This week has been a little hot for posts hasn’t it? Don’t get used to it, I’m sure I’ll get lazy soon. But, for now, I have something to share.
It looks like Down Days has hit the news, if only locally. Doncaster Free Press has been kind enough to share the story of the ebook. It’s right HERE, if you want to read it. Anyway, it was an interesting experience and the first time that I’ve actually been asked questions by one of The Interested who isn’t a counsellor or doctor. The reporter who was requesting information for the Free Press asked the usual questions: Who am I? Where am I from? But then we got down to the actual subject at hand, that of my depression. The questions he asked were absolutely normal and perfectly reasonable to ask. I’m not complaining about anything I was asked, or the write-up that was done afterwards. The reporter was both respectful and professional. But, I want to share with you what I was asked because I think it says a lot about how Those-Like-Us are seen by the world, and exactly how little understanding there is of the condition:
- Have you suffered from depression in the past?
- Can you explain the circumstances that led you to develop depression? (Please note you don’t have to be absolutely specific here, just the general reasons behind your condition.)
- What is it like having depression?
- What would you say was the lowest point of your depression?
- How did you pull yourself out of depression?
I mention in the ebook how hard it is to be asked the same questions over and over and being unable to provide an answer. This is the kind of thing I mean. These are monumental how-does-the-universe-function level queries, which is something that I don’t think The Interested understand. So let’s go through them.
1.Yes. Easy peasy.
2.Here’s what I said: “I’m afraid the circumstances leading to depression, or any mental illness, are far too complex to summarise and not lose something of the gravity.”
Here’s what I meant: Oh shit! How am I supposed to do that? If you have an ingrowing toenail, the pain comes from the nail digging into your toe, causing swelling and infection. I basically have a spectral ingrowing thought process which is twice as debilitating and that an industrious use of tweezers and clippers won’t fix. I think that one of the fundamental things we face, Those-Like-Me, is that The Interested, and even The Uninterested have no idea what depression even is. It isn’t their fault, of course. The information simply isn’t there. I’ve met medical professionals who have no idea what it is, never mind postal workers and police officers and waiting staff and everyone else. And how are we supposed to describe the thousands of tiny factors that lead to a depressive mind? Depression is the eye of a fly with a hundred facets that make it work, and everyone’s fly-eye has different facets.
3.Here’s what I said: Nothing. I just suggested that people read Down Days and hopefully they might find some clarity.
Here’s the long answer: How the hell do I summarise what it feels like? It took me a 25,000 word ebook to even scratch the surface of what it’s like to live with my Down Days. How can I possibly hope to explain in a few words what people have written hundreds of hefty tomes trying to encompass? Basically, I had no idea how to answer. Failure on my part. But still, this is an important note about the state of the world. If it can’t be broken down into a sentence, people don’t have the attention span for it. Mental health conditions are an abstract concept that exist in the energy of our minds. Try explaining that to someone without sounding like you’re completely off your rocker.
4. I actually ignored this question, because I’m a chicken shit. I had no idea how to even begin to write the list of all my lowest moments, never mind choose one single moment when I was the worst that I’ve ever been. I’m constantly performing a barn dance with my old buddies Depression, Anxiety, Self-loathing and Suicide in a place called the Wit’s End tavern. I’ve had moments of being curled in a ball, moments where I’ve screamed from frustration, moments where I’ve cried in public, and I’ve been an absolute bastard to the people I love. Or is my low point just one long moment, from the Big Event onward, which has never ended, a bit like a Mental Health Renaissance? I’ll be damned if I know!
5. And this was the clincher. Here’s what I answered: “As for ‘pulling myself out of my depression’, I never have. That, too, is the point of the book. I live with depression every day and will continue to do so. It’s about learning to manage the condition and showing that simply because I have depression, that doesn’t make me any less of a person.”
Bless that reporter. It isn’t his fault at all. This is just an assumption shared by most people who have never suffered with depression. It’s like a mood, right? You just get better. There’s an easy fix or a self-help book or a you-tube video which can cleanse you. Squirt the little gremlin with one-part Domestos and two-parts lemon juice and he shall be vanquished. Well, no. You can’t just buck up your ideas and be ok again. I’m stuck with this thing. That’s what this blog is about. It’s a journey and I don’t think there’s an end. All we can do is share what we go through, hope for some progress, some understanding, and plough on.
Thanks for reading.