Someone (@ADadCalledSpen) asked me if I had ever blogged about depression, I haven’t and that is because for the most part I'm a pretty happy guy and why not, I have a wonderful wife, seven amazing kids, we aren't starving, I'm fairly healthy, all is basically good. Not perfect but pretty good.
All the really important things in my existence are fine, I could complain about the house, its damp issues, the lack of money, the lack of job or opportunity and the as yet lack of success as a writer, but you know what? That stuff will change if I work hard enough, make the right moves or perhaps catch a lucky brake while working hard at it and making the right moves. That stuff is transient, in ten years I’ll either look back and say ‘hey I made it’ or ‘Hey, I didn't but this job is OK and I'm still writing and blogging so who cares right?’ One way is obviously more favourable but I’ll take the other without tears.
It wasn't always this way though and that’s the thing, depression isn't something you catch like a cold and then ‘shake off’ in a few weeks. It’s not something that is all or nothing either, it comes in all different sizes and strengths and folks, you need to read this clearly...it’s a disease. You can beat it and move on and never look back but be aware that it can seep into your life, drain the colour from your eyes and leave everything grey and lifeless or rob you of respite from it by destroying your sleep patterns and making you so unreachable that the people that you really need turn away as you push them out the door.
I know that people have terrible, awful times, BLACK DAYS, days when getting out of bed is almost impossible and you feel that the world would certainly be better without you in it. I know that self loathing and fear can drive you so deep that any compliment is a lie, any concern for you is ridiculous, for how could anyone love someone like you?! I know that in those days you can see no future that isn't touched by the dull ache of emptiness and loneliness.
I can tell you I have felt low, lower than I’d ever want to be again three times in my life. They were all connected to the same feelings of inadequacy and failure and through those times my decision making process was compromised to a massive degree. My ability to care for myself, communicate with others and keep myself going forward simply dropped off the chart. They are moments I'm not proud of, times I look back on and yet they are times that show that I am not just human, but very human and that is what makes me who I am.
When I was fourteen I moved to a new town and as a painfully shy person I couldn't make friends, deal with the new people or the new dynamic in my life. I came from a shitty inner city area where I never bunked of school, was looking at some pretty good grades for my exams and people thought I was pretty smart. It didn't work out that way in the new town but I could have probably got a whole bunch of exam results and headed to university, I'm a smart enough person to have done that. From there I probably would have got a much better job, met different people and would probably have more money, a better home and be able to drive. But then I wouldn't be here, right now, with my wonderful wife and kids, so I'm glad it all went wrong.
Fast forward a few years and I’d just broken up with someone and this is bizarre but I actually took a good pop at committing suicide. I took a whole bunch of pill and banged a bottle of whiskey. I'm not a big guy and I ain't got no hollow legs, so I lay down and you know what? I was happy for the first time not just in weeks but in months. I was really relieved that all this crap was finally going to go away and everyone would be free to move on without the weight around their neck that was Edd. I passed out. Lights out. Game over. I was glad...then pow, I'm rolling over and throwing up. All that crap formed a dark patch on the floor and it was black, this horrible black sludge and then I roll over again and I'm out again. I felt rough for weeks afterwards but I realised I’d gotten lucky and started to try and clear my head and over the months that followed I drank a whole lot, did irresponsible, naughty things but I got better and pulled myself out of the mire.
The thing is I never tidied up the mess. I walked out of my room in the morning and went to a mates and stayed away for a day. When I got back the sick was gone as was the empty bottle and the empty bottle of pills I’d taken from the kitchen. I presume my mum found it all, tidied it up and from then kept an eye on me. We've never talked about it and to be honest I really don’t want to now. It’s in the past. But you know if I hadn't done that I never would have looked around and decided that I needed to get out there and I’d never have met my now wife just a year later. So it’s weird but I'm glad that happened too.
Finally, the third passage. The last time I scooped way low. Nope. Not going there. Sorry, that shit doesn't need to be visited ever again. I worked through it, I got another chance to make the right decisions and with those second chances I built the foundations of my life now.
Depression is something I suffered from, something that sits there in my past, waiting for a chance to come back in. I know I'm susceptible to the Sirens call of self hatred and so I combat it with positive action and self monitoring, but you know what else? I'm a lucky one. Other people get taken and don’t come back out. Other people, great, clever, amazing, inspiring, beautiful people fall into depression and it is like falling. Plummeting into a darkness you haven’t chosen and no matter how you try you can’t grab onto something on the edge to hold onto. Some fall and fall and fall and the really horrible thought is that there is no bottom, just the endless descent into deeper and deeper levels of loathing and fear and paranoia and despair.
I didn't have it bad I don’t think. I could climb my own way out but that doesn't mean everyone can. There are degrees and to be honest you really don’t know what it’s like unless you've been down there at the bottom of the well. When people say ‘you just have to pull yourself together,’ ‘stiff upper lip’ and ‘we didn't have it in our day’, then they are, for the most part, utterly deluded.
Depression has always been with humanity in some way shape or form, people have always committed suicide, been withdrawn, it’s not new, it’s not modern and it’s as real a threat to us as cancer. Hell, it even acts the same way! Hiding inside us, growing, building, poisoning our thoughts and destroying our lives, and guess what? You can’t just see it on people. Some people hide it incredibly well for a time, they keep the dark secret that they just want to sit and cry close to them because there is stigma about it. That some people see it as weakness and self indulgence. So they hold onto that shit till the invisible killer strikes and people say ‘he was so nice, so quiet. I don’t even know why he killed himself,’ or ‘She was upset but I didn’t think it was that serious.’
DEPRESSION IS SERIOUS SHIT.
There are ways through it, ways to come out of it, techniques that can help you climb back to the light, but make no mistake, it’s not easy, not ever a case of just ‘pulling yourself together’ or ‘manning up’ and if you think it is? Go read. Read about depression, educate yourself because if you don’t you may find that you are the one in the dark place and with that kind of attitude you are going to make life incredibly hard for yourself. Mental illness affects one in three people statistically. Look around you. One in three.
Depression isn't a joke. It’s a disease. A chemical imbalance that can take any of us at any time and even if you can see it coming there is no way of knowing if you can fight it off. I recovered and have a great life. I'm not crazy or stupid. I never was. I was depressed.
Think before you judge.
I think I'm done.