THAT'S MY DEPRESSION THAT IS (It's not my depression, though it might be that of somebody else. I don't want to be a squished bird)
A week after the death of Robin Williams, just about everybody has an opinion on mental illness and what it is or isn't. Some of those people are even living with depression or anxiety, and I respect their courage for speaking out and breaking down the social taboos of being a fellow fruitcake.
So, with that in (oh-ho!) mind, I've been trying to get my thoughts together on this, but being at the bottom of a swing of anxiety and panic, it's not been easy. Because anxiety's a fucker.
So here's what depression isn't.
Depression isn't the same for everybody.
At least, I'm pretty sure of it. I only have experience of my own depression, and Jane's depression by proxy. I can't fully explain how my brain - or her brain - sometimes goes wrong, its triggers, its effects to her, its effects on me, because there are no words for some kinds of feelings. We can only give a small idea of how it rips your insides out, reduces your world to a diameter of ten feet, and tears your internal monologue to shreds.
That's the thing I hate the most about anxiety. I can't have a decent conversation with myself - the other half is reduced to random words, snippets of sentences, insane questions, unwelcome opinions and random insults - fifty per cent of me has stopped making sense, and the other half is struggling to keep up. At least the internal jukebox continues playing. The minute that stops, I'll be dead.
"Sure, I get depressed too," nobody ever said to me. How do I know what other people feel? How do I know what do to? In the words of the song by Heaven 17: "Alone but not lonely, I move on".
Depression isn't logical.
I actually got the "Why are you depressed? You've got a great job, you're recently married, you've got a family" talk last week from an actual letters-after-their-name doctor.
Obviously, depression and mental illness is not her forte, or she might not have said that, but it's something you hear a lot from people who don't know how messed up you are inside. I nodded my head, and ignored her advice, pausing only to tell everybody on sharing, caring Facebook.
Yes, I do know how lucky I am to have etc etc etc, but that's not how depression actually works. It knows no logic. All of your truths become untruths. Nothing you know as positives matter. My anxiety dismisses all that as a million things rush my brain at once.
Anxiety is overload, and it goes something like this: There's too much to do - What if I'm found out - What if I die - I'm too tired - I can't sleep - I'm no good - I love you - I hate you - You're nothing - Only three hours' sleep before the alarm goes - I'm awake - What if I'm found out - Did I lock the back door? - You're rubbish - You're doing fine - You've got 30 years left, tops - You're...
Oh yes, I'm always aware of oblivion, which is why there's always one constant: Staying alive. I'm rather attached to this body, it's the brain that could do with a hot wash and fast spin.
But you can't switch that relentless, nagging internal voice off. The drugs help, and sometimes I'm happy, and sometimes I can answer one question at a time. No logic, no pattern. You have good days, you have bad. Currently: bad, but able to pour it out onto a page that might even make sense.
So you work, you smile, you try to appear alive on the outside while war's being raged behind your eyes. Just keep that jukebox running.
Today's jukebox selection: Karl Bartos (Kraftwerk) and Andy McCluskey (OMD): Kissing the Machine