The Un-Glamour of Depression
“Hello,” says Susan. “I just wondered what you were doing.”
“I’m fucking on the fucking floor crying. What do you think I’m doing?”
“Hmm, how long will you be crying for?”
“Oh, a few more hours I should think.”
I explain that I can’t reach the cushion that's two feet away, because depression has completely paralysed me. She offers to leave work and get it for me but I tell her she must keep the wheels of commerce moving.
Anyway, I hate sharing depression. There’s no great utility in it.
“I shall ring you later to make sure you’re not dead,” she says before hanging up.
Depression chose me long before I was diagnosed.
Unfortunately, so did not being superfamous and rich.
If I were superfamous and rich, my depression would be much more glamorous. I’d be photographed in a very expensive, man’s shirt with a hint of no underwear underneath, sitting in a corner with artfully tousled hair, smiling underneath a headline that proclaimed,
“I’ve been to hell and back.”
By the end of the article, I’d have told you how blessed I am, and that the experience has made me mindful.
Depression - real, clinical depression – is not that glossy. Especially when it’s committed itself to you for life.
I hate clingy men, let alone a mental illness that won’t give me a break.
Living with it is like an eternal snakes and ladders game.
I’m pretty good at blocking unwanted thoughts from my head. Charity singles, Ugg boots, hipster beards, anything written by Salman Rushdie or fourth wave feminists, the words ‘national treasure’; none of these get past the velvet rope
Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the depression, which turns up unannounced, shifts my brain furniture around, leaving it piled at sharp angles before it goes off for a smoke.
I’m lucky to be high functioning, though. This means I have the ability to cry AND work.
After I finish working I go back to pure crying. If I have no work then I’m likely to be found lying on the floor for several hours.
Thoughtful friends will call to see how my furniture is set out.
Friends, like Susan.
She knows I won’t be dead when she calls back later.
Philosophically I don’t believe in it.
Plus, I have Dr. D. When I first found myself in his pink waiting room - “Fuck,” I thought. “It’s not even light blue or yellow. It’s pink. I must be in deep shit.” - he told me I needed drugs or I’d burn out completely.
“I thought you wanted me to acquire the mechanisms to deal with my life,” I say.
“I do. I want you to be able to make choices. But right now you are too depressed so I need to quell the anxiety and panic in order to have those discussions.”
“So actually I’m not free to choose, am I?” Admittedly I’d got a bit hung up on this choice thing.
“Can you choose to write prescriptions,” he demands in his soft Irish lilt?
“Then I must do that for you. Then, when the drugs begin to take effect, you will find it easier to choose to talk to me.”
His logic was impeccable. That was 27 years ago. Since then, although I’ve changed countries, he’s always been there on email.
He has one flaw though: he knows very little of the real world because he spends most of his time hearing about it from people who have very little grasp of reality.
Fortunately I am there to explain it to him.