“It’s hard to believe
That there’s nobody out there
It’s hard to believe
That I’m all alone”
Don’t worry, I’m not shooting speedballs under a bridge. But it’s really amazing how much a song about getting fucked up in Los Angeles can connect with someone whose hardest hit has come from a Lemsip. Unfortunately, this song and that particular verse really resonates with me on a deeply unhappy level.
That is because every day my life is a constant battle with depression, and has been since I was about 15.
I seldom use the “D word” because I hate it. Plain and simple. I think it’s a fucking horrible and dirty word. People hear the word depression and suddenly you’re a leper, or that guy from Trainspotting who caught HIV. Try having it and telling a friend, and try not to punch them when they say “oh it’s not real”.
If someone tells you that they are depressed, and you respond with a retort like that, you are not being helpful in any way and in fact you are being the selfish party. “Depression isn’t real”… I’m sure that Frances Cobain and Zelda Williams would love to hear more about your theory on the complexity of the human mind.
Most of my life is like this, a civil war going on inside my head. Angry at the people who stigmatise depression and angry at myself for not making better life choices. It seems that most of my life has been one bad decision after another:
– Went to university
– Stuck around at university
– Didn’t get a part-time job when I was younger
– Didn’t learn how to socialise when I was younger
I’m sure you get the point. I regret a hell of a lot stuff, which is probably not a good default setting for a 23 year old to have. This generally leads to a lot of self-imposed isolation.
Maybe it would be truly selfish of me to drag other people into my mess…
“You ever hear the story of Mr. Faded Glory?
Say he who rides a pony must someday fall”
Generally, I’m quite good at hiding my depression. I’m not an actor, I’m just very sarcastic and dry witted which goes a very long way towards keeping that mask on. I used to self-harm when I was younger because I reacted to a really shit situation by being an arsehole.
Everything just seemed to go wrong and I simply couldn’t take it. I am quite mature, I handled my parents splitting up at a young age relatively well and my family life generally feels quite fractured, but I get on with it.
Head down, earphones in and the occasional Football Manager session. Standard.
But the later years of high school were a tough time for me to handle. You get thrust into the future, you start to want a relationship with the opposite sex (or same sex, bat for whatever team you want to) and you get overwhelmed with a metric fuck tonne of paperwork and pressure.
I did not cope well at all, and it all felt like public domain. I don’t expect sympathy, I handled the pressure like an amateur and took it out on everyone and myself. It was a fucking mess, especially for an introvert 16 year old about to enter the real world.
Not the best start to adult life, it’s like a track runner slipping after the starting pistol. It would be wrong of me to deflect the blame, I fucked this experience up big time.
Depression is an exhausting thing to have, even if your job revolves around you sitting around for 8-9 hours a day. It’s emotionally exhausting to put on a brave face every day and try to convince your colleagues that everything is fine and dandy, especially when you’re trying to escape a very crappy shadow that won’t go away.
I don’t want to be the 16 year old me, I don’t want anything in common with that guy. I’d love to shed the skin, have a memory transplant and start again.
It’s even more tiring trying to convince yourself that every new day is a victory, because you still hate yourself. It feels like a hollow victory. Like winning the World Cup because the Argentinean bus broke down on the way to the stadium. A hollow victory because you never got to prove that you are the best team in the world in front of a live audience.
I am my own television and the public are my audience, and I cannot prove to myself that I am happy. I can say it, but I cannot convince myself.
I try to live a very grounded and level headed life, I struggle to take compliments and I don’t make promises that I cannot guarantee that I will stick to. I also turn everything into a joke, because a depressed clown isn’t quite cliched enough yet.
If I don’t laugh at my surroundings or the sheer absurdity of the things I see, then I will break down. That is not a good reflex for anyone, especially in the adult world where if stuff goes wrong you have to suck it up.
Growing up you are told that you can do anything. At college and university I was told that I am a talented and intelligent guy and that I could make it. Make it to what, I have no idea.
I don’t feel like I’m anywhere close to living up to that hype. I’m in a complaints department which is nowhere near my university degree and I live in my mother’s house in a town that I frankly wish would burn to the ground.
We live in a culture of playing through the pain, where pain is a weakness and not quite conforming to the narrative of the “British backbone and stiff upper lip”. We live in a culture of victim blaming where there is always someone worse off than you.
Yet we’re never actually told what rock bottom is. Funny how people can’t explain that one.
We live in 2015 and depression is a dirty word. What do you have to be depressed about? Depression is caused by either a chemical imbalance in the brain or a shitty upbringing, neither of which anyone asks for.
Sorry that’s an inconvenience on you. How selfish of me…
I want this article to come across as angry, because quite honestly I’m tired of hiding. A lot of people cry out for help in different ways, some call the suicide hotline and some leave train-tracks on their arm. Some people take a shotgun shell to the head.
Either way, it’s deemed as a selfish attitude to have and I really don’t understand that logic.
Take Robin Williams and Kurt Cobain; They were honest and completely open about their depression for years, yet we were still surprised that they killed themselves. Sorrow and sadness is completely acceptable, but surprise and anger?
“How could they do that to the people who loved them!?”
They hated themselves. They hated who they were and could not stand to put their friends and family through all the bullshit. When someone kills themselves, they are taking themselves out of the equation because they deem themselves to be toxic.
Who wants to be around a buzzkill, right? It really dampens the party when someone mentions that they do not enjoy life.
“This man has had thoughts of killing himself, get this man a jagerbomb!”
Or something like that. Another classic line is:
“Suicide is a coward’s way out”
Yeah, no. No it isn’t at all. This is where the “play through the pain” mentality comes into play.
Suicide is a big step to take. I wouldn’t want anyone to be in the position where they feel the need to take a bunch of pills or take a knife to their wrists. If you fuck it up, you’re a selfish attention seeker. If you succeed, you’re selfish.
But yet we’re unhappy and we’re selfish for being unhappy?
It’s a no-win situation. I’m a deeply unhappy person, but I have felt like I had to pick and choose very carefully about who I admit it to. How do you expect a person going through intense self-loathing to be happy if you stigmatise them?
Depression is a lot harder for the person suffering, which should go without saying. I can completely understand why someone would freak out if their friend tells them that they hate themselves, but do you know what you can do to help?
Just be there. It might help if you don a cape and do your best superhero voice, but generally you just need to be there.
“With the blink of an eye you finally see the light
When the moment arrives that you know you’ll be alright
I’m taking steps to manage my depression more naturally. Steps like curbing my vices, trying to stay productive and blowing off steam more regularly. It’s probably a good idea for me to cut the booze out completely too.
I’m fucking done with anti-depressants, I hate being on them and hate the thought of needing to take pills to make me happy.
I work with in a very multi-cultural environment, and these people have moved to a big city and have had to adapt. I told one colleague that I admire them greatly and would love to have their confidence. As they put it:
“I’m very shy, actually. But if I don’t get along with anyone, then I die”
Of course those last three words were said entirely in jest, but it did make me smile. As far as I’m aware, that person does not suffer with any depression issues, but the logic still applies.
People with depression want to get better, want to be happier. Again, this shouldn’t need pointing out, but it does. The fact that those with a psychological problem feel the need to hide it angers and upsets me, and it only adds to the growing black cloud.
The world can be a fucked up and dangerous place, but so can our own minds. The world is even more fucked up and dangerous when you feel that no-one has your back, or when you feel that you can only offer negativity to this world.
If you’re going to take anything from this, then please support those suffering mental health issues. You’ll be surprised just how far a simple high-five and the occasional chat will go. I would also recommend the films It’s Kind of a Funny Story and Detachment to help gain a better understanding of depression and isolation, but other than that I myself am not really sure what other films deal with the issue.
“I have faced it
A life wasted
I’m never going back again”
I’m a self-deprecating cynic, and that won’t change anytime soon. But I have to change something in my life, I have to try something new and maintain it. One day at a time…
If I don’t, then I die.”
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