Some Thoughts On Depression.
Sometimes you have to be told the same thing over and over again until you finally get it.
So, it’s Christmas time again. Tinsel, rain, cold, a new Call Of Duty. For some of us, an excuse to drink muld wine, eat mince pies, see people we’ve not seen for a while.
For others, and maybe a lot more than we’d like to think, long dark nights, poverty, loneliness, heat bills that can’t be paid, constant refreshing of Facebook or Twitter Interactions pages to see if anyone has been in contact. Noticing the amount of people whose profile have shifted from ‘Friend’ to ‘Add Friend.’ on the quiet. Frankly, it’s going to get really nasty for the next few months. I’ve already seen people switch from ‘Flakey’ to ‘More Than Wobbly’
In short, we are approaching the time of S.A.D. I don’t really know what to tell you beyond the fact that I’ve been fighting crippling depression for most of my life. I’ve tried to outrun it via comics, games, drugs, women, work and it’s smashed and destroyed all of those things, one way or another. I’ve watched as my switching between high energy life of party and low to the point of not being able to actually speak, let alone get out of bed or do the things I’m meant to be getting on with. I’ve perplexed people who don’t understand how I can talk a million miles a minute and come up with fifteen ways of solving a problem one day, and be barely able to speak the next. The truth is, i don’t really get it myself.
However, I’ve picked up a few tricks along the way, so if anyone is out there reading this, I’m here to pass on what little wisdom I have to offer on getting through what can be a terrible time of year.
1) Don’t make your happiness reliant on external circumstances:
I know this is easier said than done, but the amount of time I’ve spent on a low because this didn’t happen, or that person did one thing rather than another has only taught me one thing: The chances are, what other people do is probably nothing to do with you. I’ve had a metric fuckton of grief from people who had expected me to do stuff without A) Telling me what they wanted or B) Explaining that my ‘refusal’ to comply with the wishes in their head would lead to sulking, passive-aggressive tweeting and such.
Essentially, that person might call you, that book might be in stock, your favourite act might win X-Factor, The Catholic Church might start ex-communicating child molesting priests. the public might start taking an interest in your work. Sadly, they also (and Sod’s Law being what it is, More likely) might not. If your peace of mind is in any way based on variables, you’re kind of doomed. Personally, I recommend The Sedona Method. It’s a long, hard road, but really worth it.
2) AVOID THE DEPRESSING STUFF!
I realise that attempting to partake of most mainstream entertainment what the low is on won’t help anything, and Lord knows, I’ve tried switching on the telly in the vain hope of finding something that doesn’t make me feel totally alienated and insulted at the same time. With that in mind, it’s incredibly tempting to lean towards Dorothy Parker, or The Smiths or somesuch. It makes sense. Prozac Nation, Invisible Monsters or Psychocandy are going to make more sense than anything you’re going to find on PrimeTime TV, I imagine. In my experience, though, as much as you may relate to Radiohead’s work, it’s probably going to make you worse.
Honestly, as much as I love ‘Black Coffee Blues’ by Henry Rollins, I can’t read it anymore (and I reread books a lot.) because it ends up confirming everything I distrust about people. If I wasn’t full onto in The Grey before reading the book, I totally am afterwards. Same effect from Wurtzel, Palahunik, Burroughs, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Joy Division etc, upon etc. I’m not suggesting you go on a cultural diet of Barney The Dinosaur and Taylor Swift, but if you feel the blues kicking in, remember how long it takes to shift in the 1st place and try to avoid content that will encourage it. I highly recommend things and people like Richard Pryor, The Muppets, Fishbone, Mystery Science Theatre 3000, Roger Alan Wade, Bad Brains and such. They’ll either get you laughing or get you riled up enough that you can chase off the depression for a bit. Sad as it sounds, all you’re going to get is a reprieve.
3) Don’t bother explaining to people who don’t understand.
This is a truncated version of a conversation I’ve been having for about 20 years now:
‘Hey, Nevs, you okay.’
‘Ah, just the Blues, Man. Just The Blues.
‘WHAT? But you have X, Y, Z. And don’t forget your health.’
Right,. Thanks for the words of understanding…’
Nihilistic as this sounds, one of the things you learn quite quickly is that all the sparkle of those things you’ have’ will lose their shine once The Grey kicks in (And I don’t really believe in ‘having’ anything anyway. There are things and people who are in your proximity for a limited period of time, and that’s it. Might be a long time. Might not, but still, limited.) The suggestion is that one ought to be really grateful that all of these things are in your life and that you should just buck up your ideas and stop moping around, By Golly.
Yeah. It doesn’t really work like that.
A) Nobody in their right mind WANTS to be depressed. I’d go as far as to say every single major screw-up in my life could be attrbiuted to doing something to try to outrun my own depression. Every drug, every maxed credit card, every debt, every drunken night throwing up in a back street in Soho or any other strange place in the world, every cigarette, every month literally spent playing Halo or GTA, every incident of sex with someone I shouldn’t have slept with was trying to get away from The Black Dog. Eventually, that Dog bites and chews through your best efforts, it’s still shitting into your mind and all you’re left with is a trail of destruction, broken friendships, debt collectors and no end of burnt bridges. I would take breaking my arm over knowing that the chances are that I’m going to be battling depression for the rest of my life. Know why? Because an arm, or a leg or something breaks, and then it heals, and that’s it.
Depression goes away. For a bit. Then it comes back. Sometimes only for a while, Sometimes for literally years. It is shit. All happiness is tempered with the knowledge that the state is entirely temporary and at some point,. What you probably don’t need is some righteous, uninformed …person guilting you about people in Ethiopia because that’s not going to help. Why? Because…
Depression is an illness.
Depression is an illness.
Depression is an illness.
Illness, Depression a is.
Depression, Illness a is.
Is illness, A Depression.
A is Illness, Depression.
So, the next time your mate is looking a bit down and you’re going to try the ‘Tough Love’ thing with them, please ask yourself if you would say any of the following:
‘Bronchitis? But you have such wonderful friends. How could you have Bronchitis?’
‘Why are you lying there with your Flu? You have a job most people would kill for!’
‘Measles? Measles? But your girlfriend LOVES you!’
‘Do you see how totally irrelevant an illness is to your external circumstances? Does the average cough say ‘Oh, THAT guy? No, no, he works in films. His picture is on billboards. Women love him. There’s no reason why he should have a cough. We’ll skip him.’ Generally, no, Illness tends not to discriminate depending on the advantages that you might see the sufferer benefitting from. Listen, people, if you are on the receiving end of one of these lectures, you’re not obliged to justify it anymore than you are any illness .(‘Well, the mucus builds up in my nose, and then I end up sneezing and honking a lot. I’m sorry! I didn’t know only certain people were allowed to get colds!’) Try and find someone who does. In case of all else, try The Samaritans, who are here.
There are things that help with depression. Yes, they’re the usual things, eating right, getting out into the fresh air, seeing people. However, the ability to do those things is really dependent on how depressed you are. Sometimes it really is as much as you can do to put on your trousers and walk down the road to get some fags. The idea of spending time in anyone’s company is like having chisels driven into your brain while being wrapped in duvets covered in piss and barbed wire. This isn’t personal. None of it is personal. Again, nobody in their right mind wants to be depressed, and as mind-numbingly incredible as it may sound, they’re not being depressed to upset you.
It shifts when it shifts. That’s all there is to it.
( And if you’re someone who has thrown their hands in the air and abandoned someone with Depression as if you’re the one hard done by, then you’ve made the world a little bit worse, and contributed to the cycle of ‘Depression will create Repulsion.’ and fed the taboo of people not seeking help as they feel ashamed of talking about a perfectly legitimate problem. So Good Work, There. Fuckhead.)
4) Get Some Help! ASAP!
Go to your G.P. Try and plan something fun to do after the visit as there isn’t any instant answer coming. Most Anti-Depressants don’t work instantly, so don’t go in expecting your Doctor to press the F5 key and your depression to be lifted once your chat is over. Don’t be scared if they suggest you take time off from work, as Depression is, as we covered, seen as a legitimate illness and you should not be fired for it. ANY employer who attempts to dismiss you for it is opening themselves up for a pretty much open-and-shut lawsuit. (The only reason I didn’t sue my employers from a while back is that i didn’t want my ex-colleagues to lose their jobs. Well. Some of them) In the worse case scenario, you can claim money from the DLA., which comes to roughly £200 spending money a fortnight. Frankly, the fight for that will piss you off enough to not be depressed for a bit.
Also, having weeded out the people who don’t know what they’re on about, you’ll be left with people who ought to be willing to talk to you. there are also a great number of resources available on the internet to help. (Not Solve. Help. There is no one worse than offers a solution that doesn’t exist…)
Beyond that, as with everything else in this life, you’re sadly on your own. I keep going by regularly listening to Eckhart Tolie. Today, I’m in the good place. Tomorrow, it could be your turn. I hope you are.