I am well aware I’ve not posted in a couple of weeks. What can I say? It’s been a tough old time and tough old times tend to affect these writer fingers of mine. Though having said I wrote a proper MEGA erotic short story earlier in the week. I’m scared it’ll make you spit your tea out though if you read it. I might set up an ‘R18 Proceed With Caution category’ or alternatively, sell it for a handsome sum or put it out on Amazon Kindle. It’s a really good one. You’ll never see a statue of Venus the same way again, that’s all I’ll say for now!
But I wrote this piece below for Blurtitout.org which is a wonderful group which supports sufferers from Depression. I came across it via Jayne who has a fantastic blog called http://beachbumbeautyblog.com/ and is a massive part of Blurt as she suffers from Depression herself. She does all this voluntarily and is up for several awards. I really admire her.
Note, this is the most open and honest I’ve EVER been about this condition in relation to myself. Everyone who knows me, knows I am a pretty positive, forward-thinking, witty, sweet soul but sometimes I am not. And this is why… but please remember, I am a fighter, I channel this streak of mine creatively where possible and I intend to be around for a very, very long time : ) I have an amazingly long life-line.
March 2012: Update: It has been slightly amended from the original post found on Blurt and I’ve added in some photos.
Depression: Give It a Kiss on the Cheek
“Hello you, I thought I would write this piece before I bottle out. I’ve never actually put pen to paper to write about my own experiences of depression. I’ve talked about it to friends, to my family and to a few partners in the past, but oddly as a writer, I’ve never formally written about it.
It could be that I’m trying to make sense of the present and I just need to open up about this part of me. I tend to find my low points are punctuated by strange highs when I feel newly unshackled and liberated. I am a bit of a yo-yo until I finally re-stabilise. Being human is a complicated thing I’ve realised. We are not very constant creatures. And we tend to be loving to others and hard on ourselves.
Anyone who meets me or knows me, sees a pretty confident, personable exterior. I am these things most of the time. I am an extrovert who treasures quiet, special moments. I am not cynical, not jaded and I am a huge believer in self-expression and creativity being positive, virtuous things. I delight in little things. I am a sensualist. I love people. I love my friends. I love touching things, feeling things and being loving. I like painting, perfume, nature, dancing at gigs, the ocean, connecting people, kissing babies, films, good food, writing and decadent bubble-baths.
But I also have a darker streak in me, born of past experiences, memories and fear that paces back and forth, that can if left unattended – grab everything I find beautiful about life and drag me down into a cesspool of gloom, darkness, self-denial, insecurity and self-criticism. It basically tells me there is no point in trying and isolates me. And the honest truth is, that writing that sentence has reduced me to tears.
And there have been times in my life where my depression has kept me prisoner under lock and key and stopped me moving forward. And I swear, I have hated it for that because more than anything I want to thrive, be productive, be happy and nothing cheeses me off than wasting time. I can watch literally months go by with little to show for them in terms of what I hoped to achieve on a personal level. It’s a vicious circle. It all gets mixed up, but the darkness is at the core of it all and the self-esteem issues it triggers when I feel vulnerable. Fear of rejection is a huge trigger. I am truly shit with that. That and uncertainties. I didn’t ask to be this sensitive. But I also think that this sensitivity is a possible flipside to being creative and imaginative.
Depression is not black and white. Some people have a chemical imbalance, there isn’t just one form of it. And it is only when you are coming out of a spell of it you realise what happened back there. Like I said, it’s that insidious eye seeing a chink in your armour and drop-kicking you down. It’s unkind. But I fight tooth and nail when this happens because I want to have a good life. And I love being I happy. I wish the world could be as good and beautiful as a Sigur Ros song. I’m a Taurean, we are stubborn, wilful creatures and we don’t like being told what to do.
I had tough times in my teens because I grew up in a very strict family where I was the blackest of sheep for a million different reasons. Out of respect for my clan I won’t go into what happened or point fingers, but suffice to say, I saw counsellors from the age of 18 onwards. Having said that, this vain peacock of a girl I fell out with when I was 22 tried to use the fact I’d seen a counsellor against me in a fight. I thought that was hilarious. I remember saying, ‘ And?’ I’ve never felt ashamed of seeing one. Ever. And neither should you if you need to. No (wo)man is an island. It’s okay to need help. So screw you missus!
My twenties were characterised by feeling like a yo yo because of a stormy start to true adulthood.
I once tried to talk to my partner about how bad I felt and got rejected, I remember him rolling away to the other side of the bed. If he couldn’t fix it in some practical, active way he didn’t know what use he could be to me. That was hard and it took me a long time to believe anyone who loved me would be willing to listen and comfort me, because I had really loved him and that was his response. He didn’t do it to be cruel, he just didn’t know what to do. But it made me believe you couldn’t be vulnerable, truly vulnerable and expect to be loved, that being vulnerable meant you were weak and by proxy unlovable. I’d be a liar if I said I’d got that hang up out of my system. I haven’t. It’s a WIP.
I was and am still blessed with having loving friends who hear me out if I can muster the strength to turn to them. I need to get better at doing that. But I worry they won’t cope if I’m honest.
2004 was probably my worst year though. Between 2002-2003 I’d been working out in the Maldives as a teacher, the fittest and healthiest I’d ever been, but running around barefoot with dodgy uneven legs which I had yet to twig I possessed, bought me down with the most exquisitely crippling sciatica you can possibly imagine. The pain in my lower back was poker red bright when I moved. In the end, I couldn’t walk. I came back to the UK, properly crippled despite the hospital in Male doing their best to help me. I walked agonising tiny distances, pouring with sweat, trembling with a stick in the middle of winter. My life ground to a halt. My relationship ended. I was in pain for 80% of the day, constant, constant pain which no one could tell me would ever end. I was drugged up to my eyeballs. I was lucky my brothers were brilliant, as was my sister in law and my niece. Eventually when I was mobile I moved back into my own flat. But I was so disillusioned and lost. So very, very lost.
I told very few people I was back in the UK. And then the depression hit me hard. But I didn’t let on to anyone. At the age of 31, |I started to visualise my own death. That had never happened before. I saw myself lying in my bath with my wrists slit, at peace. I know it sounds strange but it was a beautiful image. I saw death as a serene state. I saw the image more and more often. Then I made the big mistake of watching a Lukas Moodyson film called Lilya-4ever. It is possibly one of the most depressing films ever made. EVER. It is brilliant but unrelentingly dark. If you are remotely fragile *AVOID* If I had a klaxon I would use it right now to broadcast that word.
Watching it tipped me over the edge. The world, I concluded was a horrible, dangerous place filled with people who only wanted to hurt each other. I decided I wanted out. I didn’t want any part of that. I was back in the flat I’d promised myself I ‘d sell, as I hated the area I lived in and I never felt safe. I felt like a great big failure on that score. The sale had fallen through three times. I wasn’t meeting anyone or doing anything. I believed I had no talent. There wasn’t one redeeming thing I could think of. I was numb. Invisible. An intensely lonely prisoner in my own home. My body no longer felt like mine. I always felt vulnerable, fragile and life seemed to be going on all around me, but I seemed to have stopped living. So what was the point?
But that decision felt all kinds of wrong. I knew I didn’t want to die, but I was on some kind of weird autopilot as if I wasn’t in charge any more. In the back of my mind, I thought about my mum and how upset she’d be. How disappointed my younger brother would be as he’d worked so hard to get my walking again. I vividly remember calling my doctors surgery and asking for an emergency appointment. I told them I felt suicidal. I needed help. Amazingly, reception asked me to call them back the next day as no one had time to see me! Can you believe that?
Then my friend Kully called. She needed someone to look after her cat, Mia, and knew I loved cats. She asked if she could come over tomorrow. Crazy how the smallest things can make the difference between you staying alive and you meeting your maker. So I said okay.
When she arrived with this gorgeous cat, (which was hilariously a boy and not a girl, but would now no longer respond to any other name but Mia) I told her how I was feeling, she told me she knew a counsellor who would see me immediately and for free as she was part of a funded project. This was Jyoti. Jyoti was great.
My own doctor put me on Effexor which personally for me was a nightmare drug as I piled on weight, which having been a teen with an eating disorder wasn’t exactly fun. So I came off that after 3 weeks. It angered me I hadn’t been warned that could happen. I found St Johns Wort a much kinder alternative to my system and having a sensitive disposition also found I reacted fairly quickly to it. I always keep a bottle handy as a back up.
Seeing Jyoti was a life-saver. She patiently helped me unravel the big, messy ball of wool my head had become. I also made friends online with a young man called Jeremy Smith (RIP) whose wife suffered from depression. He was so supportive and he was going through a tough time and became my rock and I became his. We inspired each other. He was the first writer I ever made friends with and the first man to ever tell me I was truly talented. My novel, Gunshot Glitter, was birthed in it’s infancy during that era of my life. We also turned each other on to new music. Music is and always has been a huge part of my life. I felt alive again.
I started mixing more and when MySpace came along that gave me an even bigger voice as a writer, it was brilliant. I’ve done so much in my life backwards; I went to more gigs during that era then you can shake a stick at, at an age when many women were probably finally settling down and having babies; I was catching up on teenage years I’d never had. I felt more like ‘me’ again.
For me, personally, talking is the best way to manage depression when it happens. Externalising. And it is managing. Nothing screws me up more then silences, anxiety and not being able to express myself. It feels like someone has put a hand around my throat and thrown a bag over my head. I can’t breathe and it’s got very, very dark. Everything grinds to a halt, I can’t create, I don’t move, I stop talking, I bottle things up and my depression feeds on that. It loves it when I do that as then it has me all to itself. The thing that unshackles me is taking action or doing one, constructive, forward-moving thing; taking some power back or speaking to someone who can help me regain a sense of perspective and remind me about the reality of who I am. That I am special. My best friend Steve is brilliant for that.
I also find Tapping helps when my anxiety threatens to go through the roof. It works by you stimulating meridian points on your face and body with a tap from your fingers in a systematic way. It’s a stress management tool. You lose nothing through trying it, give it a go. Find out more here: http://www.tapping.com/
I am very, very lucky that I’ve never had an episode as bad as I did in 2004. I am a very strong, positive person on the whole and I have been through a lot. I am a survivor. It takes a lot of things going wrong at the same time to bring me down. I like living. I like being alive. I have so many things I still want to achieve in my life. But I have to say, it makes me very nervous even writing that I once did dream of taking a way out, because I still worry people reading that will judge me or hold it against me or not want to be close to me. That scares me so much, because I still find it very, very hard to be vulnerable to that extent. I am terrified of rejection. It ends up making me come across as emotionally overwhelming if I’m around someone I can’t just chat to for whatever reason. Lack of barriers and faith help enormously, openness, trust. I know a few of those things are my own issues.
I tend to shed my vulnerability in layers like someone undressing on a cold winter’s day. It is scary for me. But people do get misunderstood when they mention the word depression. Even my own doctor once cautioned me from mentioning it in the workplace. That’s really, really bad. A stigma issue we need to ditch.
But I suspect there are many, many more people out there like me who hit rock bottom and felt suffocated and alone, who need to know that it doesn’t condemn them. They just need help. They need to love themselves enough to seek it. Surely you owe yourself that?
If you are a good person you deserve to feel better about yourself and reach out to take control of your life again, to enable your recovery. In my opinion you need to give your darker psyche that roams your soul a massive kiss on the cheek, odd as that may sound. You need to acknowledge it as a part of you, but also tell it most adamantly that you are going to do your best to not let it eat you up again, however much it wants to. That it needs to take a nice, long kip and chill the fuck out. Or use that energy creatively as I do. And then you need to decide to live on, take one step at a time, get on with it and take your life back. This is not a dress rehearsal. This is your life. Cherish it.
Find out more about Blurt here: http://blurtitout.org/
Original URL: http://blurtitout.org/category/blog