I’ve just done a couple of those on-line depression tests just to see how I was getting on. In my world, this is just a bit of harmless fun – I am not joking or extracting the Michael – because I have been doing these tests and screenings for years. After a recent dip, which was made far worse by some clunking interventions by people who really should know better, especially given who they work for, I’m feeling better, or as I like to put it, not as bad as I was. When people ask out of politeness, “How are you?” they are not expecting a lengthy response such as, “Well, actually my GP has doubled the dose of my anti-depressants and I feel shit”. My normal reply is, “Yeah, good thanks.” It’s only when I have to really think and I end up mumbling something like, “You don’t want to know.”
I’m at the “Yeah, good thanks” stage because it’s what comes naturally from my mouth. I’m coping much better than I was a few weeks ago, my sleep patterns are all over the place – I still keep waking up in the middle of the night with my head spinning and whirring and refusing to shut down – yet I don’t feel in the worst place. So, I took the on-line test and it said: “Your Score: Severe Depression. Your answers suggest you are suffering from severe depression. It is important that you schedule an appointment with your doctor or a mental health worker now.” Well, thanks for that. You’ve cheered me up no end.
If these were the results of my mental health jury (it’s Eurovision week so I thought I might as well join in the fun) at a relatively good time, I dread to think what the results would have been like during a bad time. “Your Score: You need sectioning. Pick up the nearest straitjacket and hand yourself in to the nearest mental health facility”. There were times when I felt like doing just that.
It’s Mental Health Awareness week and as far as I am concerned it might as well be Mental Health Unawareness Week. Try as I might, I feel like I am beating my head against a brick wall. No matter how many times I tell people how the black dog affects me – in my case, an inability to retain information or a tendency to forget stuff, a head that feels stuffed full of papier mache, uncontrolled and unexplainable mood swings, tiredness; quite a lot of things, actually – I know I am wasting my breath. “Please don’t burden me with too much information all at once, just let me get on with things at my own pace. I’ll get there” must come out as if I am talking backwards.
There is plenty of media coverage of this important week and I’d like to think that employers are taking it very seriously. I know some people might find this hard to believe, but actually us mental cases do not enjoy the feeling. If I foul something up, or repeatedly ask for instructions to do the same thing, I am not trying to wind up the person trying to assist me. “I told you how to do this weeks ago.” How many times can you reply, “Yes, you probably did. But I’m ill.” I don’t say it at all anymore because in some places mental health is regarded as being a bit fed up, leading to the Piers Morgan “Man up!” advice for sufferers.
My on-line advice is far better than advice I’ve had from anywhere else lately: “It is important that you schedule an appointment with your doctor or a mental health worker now.” I’d recommend that advice to anyone who thinks they might be going through a little mental illness. I’ve known too many people throughout my life who started off with a little depression and ended up with a lot of it, leading to a situations where friends and acquaintances have, seemingly without warning, taken their own lives.
So, how am I today? Not as well as I think I am but not as bad as I could be. It’s only severe depression. What if I was really ill?