When I moved into my flat I saw it as a great opportunity to start moving on with my life. The chance to rebuild my shattered world. I had been abandoned and forced to sell the family home. Over four years later, with my life savings almost gone, the house was sold. The home that the women I loved had left me to rot in. The home that surrounded me with sad, tragic, painful memories. Constant reminders of my wife and child, constant reminders of the pain we all endured. Left, on my own, no wife, no Tristan, no friends and a family so far, far away. All I had was the relentless torment of my all-consuming madness. This mere shadow of a man, barely able to function, gathered up his remaining dignity and prepared to start again.
With great enthusiasm and positive anticipation, I moved into my new home. At first, I was oblivious to the negative environment that surrounded me. Oh, the clues were there. I should have sensed that things were not right when I had to access the adjacent property, just to move in. The communal pathway to my flat was hidden under an unsightly, overgrown mess. Undaunted, I proceeded to clear the pathway. I wanted to be a good neighbour and thought the people below me would appreciate my efforts.
How wrong I was. After clearing the pathway for a third time in a year, I finally approached the neighbours below. I asked them to kindly start living up to their responsibilities. That's when the torrent of abuse started. "You live your life...will live our's!" I was told. Then the door was slammed in my face.
So now a year into my new life, I had a closer look around. The garden (if you could call it that) below me was strewn with rubbish, broken glass, vodka bottles, dead birds and a headless rat! Enough was enough. Despite battling with an ongoing deep depression, I knew I must take action. Action to make it a better place for my son, myself and the neighbourhood in general.
I contacted my Housing Association, the local Council plus Environmental Health. I battled with bureaucracy. Month after month of inaction followed. My complaints and concerns were ignored. I was one man battling with the system and battling with my mental illness.
While the situation below continued unabated, I turned my attention to the neighbours next door. Unbelievably, they were as anti-social as the people below me. Constant fighting, constant drinking and continuous disruption to our lives. Their children were often out of school and would run wild through my garden. Their dog, which was severely mistreated, caused us great concern. I contacted the R.S.P.C.A. They did nothing to stop the cruelty! The father who had been out drink-driving, yet again, demolished the rear end of my car. This meant I had to take legal action against him because he tried to get away with it. The tension was unbearable but I continued in my fight to make this a better neighbourhood.
Then, finally there was one other set of anti-social neighbours in the adjacent building. They too fought and screamed. It was quite common to see the 'lady' of the house chasing her boyfriend down the street with a kitchen knife! Yet strangley enough, I tried to become friends with these people. I looked after their kids for free. I drove their children to school for free. I helped them out on several occasions. All I got in return was disrespect and indifference. It was time for me to take further action. I could not tolerate this deplorable situation any longer. My own self-respect became stronger as I persevered.
At last, my determination was starting to be recognised. A five year battle to make this neighbourhood a safe, peaceful place began to happen. Some of my decent neighbours finally noticed our plight. They rallied around and the authorities finally paid heed to the nightmare my son and myself had been subjected too. The neighbours next door were evicted, the neighbours in the adjacent building were rehoused. The people below did a 'runner', abandoning the property and leaving their cats to become strays.
So I had one last battle with bureaucracy. I had to prove that the property below was vacant. Well not exactly vacant. Their five stray cats would run wild through the flat below me. Trying to sleep at night, I felt like I was caught up in some 'Tom and Jerry' cartoon. Anyway, two court cases later, the people below, were at last evicted. The cats were removed.
Through this harrowing experience, I have discovered great contentment. I am now blessed with wonderful neighbours. We are a happy community that work together. To have perservered whilst challenging my mental illness inspires me onward to even brighter possibilities.
My friends, we can turn negatives into positives. We have the right to be happy and live in peace. I did all this for my son, my neighbourhood and for myself. I am most grateful to be a part of the 'mindbloggling' experience. Dare to dream and be inspired.
I thank you for your time. Warm wishes adanac67.