Not just a case of the blues

Recently, I have noticed some of the warning signs that I might be heading for a thrilling return trip to the land of clinical depression.  So this weekend, one of my fun jobs has been to speak to various people I am close to, a support network if you will, and warn them.  It’s never a fun journey, either for me or those who accompany me on the road, so I hope I’m mistaken.

Come to think of it, a return trip is a fairly inaccurate description to use, as it is an illness which doesn’t tend to leave me completely, but bubbles away in the background.  Most of the time, though, I can deal with any minor symptoms that rear their ugly heads and just get on with my life.  The drugs aren’t worth the side-effects and psychotherapy has never helped, so I’d rather not have to seek medical advice about it ever again.

Clinical depression is a widely misunderstood condition, and I have spent quite some time over the last couple of days trying to write a useful, interesting post which could help others understand it.  No joy,I’m afraid, so poetry will have to suffice.  One of my poems on the subject can be found on-line already: The Flame.  The poem that follows is a less polished reaction, written during the Christmas vacation in 1998:

Tears come unbidden
Hidden fears rise
Confusion rears its head
as darkness moves in

All sense departs
Control is lost
Of emotion
Of thought
Of action

Sanity fights a losing battle
Joy and peace lie submerged
with personality

But life stays afloat
Spirit survives
In the safest of hands, I can never be lost

It’s interesting that this is the most optimistic diary entry from that time.  The rest are in prose, and are far less positive.  I’m also intrigued by that lone comma.  I don’t know if the poems or the post are at all enlightening for anyone, and I hope this hasn’t scared any of the readers of this blog who know me in the outside world.  I’ll be fine, but if I look or act more ‘down’ than usual, please don’t tell me to cheer up, or I may have to kill you.

    • Claire
    • July 16th, 2006

    Hello, don’t worry, I’m not scared. I did suspect (sorry!). A couple of close relatives, including my brother, have had clinical depression in the past, so it’s something I’m familiar with, although I know that’s not the same as experiencing it myself. Is asking how you are allowed? I don’t want to be killed!

    Lovely poetry.


    P.S. Pilgermann sounds intriguing – would I be able to borrow it sometime?

  1. It’s often refreshing to find out I’m not the only weirdo out there. 😉

    Not making light of your situation, David, just letting you know that ‘weirdos’ are quite frequent and welcome in my life, being one myself. I don’t know a lot about depression (I tend to be on the other side of the coin – chronic anxiety/panic attacks) but I’m not totally unfamiliar with it.

    In general, it seems that emotional/mental illnesses are not so easy to pidgeon-hole as physical ones, so it’s probably a mistake to even try to do this. There’s no one-size-fits-all treatment, though we’re often led to believe this.

    So, will you be taking this trip on your own or are you going to be giving travelogues here? *hug*

  2. Wouldn’t dream of telling you to cheer up – though the thing that switches on the Must Kill Insensitive Git Right Now button for me is people adding ‘It might never happen’. (And I would answer through clenched teeth ‘It has already happened’. I too have been badly depressed a couple of times). You’re a brave man and I am glad you have a support network. I’ll be thinking of you.

    • Teuchter
    • July 20th, 2006

    Hope it’s a short trip this time. Sorry I can’t do anything except listen/read and be another ‘shoulder’, should you need one.

    I’ve had a few bouts of mild depression – and recognised a lot of those feelings from your poem.

    Winston Churchill had many episodes of depression – which he referred to as his Black Dog.

    I hope yours goes back to its kennel soon.

  3. Thanks, people. 🙂

    It is encouraging that incredible people like Churchill, plus a lot of very talented people and many friendly real people have suffered with mental illnesses. Although they can be stigmatised, it is pretty hard to argue with a condition that one of our great leaders struggled with!

  4. Big hug, David. Hang in there.

    • Teuchter
    • August 16th, 2006

    Just wondering how you’re feeling these days? :hug:

  5. Better than I was. I think a healthy dose of singing followed by my sister’s beaming face at the wedding has helped. Less randomly tearful moments than I was having, which is definitely a good thing.  Thanks for asking.  🙂

  6. I’m glad :hug:

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