I blame the Huge Lorry. This one. It was the interview he gave when he said that he first realised that he was depressed when he was spending a day stock-car racing and realised that, while everyone else was excited, he was bored. He also said that he didn’t look forward to the future. Having a medical background, he recognised the symptoms and promptly checked himself in with a psychotherapist.
‘Nonsense’, I thought. ‘Stock-car racing, how pointless, I’d be bored too and I can’t even bear to contemplate the future, and I’m not depressed…. Oh.”
I worried about it after that. My mind dwelt on it, and I wished I hadn’t read the article. I concluded that I didn’t know whether I would be diagnosed as depressed or not (looking back, I would have been, but that doesn’t mean I’d have been any the better for such a description), but I didn’t see that it mattered, as I was quite happy in my pessimism, I felt safer if I lived in the present, neither looking forward nor back, and I couldn’t be bothered to talk about it with a stranger. I’d talked things through with family and friends and I’d rather just get on with what I had to do and not make a fuss, because the thought of that was stressful in itself.
What I did do was make sure I enjoyed every little thing that I could. Although I didn’t, for quite some years, care at all if I lived or died, I might as well take pleasure in things while I was here. And I made every effort not to become upset by small problems, although I found this very hard for a long time. Anything at all – or sometimes nothing at all – might send me into a feeling of misery and despair that would last for several days. I never told anyone as I could function quite well and the men I lived with were not particularly observant or intuitive and were not likely to notice if I was quiet and distant for a bit.
What put me right was time and being very kind to myself. Now, my feelings were caused by events and general stress. I’m not depressive by nature and I don’t suffer from a depressive illness. I’m not suggesting for one minute that other people, necessarily, would or should cope as I did. I’m talking about me and me only and, as I said yesterday, I had a lot of support and a generally happy family life which gave me every opportunity to recover from the feelings that had taken quite some years to build up.
What I would not have done, by the way, was take on an acting role as a depressed maverick, addicted to painkillers, with an abrasive personality. That would have made me worse. Being frivolous, cheerful and hooting with laughter every time a chap pinched my bum did me much more good in the long run. So, also, was doing quite a lot of voluntary work. It made me focus on others and not feel sorry for myself.
I’ve been fine for nearly two years. I can contemplate old age and no longer want to not reach it. I can be upset, indignant, angry, though I’m none of these things all that often because I am so … oh gosh, hostage to fortune alert … happy. I know of course that all good things could come to an end this very minute, but that makes me all the keener to appreciate them while I have them.
This was meant to be a precursor to another post, but it became too long. I also think I’ve said too much about myself, but there we go.