Friday, 19 July 2013

Depression is the pits

From Micah Sparacio's blogpost
10 Ways to Fight Depression
When I say I was in therapy for ten years, people often exclaim in surprise: "You're the last person I would have thought needed therapy." I say, "Yeah! that's cuz I've done it!" 

I suffered depression on and off in my teens, dismissing it as typical teenage moodiness. The problems reached a peak while I was doing my undergraduate studies. After one of my suicide attempts, a friend made a helpful comment. He said: "People who rely on their friends to help them often don't survive depression. You need professional help." I must have been in a very bad way because when I turned up at the university counselling service they booked me straight in for a session. Now I realise that this was unusual, since university counselling services are shamefully overloaded. At the time I just took it for granted, sunk in my selfish misery. 

Depression is a very selfish condition. When you are that low, you really can't think of anything but yourself. People sometimes say: "How could that person be so uncaring of their family and friends, as to kill themselves?" Well, when you are that deep down in a black pit of despair that you can't even care about your own life, you are not in a position to consider anyone-else's. Being told to think of others is just an additional burden which makes you feel it's even less worthwhile. You feel like you are letting everyone down already and you better top yourself and spare them the annoyance of you threatening it. 

Although depression is horrible to experience, it's also very miserable for those who have to live with it. Anyone who is depressed and in any kind of sociable situation: family, house-share, working with colleagues, really ought to consider getting some support and figuring it out. It makes it hard for everyone-else to enjoy sunshine and lollipops when one person has a constant face like a thunder cloud and goes round kicking things and looking on the bleak side of death. Kick that selfish sod up the bum and send them out to counselling, say I. I am not much of a one for prescription drugs, although if they work for you, go for them. When I had them myself they made me feel as if I was experiencing the world through candyfloss with no flavour to it. I didn't find them helpful, I still used to cry helplessly for no reason. 

It can take years to figure these things out and work through to happiness. 

Wow! that sounds like a downer. But pretending tomorrow will be a brighter day will not actually work when you wake up on the morrow and find it's pretty much like today. 

In this art installation
Yoko Ono got people
to climb up a ladder
and read the word 'Yes'.
John Lennon married
her because she wrote
Yes not No.
When I was a suicidal undergraduate student, I had an epiphanal moment. It didn't come with trumpets trailing glorious golden clouds of course. It was one day I was really sunk down and wanted to top myself and I said, No. I was too miserable and grumpy to say, Yes to life. But I did say No, to suicide. It was a start. 

I was listening to Lou Reed's Perfect Day. (Gosh, that's enough to send you over the edge alone! LOL. With its lugubrious monotonal singing and in a minor key.) I thought to myself, 'One day I will have a perfect day. I will be perfectly happy all day long. I don't know how long it will take. I have no idea how to get there. But I won't kill myself and lose the chance of that one perfect day.' 

One of our own new kittens.
I did a good thing for myself. I realised that it would take a long time and be hard work, there would be no quick fix. It's often not possible to tolerate such happiness when you're still very low. When you are down and depressed, you're like a new kitten whose eyes are just open. Bright colours and loud happy music is potentially damaging to your vulnerable new vision and hearing. 

I didn't quite realise what a big ambition I was setting! It probably would have been easier if I'd said, "One day I want to be Queen of Greenland." A whole perfect day. There's always something a bit irritating. There's always something that you think, 'well, that was fun - but if only so-and-so had been here too, it would have been perfect'. To have a whole day that is perfectly happy from start to finish is quite something! 

However I am very glad I said, No to death and aimed for the stars in that way. I've had so many perfectly happy moments since then - and even some perfectly happy half hours. Like the time I went to the beach on my birthday, or once when I went off on a picnic with my gay group, or when I got on the train with ,my best friends and we were eating the most delicious food - as usual, and then we realised the train had not even started, we were so greedy we had nearly finished our picnic before the train got out of the station. (Man those marinated peppers my best friend brought were delicious! and the smell of garlic ensured we had the whole carriage to ourselves, LOL.) 

I think now that to have a perfect day, you need to have a lot of pretty good days around it. Perhaps you even had a sad and difficult time; you and those close to you came through it - supporting each other, being there and caring. You did good things for yourself and for others. You accepted it when people offered to do nice things for you. (That can be hard if you think you are so trashy you want to kill yourself.) A perfect day probably doesn't arrive with a big fanfare, and everyone going: oooh, just look! Perfect day coming up, in three, two, one ...! You probably only realise a while afterwards: that autumn was so lovely, and that day I had with (name all your favourite people) was just perfect. 

Come to think of it, I haven't listened to Lou Reed's Perfect Day for years. I do listen quite often to Handel's The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba though. 

No comments:

Post a Comment