Well, that was an unexpected collapse into yesterday. It was as if all the months of therapy had been worthless. Of course, they were far from worthless but I managed to forget about the one truth I know about my black dog. I need to learn to manage him because he’s never going to leave me. And there’s another thing I forgot: prepare myself better.
The preparedness matters to me. I found that out for the first time, believe it or not, in 2011 when I flew to Canada for my dad’s funeral. I just assumed I would pack my bag, get a bus to Heathrow, fly to Ottawa, attend the funeral and then fly back again. It was more complicated than that. I had not thought about checking in at the airport and being asked the purpose of my journey. Cue meltdown, unstoppable tears, out and out blubbing. The same thing in the departure lounge. And then sitting down in my seat. I vowed there and then to think things through. I did for the subsequent days and for the funeral itself. I never cried again, at least not about my dad’s death.
I knew I wasn’t ‘cured’ after my recent therapy. My mood had lightened considerably by the end. It had been cathartic as well as therapeutic. I learned and relearned techniques. If I went downhill again, I would know how to deal with it. Yet, when I went down very quickly, I was flailing around in panic. My sleep was ravaged to the extent that I was wide awake in bed and exhausted in the afternoon. I just lost it. There were times, I will be honest, when it got to a point where I seriously considered the Samaritans. Not for long, though.
And here’s a thing. Despite everything, I still managed to function in my professional life to the extent that I switched on when it mattered. There was no deterioration in the quality of my work. If I was so “emotionally weak” as the occupational health officer of a certain former employer concluded, then how come I found inner strength for others when I had virtually none for myself?
This depression malarkey is bonkers. Imagine being aware of when it’s coming and feeling it drag you down? Only a true nut job like me would know that feeling. And how could I go out for a few beers, or laugh and joke with friends and family? My partner is the key player in all this because without her I am sure I would be dead. I think I have a certain survivor’s instinct, too.
I’m showing off a bit, here. I have tried never to let anyone down when I was feeling terrible, at work and in leisure. The last couple of years have been terrible at times and my social life and my sporting life, well golf, has disintegrated. I’ve become a hermit, I’ve not looked after myself. That has to change but first I have to want it to.
Change is coming in a number of areas of my life. It has to. Some I want to, some I don’t want to, some I need to. This has been a horrible few days and I just want to go to bed and stay there until things aren’t horrible. That’s no good, though. Because if I go to bed, I’ll just lie there fretting. Change is coming and in some instances it’s major, hopefully life-changing stuff. And change is massive for me because in the last year I have stood still.
I don’t know if the world is my lobster, as Arthur Daley put it. Next year, I hope to find out.