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Not the Me That I Want You to See


“FACT: 98.5% more enjoyable than depression.”

I have no words of wit or scathing biro-stabbing wisdom this week so I shall try a spot of honesty. It will probably come back to haunt me, but it seems everyone else out there has written one of these, so here’s mine.

I don’t feel very well right now. You wouldn’t think there was anything wrong with me if you were to look at me; I still have a snarl of red lipstick and a click-click of high heels as well as the inimitable spritz of Chanel No. 5. I also have all my limbs and vital organs exactly where they should be, but I don’t feel very well. In fact, to say “I don’t feel very well” is a gross understatement but it serves to fend off polite enquiries as to why I am not myself right now, without ensnaring myself in a  complicated weft of lies, or further pokings of nosy noses.

I have depression. It isn’t the first time and I dare say it will not be the last. Ever since childhood, I have had recurrent bouts of it for no tangible reason – I can’t even blame the abominable existence of TOWIE or Crocs – it just is what it is. I have had therapies, counselling, tests, medication, herbal tea and sympathy, and while it goes away after a time, fairly soon it rears its ugly head and descends like a thick fog again, leaving me almost catatonic with melancholy and morbidity. I’ve been lucky to have a couple of years mostly free of feeling its choking grip, but now, like a mask-wearing, blood spattered horror cliché, it’s back.

Most people don’t know there is this side to me, and why should they? This is not all that I am and it is not the me that I want you to see. I am all the things people know; the jokes, the laughter, the exuberant foolery, but I am also this. I have never spoken openly about it before as it carries a stigma and welcomes judgement from those who don’t understand, from those who try to quantify it and propose that looking “on the bright side” will clear it all up. Thanks for that, bright siders, but that’s like telling a diabetic not to be so hard on Haribo. I am that humorous, vivacious person still, but I am also this. Sadly, at the moment, “this” has taken over.

I don’t really need to harp on about how it feels to be depressed, you can read all about it on various healthcare sites and unless you’ve personally stared into that abyss, you will never truly understand (you can try, but I think it would be more fun to take up sky diving or learn a language). Someone once put it to me better than I could; they said that it feels “blurry, sore, insipid and dead, that you don’t think you will ever be able to feel rich, vivid, fun and vital again, that everything is vacuous and pointless”. These are good words indeed, but at the moment I would just say that existing hurts so much, I wish a strong gust of wind would disintegrate me and carry me off as a cloud of dust so that I wouldn’t “be” any more.

I have become rather good at spotting the signs of this bleak demon creeping up, almost as well as I can spot the signs of a commuter getting ready to vacate a seat on a packed train – in both instances, it pays to pounce. I have had to admit defeat and faced the difficult decision to go to my GP, where I spent my allotted 2 minutes weeping, as I faced the probing questions and patronising suggestions of “going for a walk” (not always helpful to suggest to someone who feels like “walking” in front of a bus) and the humiliating review of my back-catalogue of mental health. N.b. Don’t worry, I wouldn’t really throw myself under a bus, buses are vile – anything but a bus.

Yet again I have had to swallow my pride along with a pill, because as much as I don’t want to be one of “those” people, the very cruel nature of depression is that it robs you of the ability to do the very things that will help stave it off. Right now, I can barely speak, I can’t stand music or laughter, can’t joke, I don’t want to go to the places I enjoy (merely getting out of bed involves tears – more so than normal), can’t do the things that lift me and I don’t want to be around the people who love me most. I want to give up on trying, to give up on hoping. As I have no ‘forward, back, up, forward, up, down’ cheat code, I think pills are a fairly good alternative.

I don’t need sympathy, I don’t need pity (dear god, not the pity. That’s almost as bad as the bright siders), I don’t need solutions or flowers (ok, flowers might be nice, but not bloody lilies. People always give me lilies, like they’re pre-empting something), I need normality. I need the world to carry on turning and for people to carry on teasing and joking and sending me emails regarding their bowel movements (you know who you are) and perhaps a smidge of allowance for my not being the me that I want you to see. After all, I’m not a two-headed, Croc-wearing psychopathic circus freak, I just don’t feel very well right now.

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