If you can’t find your smokey feet and get down to one of the finest hip hop classic, original rump shakers of all time, you must be dead…or worse, depressed.
Dancing—like exercise, like baking, like sex, like laughing and breathing are all good for you, so they say, during a bout of depression. But, during a bout of depression, cross fit, cake-making, coitus, creasing and keeping conscious feel as effortless as finding the Pope in an Orange Lodge banging a big drum.
That’s the thing about both long and short term dispiritedness—you’ve got to pay to play. And the currency often feels like a hefty one. Professionally, there’s that weighty stigma, the man-up-big-boys-(and-lassies)-don’t-cry inner hoedown cum emotional showdown of sharing with your boss and colleagues the black windmills of your mind. How do you explain your day sometimes feels like a game of Mouse Trap with the escape pieces missing? Not always, but sometimes.
Socially, telling pals you feel it’s nuts to the guts with dread every time you get invited to a party doesn’t trip off the tongue as easily as that leaflet in the GP surgery promised. And what if parents put you on suicide watch and let their worry slip to the neighbours should you divulge all in the family home? Whose line is it anyway to tell the street it’s, oh aye, not always, but sometimes.
And sometimes is more than enough for anyone.
Depression has plagued me from an early age. I didn’t call it that at 13. The word itself sounded heavy clinical and one far off in an adult world. I was sad, lonely, pissed aff. But sad and lonely and pissed aff enough to take my school tie and wrap one end around the banister of my childhood home, the other noose-style around my neck.
The tie snapped in its middle from the weight of my 13-year-old form—as diminutive as it was. I sat at the foot of the stairs with a pinched, bruised neck, my inner shock so frenzied it couldn’t have been more jolted had I stuck my tongue on a live pylon. The fallout out of my trembling teenage mind decided, rationally, that it just ‘wasn’t my time.’
Six years later I acquired an amphetamine addiction while royally fucking up my further education. Speed is highly addictive and a precursor for psychosis if abused everyday, that I can testify to. In one week, I’d written a movie and soundtrack in my head, not spoken to anyone, opened the curtains nor ventured outside—all on a diet of four chocolate digestives and copious tumblers of Sunny Delight. Sometime not long after the weekly supply of base had ran out along with the student grant, I fell into the depths of psychological cold turkey.
It took about a year later to tie my second noose, a year of disseminating from anything connected to that emotion calling itself happiness, and the real world. The Dunblane Massacre happened and I didn’t bat an eyelid to the atrocity of an event so truly horrific it remains Scotland’s saddest day in modern times. That’s where it was at—the wee window above my bedroom door panned in to make way for a rope, such had my thoughts became not sometimes, but always.
As the bind got tighter, the only true thing that saved me was the heart-wrenching thought of my mum walking through the front door to find me dead, hanging from the bedroom panel of her home. The bowels of my own emotional pain didn’t go as deep as the pain I knew I’d leave behind. It is that which often, literally, saves many lives.
Relationships yield the highest tariff. Jobs, colleagues, friends and even parents’ neighbours come and go, but getting close to someone in that every way we humans find possible is the most beautifully, insane double-edged sword doing the rounds for a person prone to or beset with mental health issues.
On reflection, my illness is partial to the reason I lost the love of my life. To be at the zenith of your emotional happiness and still find your mind in the nadir of its despair is hard to reconcile. I wasn’t open enough about my unsettledom, agoraphobia, social anxiety—even in the glorious company of friends—and all the other collated little demons that left me struggling to get out of bed on more mornings than were healthy. To know my soulmate chose to give up on me while I held more loyal to my mute struggle is more unbearable than the grief felt at the passing of my father and all the other tough life lessons I’ve accumulated.
Nowadays, our emotional response to what can tip stress and emotional despair are so entwined with our digital lives. Someone deleted you on Tinder after a full fortnight of saucy chat? Boom, a day spent under the covers with only a jumbo pack of Sainsbury’s chilli nuts and a glass bottle of flat Irn-Bru for sustenance. Innocently checked your bank balance on the work computer at lunch a week away from payday to find you’re a ton short of the rent due in three days? Midday meltdown and straight to the pub by 5.07pm. Flippant but true.
The internet was/is/and perhaps deemed for all our futures as the shining light in our pursuit of instant gratification of info. Never having to lie awake at 3am nor having to phone a friend to ask the name of the actor who played Thingy-Ma-Bob in that movie What-Ji-Ma-Call-It was meant to be all worth the old dial-up charge alone. But the info super autobahn doesn’t half mess with our mental state in the vicinity of a day that started off in calmness.
Ever wanted to test your mental health levels in tow with your online addiction? Just look at GIFs of bouncing newborn babies on your Facebook feed and if you’re hissing at the amount of likes and comments they’re piling up, it’s time to take some flight of action, rather than fancy.
Personally I don’t know what the outright cure is for depression, mostly because I’ve yet to find it. Telling your mental health problems tale is much like coming out—every story is different and unearthed from a place of both light and inescapable shade. By the same token, every ‘remedy’ is unique too in whatever is chosen in its combat. What is essential is that we keep talking. There’s a 13-year-old kid whose school tie might not snap today, or a desperate 50-year-old whose tears no one saw are left on the tracks of a rush hour trainline, along with the rest of him.
Among the pain, a problem shared is a problem halved is about the best advice I have, boiled down. Yes life can be an absolute c***, but the thing about depression and suicidal thoughts is while you can’t pull your socks up for effect, there is someone there, be it a friend, family member, partner or professional—not always forever, but always.
Nae diggity, nae doubt.