Tuesday 23rd January
I confessed to killing someone today. I felt relieved because I hadn’t been able to think about anything else since it happened. I went to the police station and they asked me lots of questions about when and who and how and why, and then they called a doctor. It all happened a month ago when I was driving home from work. My route takes me through some woodland and without my headlights it would have been pitch black. I saw a shadowy figure standing in the road and then I heard a bump. I drove for a short while before turning round to find the spot, but he wasn’t there. I searched the undergrowth nearby with the fading beam of my torch, but all I saw was litter thrown from cars. I went back the next day and extended my search, carefully inspecting the leaves and branches that bordered the road, but he wasn’t there and so I phoned the hospitals, listened to local radio and read every paper I could find. Nothing had been reported, so I must have killed him. I found him the next day in the missing person’s column, but then I found him again and I didn’t know which one he was.
The doctor came and called a psychiatrist and the police called my wife.
Thursday 25th January
Today the psychiatrist asked me if it had happened before and I had to confess that it had. “I hit a pedestrian once” I said “it was on a zebra crossing. I felt the bump and I saw something by the side of the road, but he was gone when I went back to look.” He asked me exactly what I could remember, but my memories weren’t clear. He asked me if I had reported it to the police and I said I had. He asked me how that made me feel, and I said sick with fear. I told him that I went back the next day, looking for blood and marks in the road, but when there were none I realised that I must have gone back to the wrong place, and so I went to every zebra crossing on my route. I still lie awake at night thinking about him, and I am filled with panic as I rouse from sleep. I think about his family and I want to say sorry for the pain I have caused.
“Could you have been mistaken?” he asked me, and I didn’t know what to say.
Friday 26th January
Today I told the psychiatrist about the other times. I told him about the panic attacks and the guilt I feel every day about the pain I have caused. I told him that I have given up driving to keep people safe and that I’m contemplating not going out at all. He asked me how often I seek reassurance and I told him that I seek it constantly. “My wife is sick of reassuring me”, I said, and so he’s going to talk to her and tell her to stop because (he says) it makes me worse.
Sunday 28th January
The psychiatrist has referred me to the hospital. Apparently I’m an urgent case because I have suicidal feelings. He really doesn’t believe that I’ve killed anyone or caused harm . I wish I could believe that.
Sunday 4th February
I’ve been told that I’m suffering from clinical depression and OCD. That’s short for obsessive compulsive disorder. I can be helped with behavioural therapy and drug treatment, but it might take a while due to the severe nature of my illness. I thought people with OCD had tidy houses, and mine is such a mess. I don’t wash my hands excessively either.
Tuesday 6th February
I lay awake last night tormented by macabre thoughts and visions. I wish I could stop going over all the events in my life where I have caused death or harm. They completely fill my mind and every time I think about them my heart starts thumping. I asked my wife if I was a bad person and she said “I’m not going to answer that”. I asked her again and she said it again.
Monday 19th February
I started cognitive behavioural therapy today, and one of the first things I’ve got to do is start driving again. I mustn’t avoid situations and if I have thoughts about having caused somebody harm I MUST NOT go back. I’m thinking about all the times I have gone back. My treatment will involve eliminating avoidance behaviours, resisting my rituals, and purposefully tackling feared consequences. I will have to record myself describing my ‘killings’ out loud, eventually in as much detail as possible with depictions of jail and the hatred that grieving relatives feel towards me. I’m going to have to listen to them again and again; I’m scared in case it makes me feel worse.
Monday 5th March
After today’s session I was given my first piece of homework. I have to rank my fears in order. I’ve been thinking about them all evening, so here are the worst.
Fear of causing a fatal accident.
Fear of seriously injuring someone.
Fear of deliberately not stopping at a zebra crossing.
Fear of something falling off my car and causing an accident.
Fear of meeting my victim’s family.
Fear of going to prison.
Fear of ruining lives.
Fear of being hated.
The therapist has told me that he will build up the exposures gradually, so at least I won’t have to do everything all at once.
Monday 12th March
I started recording my thoughts after this afternoon’s appointment. I spoke very quietly into the microphone at first, but then I managed to say them in a bold, assertive voice.
Thursday 15th March
I think I’m getting used to the tablets; I’ve been on them a month now and I’ve stopped feeling sick. The depression doesn’t feel quite as bad either. When I first listened to my voice recording it felt as if my heart was going to burst out of my chest. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve played the words back to myself over the last few days. I think it must be hundreds. Last night I found my mind wandering and I didn’t react quite as much to the descriptions. I’ve just stepped it up a level: my new recording is even more explicit ! I hope nobody finds it!
Sunday 18th March
Today was hard because I had to drive to Blackpool and back for work. At one point I heard a bump, but when I looked in my rear view mirror all I could see was a branch in the road. I wanted to go back and check, but I knew I couldn’t and it was hell.
Saturday 24th March
I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering why an OCD brain struggles with its rational and irrational parts. I think I’ve always known that I have never caused harm. I knew it when I walked into the police station, but once I’d started walking I couldn’t turn back. On that day my rational thoughts felt as if they were being suffocated and I couldn’t see through the anxiety.
Saturday 21st April
I feel more upbeat today. I know I’ve got a long way to go, but for the first time in ages I feel hopeful. I’m slowly facing my fears with the help of the therapist. Sometimes the compulsions do get the better of me, but I’ve been putting myself in situations I fear and I’ve (almost) stopped checking. I still look in the rear view mirror if I think I’ve hit someone, but I don’t turn the car round. If I hear a siren I don’t automatically think that they’re going to the scene of an accident caused by me. I have to take a deep breath when I get out of my car. I walk quickly into the house before I check the paintwork for impact damage, but the main thing is that I don’t check it! And finally, I’m not late for work any more because I don’t keep stopping the car to see if I’ve left something on the roof, which could fall off and kill someone !
Monday 11th June
We went to a party this evening and as I drove the car through the woods we laughed and we recounted the events of the evening. It was a good evening.