Monday, October 18, 2010

My Depression And Me: An Introduction

This was going to be one post, but I think it would have become too long and rambling, so I'm going to split it into parts.

This post is quite difficult for me to write. Firstly, it's talking about me and my feelings - rather than just ranting - and secondly, it's talking about what many people consider to be a mental illness. I am personally of the opinion that an abscence of depression is more indicative of mental illness and that if more people actually acknowledged that they too were sufferers, being depressed would be seen as the statistical norm.

Some of you who know me may be aware that I suffer from depression. I say "suffer", I'm not usually the one who suffers from my depression. In many ways I used to quite like being depressed. It is quite possible that you've known me for decades and not realised I had depression. This is either because I find your company so utterly exhilarating or you too have something akin to depression. Or you just thought I was moody.

This isn't a recent thing: I've been doing it all my life. I remember being told I used to scare the other kids at Primary school by telling them how we could die in a nuclear assault and have no warning whatsoever. To me, that threat of nuclear oblivion didn't seem scary, just inevitable. So I accepted it and didn't worry about it. The kids I told about my (to them) terrifying world view thought about how they'd never see their families again and started having panic attacks.

To me I was doing them a favour. I was explaining a situation they hadn't thought of and what would happen to them and the world they knew. That didn't terrify me. Not knowing - or at least not considering all the possibilities - terrified me. Once I knew about the likelihood and the potential outcome, I could accept it and not be bothered by it.

Leading up to my exams, I think I spent the best part of three months at home. It wasn't that I had any fear of going to school (or of the exams), it was just that I *couldn't* leave the house. And not in an agoraphobia way either. It was just a debilitating mental block made physical. And it's not like I did anything interesting or exciting while not being at school. I'd sit in almost perfect silence just thinking negative thoughts.

And once I'd thought all the negative things I could imagine, then I'd be able to progress and do something positive. This is kinda where being depressed appeared to be quite helpful. In my head, I'd think that the exams would concentrate entirely on parts of the syllabus I hadn't revised. So instead of revising everything, I revised nothing. Not a single thing. This would - in my head - increase the chance that I'd know the answers, as there wasn't any part of the syllabus I knew any worse than any other section.

Brilliant. Obviously I do not suggest this approach to anyone who isn't me.

Surprisingly, I did quite well at both O Level & A Level, despite never revising for anything. Driving test, didn't revise. First Aid qualifications, never revised. Degree finals, no revision whatsoever. Any other single exam I have ever taken in my entire life, not a minute of revision.

And I continue with the same level of madness in many other parts of my life. If I watch a game of football, the team I am supporting are more likely to lose than if I am not watching. In my mind, this is a fact. I haven't actually done an analysis of the results as I don't want to break my intricately constructed world view. But even as I type this, I still think that it's probably true.

The effect of me listening to the game on the radio would reduce my overall ability to cause the team I was supporting to lose, but it would still be there. Following the game via text updates or on Sky Sports News also counts as me watching it. The only guaranteed way of getting my team to win is to not have a team. I'm like a jinx; Newcastle United have never won anything since I was born specifically because I was born.

This does not lead, you will be unsurprised to learn, to me having a joyful life.

With the depression I have - not the sexy bi-polar one, sadly, there's no days of ecstatic highs for me - and the length of time I've had it (I think it's probably been with me for about 35 years) I've come to expect never feeling competely happy. Not in a pessimistic kind of way, it's actually more pervasive than that. I have come to believe - not suspect, believe - that if I am actually happy about something, that something will fall apart spectacularly.

If I am very happy about someone, that someone will leave me in some way (die, move, get abducted by aliens). If I am very pleased with something, that something will stop (break, get stolen, burn down, fall over and sink into the swamp). So I moderate my happiness to stop bad things happening (no, really, it's all down to me). Despite being incredibly pleased with my relationship and my home life, I try to not become happy about it so that it doesn't all come to a crashing halt.

Now there's obviously a problem doing this: I remain ambivalent and my partner doesn't think I'm happy with her. I end up in the same situation as I fear being in from being happy, and I've never had the benefit of unreservedly enjoying any of it.

And I am fully aware of this. And yet I still do it.

This will continue. Probably tomorrow. Maybe not. I'll see how I feel.

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Anonymous Paula said...

I didn't know this about you back then, probably because I didn't know anything about anything back then, but still looking back I would never have known. I love the way you write about it, it makes is so easy to understand and I also think you're probably right about us all being somewhere on the scale. But you obviously manage it in some way, or do you? Have you ever tested the theory? Too may questions, I'm sorry, but I want to know more.... Px

Blogger yorkshiregirl said...

Very eloquently put, Silas. I hope you don't take it the wrong way if I say I'm looking forward to the next instalment. I find it fascinating. Hx

Anonymous The Devil said...

It's all because you hate me. I know.

If you want out, all you gotta do is say. (I realise this is your polite way of living me, the boy, and your three children)

Still, try thinking happy thoughts, kay?

And brilliant

Anonymous The Devil said...

Dammit - pressed the wrong damn button - my verification word there was scone - how cool is that?


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