Thursday, 15 January 2015

Dating and Depression

If there is one thing that I know it's this - dating and depression don't go. First of all, when you are in the midst of low time, it feels like nothing is hopeful. The thought of meeting a random person and chatting about yourself is inconceivable. Secondly, when you are in a better place it's just the thing to tip you up or down. Somehow I've found myself still doing it.

It used to be the 'thing' that I didn't have - a boyfriend who loved me and would make everything meaningful. I waited for a glance across the room that would change my life, the moment that you see in the movies. I'm old enough now to know that's pretty unlikely - more importantly I know fixating on someone else is never going to solve anything. You can only have someone in your life if they are enhancing what you already have - for me that's a great job, amazing friends and family, real loves (books, music, travel) and a sense of adventure.

I'm dating and yes it can be fun - but sometimes I walk away thinking 'Is this what love feels like?'. A great emptiness swells in my belly.

But still, I continue.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

How it feels: An Average Day

I wrote this when I was very low. I hope it might help to explain how depression feels, at least to me. 

I sat by the pond today. I say pond where others might say lake; to me the pool of grey water, dappled with long grasses and framed by ragged green, only had the stature of a pond. Ducks traversed in the water, sending out smooth circles of movement. Their slick feathers were dark grey, tinged with black tips. In the air there was ripples of chatter. Stones poked up through the pond, although in parts there was only water. I imagined putting my hand down into the murky water, diving down into the thick mud - stones and weeds underneath. On the surface it reflected a fiercely blue sky, no clouds to break up the colour.

A free day. I had nothing to do. I sat by the pond alone, without direction. A pretty day; the sun warm on my ankles, a fresh breeze colouring my cheeks. Emptiness rattled around inside me, a pinball bouncing off my sides. I thought about all the things I could be doing, better things, more normal things, things that would make me whole. I thought about reading again, filling myself up with something. I thought about writing again, pouring myself out. I only sat. I watched a small, scruffy duck turn on its side, flipping its head beneath the water. I looked up at the sky. I looked at the time. I dug my fingers into the grass beneath me. I think, I think, I thought, I am, I am not, I think, I think, I thought, I wish I was, I wasn’t, I can, I can’t, I think, I think, I thought, I try, I’m trying. I think, I think, I thought, I feel hopeless - I hope. There is nothing here.  I am doing nothing. I am less than nothing, a negative force. It pulls inward, it tugs at me and I struggle.

This is it: the way I treat myself. Treat. It happens all the time now and I’m not sure why, or I am, or I could be, or I’m not. It’s just how I am. How I have always been.

I let that nothingness coil carefully around me. I block myself in, thought on top of thought balanced like heavy bricks. I don’t have the energy to push them.  

Today I sat by the pond and watched the ducks. How about you?

Thursday, 1 January 2015

How to cope: Talk About It

Happy New Year! It's the first of January and I feel positive. Not because I want to write off last year, it was challenging and important. I'm also old enough to know that 'fresh starts' are a false promise. You have to acknowledge the past and make peace with mistakes. Last year it was the biggest hurdle for me. I feel like I am almost there. 

Mostly I feel positive because I am with my lovely friends and I just had an inadvertent conversation about depression. Talking is so important and cathartic, I spent years storing it all up and I know now that is the worst thing to do. Even if you think they don't understand the illness don't be afraid to confide in someone. It's the biggest and most important release.