Journal

I didn’t sleep at all last night, again. My wife got up for work at seven to find me in the kitchen, on Twitter. At least I was semi-coherent. The cats had been fed! I made her some sandwiches for work and kind of wandered around the kitchen for a while unable to decide what to do next. I made a coffee, went out onto the patio, smoked a cigarette, and came back in because it was cold. My wife went to work, the cats went out to play, and I was alone, in the kitchen, with my thoughts – a place I’m not very comfortable in these days.

I did some tweeting and spoke to some friends on Facebook and then I got itchy feet. I drove down to mum & dad’s at about nine. I love my parents dearly, words aren’t enough, but this morning was hard. Sometimes I just don’t want to talk about it any more. Sometimes I just want some normalcy. We chatted about football and family and then, inevitably, the conversation turned to me. I told them as much as I dared – I don’t want them to worry too much – and assured them that all will be well in another few weeks. I wish I believed that.

I came back home and tried to do some writing but I was too exhausted to think straight. TV grated on my nerves, as did music, and I couldn’t concentrate to read. I made a pot of fresh coffee and chainsmoked for a bit before giving up and going to bed at eleven. My wife came home around one and, a lovely surprise, came to join me in a quick nap. That was nice.

Since I’ve been up I have been in the most foul mood I’ve experienced for a long time. I have anger issues, there’s no doubting that. Road rage is my speciality as I am also a coward. The depression also means that I tend to ruminate, seethe, and exaggerate things out of all proportion. Knowing that doesn’t help, though, and tonight I was a tightly coiled steel spring of anger and bitterness. I have a couple of things that I need to deal with at the moment but nothing that warrants that level of rage. It’s the kind of anger that leads me to seek out isolation as I fear any kind of outburst will escalate to ridiculous levels. I’m not a violent man – like I said, I’m a coward at heart – but I have a very sharp tounge and I can, when the mood takes me, wield it like a sword. When I get like this I’m scared that I’ll say something that I can’t un-say, that I’ll really hurt those closest to me. I know that depression is a “selfish” illness but I have to be constantly on my guard against snapping, shouting, screaming, offending, and it’s fucking exhausting. Since about five o’clock I’ve been shaking almost constantly, my chest tight and my stomach clenched, adrenaline rushing and mind racing, and it has sucked the energy out of me.

But guess what? I can’t sleep.

I am actually wide awake right now, again in the kitchen, again on the laptop, again drinking coffee and chainsmoking. I know they don’t help but at the moment they are the only succour I can find.

I’ve tried to “chill out” and watch some of my favourite old movies but I’m too jumpy and aggitated to sit still for that length of time. I’ve tried reading but I don’t have the concentration. The only thing I can manage to do is write. For some reason I’ve probably written more in the last few days than I have in the last few months. Ever since I was a child I’ve wanted to be a writer, in love with literature that I still don’t understand, with shelves heaving with books. After so long in a career that was clearly wrong for me and, in my last job, a run-in with a workplace bully that I simply didn’t have the energy to fight, I’m finally “living the dream”. All I do all day is smoke and write and you know what? That’s fine by me.

All I need to do now is pay my mortgage.

These hours, between eleven and seven a.m. That’s when I’m at my best these days. In the cool quiet of my kitchen I can be anyone I want with these words. I can be strong, I can be compassionate, I can be humble. With this laptop I can explain the feelings and articulate the thoughts that plague me. I can reach out across the oceans and make contact with someone I’ve never met who is suffering and, through the power of words at the speed of the internet I can help, maybe, in some small way. I can do all this from the safety and security of my own home, but…

With great power comes great responsibility.

I want to help you but I honestly don’t know how, yet. I’m learning, slowly and mostly about myself, and one day I will have answers for you if that’s what you’re here for. For now, though, all I can do is share with you what it’s like to be me.

I’ve spoken to some good people on Twitter who tell me that it’s valuable just to know what other people are going through, that it’s not just you, that someone understands, empathises, even if they have no concrete answers to this most complex and individual condition. So I’m going to keep blogging and, starting with this post, I’ll be writing a daily journal to let you know what’s happening in my life and in my head. If you want to comment or get in touch on Twitter then that’s cool with me. I don’t understand what’s happening to us and I can’t experience your pain but if we stick together, for just a little while longer, I’m sure that we can work it out between us.

I hope that’s ok. It’s all I have to offer you right now.

 

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You…

“You did this to me.”

“You.”

“You never let up did you? Every time I tried something new, something to improve our lives, something I thought I could be proud of, you told me I’d fail. You never supported me in anything. You said you supported me, sure, but you didn’t. You were all talk. I tried everything I could to make myself happy, for you, and you managed to wreck my confidence and my plans for the future every fucking time.”

“I hate you.”

“I wish I could wrap a wrope around you kneck and hang you high, slowly, so you suffered and I could watch you die. I wish I could find the finest of blades and slit your skin open for all to see the hatred inside you – the hatred you must feel for me to have done this.”

“You did this to me, you fucking cunt.”

“Every joke was sneered at, ever good idea discouraged, ever attempt at inidividuallity, of independent thought, was smothered under your stifling control. Sometimes, when I sensed your presence, I’d go cold. I would freeze up, unable to think, unable to act, for fear of your seering scorn.”

“You did this to me. I let you do this to me. I even thought I loved you, that you were somehow an essential part of me that worked to allow me to do the things I do. I thought you were my muse, my mentor, and my biggest fan. I trusted you. I trusted you and you crushed me – mentally, spritually, physically – without a single shred of regret or humantiy.”

“I hate you. I wish you were fucking dead.”

Jonathan raised his fist, staring coldly, blankly at the person standing before him. His expression froze as he brought his fist forward, hard, toward that face that he had previously so loved and cared for. His aim was good and the knuckles of his balled fist made contact right at the point of the jaw where unconsciousness was assured.

The mirror smashed into a thousand glistening pieces and rained down before him. He stood, for a moment, with his head bowed – motionless, expressionless – contemplating the shards of ice at his feet. Slowly, he turned and walked to the kitchen. Dazed and silent, he took a “Welcome to Cyprus” tea towel from the kitchen drawer and wrapped it around the gaping wound, highlighted against his own pale skin. He sat in a chair at the dining table and rested his feet on another. As he reached for his cigarettes, he wondered in silence how long it would be before he finally killed himself.

He lit a cigarette and breathed deeply, leaning back in his chair, enjoying the pain as the poison eased its way into him.

Briefly, for a moment, he was happy.

 

Imagine…

Depression isn’t a mental illness. This is physical, too.

People who tell us it’s all in our minds or to pull ourselves together obviously haven’t been through it. The macho men who claim that an hour in the gym will benefit me have obviously never felt this physical pain, this complete bodily exhaustion. It’s not their fault, they’re trying to help us, and they may even be right. Exercise may be a great medicine for depression. It may be the silver bullet we’re all so desperate to find.

I wouldn’t know because the act of summoning up the physical energy to get to the gym (not to mention the anxiety humps I’ll need to get over to just get out of the house and face a gym full of people) is Herculean, most of the time impossible. I’d be perfectly happy to tell the world if I thought it would work but, as I can rarely get out of bed, I wouldn’t know.

So don’t go to the gym. Just go for a walk.

A walk!? Are you fucking kidding me? What if I bump into someone? What if I bump into someone I don’t like??? The school bully still lives a few streets away and if I bumped into him while puffing and panting and sweating and struggling to exercise, I think I’d vomit with fear.

Pull yourself together, then!

Look. I’m sure you mean well but, fuck, you’re not helping. This is a medical condition, mental AND physical, that I sincerely hope you never have to experience. This is real and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

So next time you hear of someone who is depressed, instead of puffing out your chest and telling us to get over ourselves, that there are worse situations to be in, imagine what it feels like to be terrified – bodily terrified – of leaving your own house. Imagine what it feels like to walk down the street with sweat dripping from you and thinking that everyone you pass is talking about you, laughing at you, judging you. Imagine struggling with yourself, tying yourself up in mental knots, internally beating yourself up for being such a wimp. Imagine not being able to do your job – the job you love and always dreamed of doing – because you’re too afraid, scared, like a child lost in a city. Imagine not being able to leave your house to visit your own fucking mother.

Imagine it. Because I pray that you never experience it.