Mental Health Awareness Week: The Other D


I think everyone is a bit sad in some way or another. There’s usually something to worry about, and after a while in the company of your own melancholy you learn to see it in other people. You see it in the eyes. It’s always the eyes.

I struggle to think of anyone who is truly happy. I mean, completely 100% happy. I don’t think it exists. To be honest, I don’t know if 100% of anything can really exist. Maybe I’m stretching a bit here – from time to time, we all get sad. It’s natural. And when I think about it, I don’t know if I could ever believe or trust any person who presented him/herself as ‘happy’, without thinking: “What are you hiding, and when do you plan on killing me?”.

I try to pinpoint the moment when something in my head broke and I became one with the eternal mind funk that is the sad. I remember never really believing in Santa, or getting the chance, more aptly. I must have been around five years old when I saw my Mother walking down the stairs with a very large pull-string bag full of wrapped presents. “Sorry” came the reply, to my puzzled face. All I knew for the years of my Christmas going youth was that Santa drove the Coke truck exclusively in December and was always drinking the stuff from the bottle. I can only pray for his teeth.

I don’t think that was the Ground Zero of my mind break, but I’m sure some psychologists would suggest that implanting a state of non-belief in me; in never allowing myself to believe in anything that wasn’t human.

It wasn’t until many drunken breakdowns in my first year of University, (and the occasional brain blip in following years) that I suspected I miigghhttt not be ok after all.

See, turns out that throughout my teens, through the wonderful pubescent barriers of awkwardness and class clownery, I had, without really meaning to, been suppressing all of my feelings. Hiding them in a dark recesses of my heart and mind. For the longest time, I’d never really been comfortable with talking about what was going on in my head. Although there was never really the outlet to either, which probably didn’t help.

School was largely untroubled – I did well, I had good friends, never got bullied (I know, right). There was no reason to be down, and yet I was. Although I didn’t know it at the time. I just assumed being quiet and unresponsive and sometimes anxious was a phase, something that all teens did, and that it would pass. Never really getting enthusiastic about anything, but never letting appearances show upset. For many years, I had the sad but didn’t realise it because in my naivety, I just assumed depression was my personality. My being.

Everything felt like a dull grey middle ground, a neutral zone where not much bothered me, and not much made me feel great either. Throw in the odd mild anxiety attack (in my case, sudden heavy heart rates and nervousness) out of nowhere just to keep me on my toes. They’re fun. The ones where you are fine you are fine you are fine omg I heard next door they have friends over and now I’ve panicked why are you panicking I don’t know but i need to go to my room and shut the door for an hour till this stops and next door die. I think the one positive of depression is that I never thought I was capable of crying until I did. So that was something.

I feel I fake emotion a lot. I’ve often wondered if I might be a sociopath, if it’s a symptom of depression. Or vice versa, even. I suppose the best way to describe it is how Dexter Morgan (from Dexter, duh) fits into his life and job, blending in as just another person with the presentation of perfectly normal in every way. Minus the killing, granted. But if you in any way understand the reference, you’re halfway there. This is something else that I don’t know where it started. It goes back to how my mind is stuck at a neutral ground. So I guess it would make sense that I started creating a more fun personna, answering the way a fun guy would answer, getting on with everyone I could. If it wasn’t for that, most of my replies would be ‘ok’, ‘whatever’ ‘meh’ ‘*shrug*’ and ‘I’m dead inside’.

Sometimes (and only sometimes) the thought of killing myself pops by. Now, I stress it just appears. You can’t really help it with depression. It can be as quick as:

“Oh, I’m hungry. Might just have an apple or something.”
“Hey, Darryl.”
“What, brain?”
“That apple?“
“Would taste better if you were dead.”
“Well, that’s not true”.
“Is it?”

At Uni, I thought trying therapy could help. I could never be sure if seeing other folk with the head blues waiting for their turn was reassuring or not. There shouldn’t be so many in the world that can think like me and ‘get’ what it all means. It’s not ok. All I know is that it hit me pretty hard in my third and final year, and as such my work suffered, so I graduated with a 2:2 in Comedy, which in itself I guess is kinda funny.

My therapy was sitting in a room and just talking. Although by the second session, it felt like I had to just keep spewing up literally anything that had upset me, which quickly didn’t feel productive for my already shaky mental health. So I stopped. I tried meds as well, but I never liked to temporary artificial feeling they produced, like I wasn’t real. So I stopped. Woe is me and all that.

It’s kind of embarrassing, depression. Like, there’s so much more going on in the world, so many bigger things, and then there is me, at 25, considering whether or not to hide under my bed till the sad passes for now.

I think I have to learn that depression is not who I am, although for the longest time it’s been riding my coattails. It is an illness. It is. And I can be better. The anxieties and reluctances, the repression of every teen emotion and the on-going sleepless nights, being battered by all the deep, dark thoughts. I know it is something I’ll have to live with and it won’t ever just go away, even though that would be sweet.

One day, I will make my head go from nothing, to something, and that will be worth the empty years. The one victory I will take is having a good life. Despite the damage it’s done so far, I won’t let depression take that from me.

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