I know the media, the government and various bodies have made something of an effort to normalise mental health and to bring it “out of the closet” but I still think there is an awfully long way to go, so I have decided to do my bit.
I have wanted to write this post for some time, but have never known how. This afternoon an idea came into my head – rather than generalise (which is always difficult because my mood changes from one day to the next), I will just describe to you what’s going on in what passes for my brain right now.
I am in bed. I got into bed at 2 in the morning (having spent a couple of hours watching rubbish on the TV). I then spent an hour or so playing a game on my phone and trying to do a su doku, stopping only when I found myself falling asleep.
This is a typical routine for me. I rarely get to sleep before 3 am. Today, I woke up around noon. I spent the next couple of hours looking at Twitter and Facebook and reading those pathetically pointless lists they publish on the net – 15 amazingly timed photos; the 20 worst tattoos ever.
The phone rang around 2 but I didn’t answer it – I had no desire to talk to anyone at all. In case you were wondering, I’m still in bed.
By that time, I’d realised it’s Thursday and my heart sank. I have a cleaner who comes on Thursday afternoons. I now have a dilemma. My kitchen/TV room are always in a bit of a state by Thursday, as I have no reason to keep them tidy once the boys have gone to their Mum’s on Monday.
But I hate for the cleaner to see what a slob I am. Now I have a dilemma. Do I get up so I can tidy up before she gets here? But I run the risk of seeing her (which is definitely the last thing I want today). By the time I’ve mulled that over (and been distracted by another thread about antisemites demonstrating outside Downing Street) it’s too late. I can hear she’s arrived.
So now I’ve no choice. I’m getting a bit hungry, but I can’t get out of bed now. She’ll hear me. On the other hand, I want to make just enough noise so she does hear me. The very last thing I want is for her to come into my bedroom!
So I’m lying here, embarrassed at the shit she sees in my kitchen (mostly empty crisp packets and coke cans), fretting that she will realise I’m here (what will she think?) and that she won’t realise I’m here (please no) and worst of all that I’ll have to make conversation with her (she’ll ask me how I am and I’ll smile and say “fine! How are you?”)
The one saving grace is that her English is appalling so even though she also cleans my Mum’s flat, I know she won’t be able to tell her what a state I’m living in.
Now comes the worst bit. She’s done the noisy bits. She finishes with the silent tasks of washing the hall and kitchen floor. I’m half deaf anyway, so I can never tell when she’s gone. I’d really like to get up and have something to eat and drink, but I can’t until I’m sure she’s gone. I’ll probably wait til it’s dark.
In the meantime, all of this mindless activity (the surfing and the worrying about the cleaner) has helped me avoid thinking about what really matters.
I’m probably about to lose my job. I’ve got a great job. It’s perfect really, but I’ve thrown it away because I can’t get myself out of this funk.
I need to get to the post office today as I have two cards to post to America that need to be there by Monday.
My boys are here for the weekend so I need to go shopping for food – thank G-d Tesco is open all night so I can go at about midnight. That way I won’t see anyone.
I had a panic attack in Tesco a few weeks ago. At peak time. That was a blast and a half I can tell you!
It’s Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) on Monday and Tuesday. My Mum and Sister are coming to stay which is great but I’ve got to think about cooking too. And rearranging the beds. Where will they sleep?
Normally, I really look forward to the High Holy Days. I’m a committed Jew and I find the services spiritually uplifting. Not this year. This year I anticipate them with dread. All those people. All that hypocrisy (not least from me).
Like everything else, I’ve been avoiding shul (synagogue) over the past year or so. At this time of year we Jews are meant to evaluate the year just ending and repent for our sins. And let me tell you, I’ve got a tonne of crap to repent.
In this last year, I have
- been a shit friend. I’ve had friends who have had hard times and simply not been there. I’ve wallowed in my own misery rather than reach out to them.
- Been a shit son and brother. My Mum and Sister are wonderful and have done all they can to be there for me. I’ve repaid them by being surly, moody, mean and failing in the simplest things. I don’t think I bought either of them a birthday present this year.
- Being a shit Jew. As I say, I’ve avoided going to shul this year. Shabbat has ended in my home. I barely even light the candles any more. I just see it as a day when I have an excuse not to leave the house (driving is forbidden) or answer the phone (use of electronic devices is forbidden, although of course my strict application of that law falls aside when it comes to use of the TV or laptops!)
- Been a dreadful parent. I won’t go into it here, just trust me. I have. My boys are fantastic but that’s really despite me. Also see “being a shit Jew” above.
- Been an appalling employee. I don’t know how many days of productive work I’ve put in this year, but doubt it’s more than 30. I’m amazed it’s taken this long for them to get rid of me.
- Made absolutely no progress at finding a way out of the hole I’m in. Oh I’ve done what I can. I’ve seen psychiatrists, therapists, attended group sessions at the Priory, taken the meds… but I haven’t got anywhere at all.
- Been extremely mean to myself. I’ve put on about 2 stone in weight, done zero exercise and it shows.
- Er… that’s it.
Now having attended all those sessions, I know that one of the things about depression is that one is excessively critical of oneself. So maybe I’m giving myself too much of a bad report here, but I also pride myself on my logical mind and frankly I don’t really see anything in that list that is exaggerated at all.
In the meantime, I tell myself I need companionship and intimacy. And yes, I do. I miss that dreadfully, especially whenever I see a happy couple or a romantic scene on TV. But there’s a catch and I see no way out.
I feel (and look) awful. I have been depressed for practically 3 years. I’m about to become unemployed. Not much of a profile for JDate or match.com, is it?
So. There you go.
I haven’t sugared any pills. I’ve told you what’s going through my head right now.
Please note this is NOT a cry for help. I don’t expect people to “rally round” and I definitely don’t want anyone to feel in any way guilty. People (some friends, my boys, my ex and my family) have been more than supportive and I am grateful to them for not simply forgetting my existence as I have forgotten theirs.
But if someone reads this and gains a slightly clearer understanding of what it’s like inside the head of a depressed person, then I’m glad I wrote this post.
It’s 17.38 and I haven’t heard the cleaner for a while. I might sneak downstairs and have breakfast.