact to Jody in the real world, but this is someone I’d really grown to like, aside from that, here was a man on the edge; more on the edge that I knew at the time.

A while later, I received a calming message from Jody telling me he was alright, and that was that.

Why I made ‘Demons’

A few months passed by before I, like many others, read and was very touched by, Jody’s blog, Demons. I hardly took a breath whilst reading, when I realised that that day, Jody had intended to take his own life. It made me very sad to think that someone had reached those levels, but also very happy to know he was alive to write the blog.

Leading up to the anniversary of ‘that day’, Jody messaged me to ask if I would go back to Culver Downs with him, in order to take some photos. He was planning to write a follow up to the blog and wanted some photos. Of course I agreed.

I’ve been to Culver Downs many times. To eat dinner at the restaurant, to take photos of the view, to star gaze and even to film a scene for a music video; never, have I seen the dark side to this beautiful and breath taking cliff, overlooking the bays of both Sandown and Bembridge.

Jody and I chatted as we stood by the memorial of a young man who had lost his life there, a month or so before Jody stood in the same spot. The more we spoke, the more I realised the importance of Jody being alive; here’s an articulate guy, who has been to the bottom of the barrel, and managed, somehow, to stay afloat. Here’s a guy who is haunted by addiction, tormented by his own desires and who’s been willing to end it all, yet he’s stood here with me, with a smile on his face.

I suggested the idea of making this film to Jody, and we both agreed it was a good opportunity to help others. My own fear, was being seen as exploiting Jody’s Demons for the purpose of a ‘story’, but I assure you this is not the case. I hope that others can realise that yes, it is a battle, but yes, there are other options and there are people to talk to; there’s a future for everyone.

Thank you to Jody for making this short film with me, it was, as always, a pleasure to be in your company and I hope we can continue that for many many years to come.

Anyone viewing that feels they are slipping, get in touch.

Tipps x

Contact

Contacting Tippers or Jody

Tippers:
facebook.com/tippers.pritchard
twitter.com/talktotippers
fidummylmmore@contenttalktoheretippers.com

Jody:
facebook.com/Solaar
twitter.com/JodyNeilRuth
soldummyaariowmore@contentgmailhere.com

Useful Links

Mind - www.mind.org.uk
Stephen Fry - www.stephenfry.com/2013/06/24/only-the-lonely
The Samaritans - www.samaritans.org
The Semicolon Project - www.facebook.com/pages/The-Semicolon-Project/659615364052145
Dealing with Depression - www.facebook.com/DealingWithDepression.UKforumpage
Agora Crisis Center (USA) - agoracares.org
Cranstoun - www.cranstoun.org

Donations

If the film or either of the posts have spoken to you in any way, please consider making a donation to any of the charities in the links section above. Your donations allow them to continue the fantastic work they do to help others. Donation of not, we'd appreciate you sharing this website and the Demons film in the hope it may reach someone who needs it.

All content ©Tim Pritchard & Jody Neil Ruth, 2017.
Internetting by Ben.