The thing about depression (& anxiety – the two go hand in hand for me) is that it is supremely isolating because of its basic internalisation of life.
I was out in that London this weekend and we did a busy museum exhibition, the tube, eating and drinking in pubs, shops n trains. At one point in my life this would have seemed impossible to imagine. Some of you who recall the epic Liverpool mingle and its Beatlesque tour the next day guided by the great Paddy Hoey will probably not have noticed but I was pretty much unable to eat, drink or communicate most of the day – so hard it was to keep myself from collapsing from the fear, panic and sadness that was coming at me in waves. In a room full of friends it can be lonely as hell.
However shortly after bidding my pals bon voyage on Saturday I found myself on a train about to depart from Paddington – wrecked with panic, throat tight, breathing shallow – willing myself to resist the urge to bolt for the door and the sweet fresh air. Knowing full well that if I did I would instantly feel better but curse myself as the train pulled away and would repeat the process again on the next homebound departure. Or the one after that. To stop myself I used the train app to find out the gap between stops and gave my brain escape routes if it all became too much. Even before the first stop and possible escape arrived I was over the worst and, if you’ll pardon the pun, home free.
Knowing that the anxiety and depression are just thoughts and feelings which will pass, CBT 101, are often no use with a brain that is irrational and afraid. Sometimes even having those closest to you doesn’t stop you want to jump in front of that train or call that ambulance when that panic attack is at its zenith.
At the moment, I feel trapped, isolated and envious of the subjects of The Undateables. I treasure every friend, savour everyone I meet but life still feels incredibly bleak and empty. The impression of a life forgotten and unmarked is so strong on my worst days.
The front I put up is sometimes to hide the depression but that makes it sound like I’m just pasting n a fake smile to plow on through which is not the case. The front is like an armour to give me confidence and see off any imagined peril. The downside being it acts like a wall and people often take that as disinterest, boredom or dislike. That wall is pretty hard for anyone to get over and many unsurprisingly don’t care to put in the effort.
Any suggestion that writing about this means that I am a passive pill popping emotional cripple incapable of bettering my situation is bullshit. I have worked damn hard to improve myself and my lot. I don’t do any drugs, smoke or drink – would I be more content if I did? – am I any better because I don’t? There is no easy fix, no one thing works for all people.
Advice is pretty much worthless but depression, anxiety and mental health is a vicious invisible killer of hundreds of thousands of people each year in the UK and that should be recognised.