Comments & Discussion…

I’ve opened comments up to the non-registered if anyone would like to add anything. If you have anything to add to the conversation then feel free – I’m only just beginning to understand my condition myself.

If you’re here to tell me to pull myself together then you can fuck off.

bdm x

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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.

Trust…

Trust is a big issue for me. I’m an extremely insecure person underneath it all and I’m not quick to trust someone. One of the hardest things to deal with in the comedy industry is the lack of trust. You can’t turn your back for five minutes without someone putting you down to other people or trying to take work from you. I know that it’s a competitive industry and that people have bills to pay but surely there’s a better way to make a living than fucking over your so-called “friends”?

I love writing this blog, it’s cathartic, but you may have noticed that I’m keeping my identity to myself for the time being. One of the issues discussed in Ruby Wax’s Mad Confessions is the idea that people are afraid to be open about their mental illness, something that would probably help them a lot, for fear of being stigmatised, of losing their friends, their jobs, their income.

Their lives.

I know exactly how they feel and this behaviour fucking disgusts me. It’s just another form of bullying. I’ve heard outspoken idiots exclaiming, loudly and proudly, that’s it’s all bollocks and that people should pull themselves together and get a job. Bullies, that’s all they are. Insecure little people with no empathy or hope. Some of the them are probably in pain themselves and don’t know how to deal with it – like people who are against homosexuality (thanks to this Morgan Freeman spoof, I try not to use the word ‘homophobic’ anymore) – but most of them, in my experience, are just fucking bullies.

This insecurity is seen in every corner of the comedy industry. We pour over our reviews, ticket sales, and internet comments to see if we’re doing better than the next guy. When someone we know (and probably claim to “like”) gets mauled by a reviewer, you wouldn’t believe the undisguised glee on some comics’ faces. Comics stab each other in the back, slag each other off in the dressing room, some even attack each other from the stage – it’s happened to me more than once – by insecure has-beens who can’t handle being upstaged and feel the need to lash out.

I try to be on my guard, to be on the lookout for these vampires and to avoid them. I’m always playing the nice guy, though. I’m always the first to shake someones hand or offer them a compliment, whatever I may say about them when they’re not around. I try to treat people right regardless of what I think of them.

Not anymore.

Too many of my real friends on the circuit have been hurt, crushed, almost destroyed by these people who do it just because they can. Sometimes it’s because they have zero social skills, sometimes it’s just because they enjoy being cunts.

To those people: the next twelve months will see a change in me. I’m starting to call you fuckers out on your bullshit. When you hurt my friends, you will deal with me. I’m hurt and I’m in pain, my nerves are shot, I can’t leave the house most days, I hide under the duvet and I dread doing gigs.

From now on, my life and my career are on my terms, not yours. I can survive without you and you better believe I will.

No longer will I shake hands with a person who’s stabbed my best friend in the back.

Trust me, if you can.

bdm x

An Open Letter to Johnnie Mountain…

I’m sorry, Johnnie…

I just watched “Ruby Wax’s Mad Confessions” – which I found very inspiring – and now I have an apology to make.

Johnnie Mountain

Johnnie Mountain

 

I remember watching “that” episode of Great British Menu and thinking that Johnnie Mountain was an arrogant tit who couldn’t take criticism. Walking out of a show because someone dared to suggest that your ideas weren’t up to scratch.

Johnnie, I am so, so fucking sorry. You will never believe how sorry I am.

I didn’t know what you were going through at the time – which excuses nothing – and I did one of the things that I despise most in other people: I judged you. I didn’t know the facts, your background or your character, and knew nothing of your struggles. Neither to I know what it must be like to work in such an esteemed establishment, maintaining that kind of quality under that kind of pressure every second of every day. I made a snap judgment which I wholeheartedly regret.

I know what you’re going through. I’ve been there myself. I opened up to some of my colleagues once and ended up unemployed. Much, much kudos to you for “coming out” to your team. That must have taken some real guts. I sincerely hope that they give you the support that I’m sure you give them and that you all find the success that you so clearly deserve.

Again, please accept my deepest, heartfelt apologies, Johnnie. I hope that you manage to find a better place.

Sincerely,

bdm

Living The Dream…

It’s three-twenty a.m.

I’m still awake.

I spent all day in bed yet it feels like weeks since I last slept.

Am I dead? I feel numb. Maybe that’s normal for this time of night. I did as much as I could to induce sleep before bed and I still couldn’t manage it. My wife has work in the morning and this isn’t helping. I’m in the kitchen, I’m tired but my mind is racing.

I’ve only just realised that for the last week I’ve been on a cycle where I’m asleep all day and all night, for two or three days. Then, maybe after sleeping away the third day, I have a sudden burst of energy and stay up all night working, writing and making plans.

I actually quite enjoying it. It’s nice here. It’s cool, it’s quiet, I have easy access to coffee and an ashtray without tramping up and down stairs, waking my wife – what more could I want? The more I think about it, the more I think that this could be living the dream: asleep all day where the fuckers can’t reach me and working all night in the cool, quiet kitchen of my home.

What the fuck am I depressed about?

Levellers…

Stephen Fry, Spike Milligan, Tony Slattery, Ruby Wax. All live, or have done, with some form of mental illness whether bi-polarity, anxiety, depression – the list goes on.

All, in my opinion, are great artists, writers, and performers. Oh! That I may one day add my name to this list of loony luminaries!

It effects us all, you see? The ones at the top get it, the ones at the bottom get it. Even those aggravating bastards in the middle get it. I have heard that even certain types of bees get it (not really). Depression, bi-polarity – there are so many – are, alongside death, cancer and a bunch of other stuff, now I come to think of it, the great levellers. They respect no age, social status, sexuality or income bracket. Whether you have a market stall in the east end or a mansion in LA, it can get to you as easily as a finger snap.

When it does, baby, you better be ready. Except you won’t be, obviously. None of us are. Most of the testimonies I’ve read echo my own: this shit creeps up on you like Sutcliffe and then…BAM!

I remember, when I was at school, using the top of a Bic Biro, the sharp bit that sticks over your shirt pocket, to cut lines in my forearms during class. During class! I drew blood, it hurt, I got something other than Jane Fucking Austen to think about. I wasn’t a self-harmer. I’d never even heard the term! Besides, it didn’t last long.

Just a phase.

Ruby Wax has created the Black Dog Tribe internet community. Check it out.

Starting out…

The worst thing about stand-up comedy is what it can do to you as a person. For the most part, people only see the public faces of the acts they see on stage. They don’t hear the bitching, the whining, and the hateful comments that go on back stage and in the car. A lot of comics car share to save petrol money and it is on these late-night tours of the service stations of Britain that they show their true colors. I’ve heard comics speak of their “best friends” on the circuit in terms I wouldn’t employ in a discussion about Ian Huntley.

When you first start, it’s exciting. You get to meet a load of cool new people, make some friends, do some traveling, and see places you wouldn’t otherwise have a reason to visit. If you’re unlucky, you’ll bump into a self-important failed comic who runs a gig above a pub and thinks that this gives him carte blanche to misunderstand what you’re trying to do, to pull your fledgling act apart, to tell you exactly where you went wrong and how to fix it, and to make you feel like shit. You watched him MC the gig and he died every time he took the microphone. You wonder why the fuck this audience put up with him.

If you’re a young comic reading this: you WILL bump into these cunts, the people who can’t do what others can do and take delight in lording it over you because they hold the keys to a twenty-seat room above a real ale pub with a wooden fucking pallet for a stage.

Hardly The Comedy Store, is it? But these gigs, and these people, are everywhere in comedy. Watch out for them and treat them for what they are. If they don’t book you? So fucking what?

At first it seems like it’s an amazing community to be part of. Everyone seems so friendly and supportive. You honestly start to believe that “we’re all in this together” and that the friends you make on the circuit know what you’re going through and have your best interests at heart.

Bullshit.

Most of them hate you.

They either hate you because you’re better than them or they love you because you’re not. Most comics are the most selfish, insecure people you could ever wish to meet, especially in the lower leagues. Sociopaths who delight in watching others fail and then damn them with faint praise. I would love to know what the people who shake my hand and hug me like a brother say about me when I’m not there. I may be depressed but I’m not fucking stupid. They don’t fool me any more.

Some people say that this par for the course. It’s called “earning your stripes”. Fuck off. These are the people who think Gordon Ramsey is a “legend”. You shouldn’t be able to make a living without being treated like shit and made to feel alone and isolated? Give me a fucking break.

You MUST guard against this. To quote Norman Stanley Fletcher, “try to remember who you once was (sic). Just keep a little bit of it intact up here.” You would not believe how easy is it to become like them. The first time you catch yourself laughing along at some poor first-timer who got ripped apart by some drunken cunt who just wanted to be the big man in front of his mates, remember this: that could have been you.

If you’re honest, it may very well have been at some point in your career. The odds are against you on this one. Remember how you felt? Standing up there looking stupid, the words catching in your throat, the sweat running down the small of your back. Remember going home and laying awake all night embarrassed, ashamed, and utterly, utterly alone? Remember the next day when you fronted it out and told your family and friends that you’d had a great gig? Remember that ice-cold feeling in the pit of your stomach even as you smiled and lied through your fucking teeth?

If you’re struggling to survive on this emotional roller-coaster and you find a fellow comic who is honest, humble, and supportive, hold on to them tight. Treat them well and allow them to treat you well in return.

There aren’t that many of you.

Welcome…

It’s hard to be funny when you can’t breathe. That may be difficult to believe but it’s true. Sometimes you walk onto the stage feeling Godlike. You’ve been here before, you know this room, these people, even if you’re a stranger in a strange land. Other times, you choke. You shake, you forget shit, you get angry with hecklers instead of dealing with them as you know you should. The lights scorch your skin and the glares of the paying audience sear into you. The other comics watch from the wings – some with concern, most with barely-contained glee. You’re dying. You’re fucked. They’ve found you out and you have nothing left. All you want to do is get off the stage, to the dressing room, to the car, back home, to safety. That’s if you turn up at all.

I’m a comic. I live with depression. I’ll tell you all about it…