I’ve been looking to the flicks recently to take my mind off things. You know, film really is the best medium of entertainment for whatever your mood. Need some escapism? Then Michael Bay will blow some shit up and Megan Fox will tease her cleavage just enough to keep you awake. Need to confront your troubles? Then directly or indirectly there are a plethora of dramas and even romantic comedies (fuck you yes I’ve watched a bunch – Definitely, Maybe fucked me up) to emotionally guide you through your woes. Though I’ve looked to music for emotional recognition, movies have managed to be the proverbial wooden board that have kept me floating above water like selfish Rose whilst Jack floats to the bottom a stiff hero, the poor bastard.
I haven’t done much writing recently. As things have changed I’ve found it increasingly harder to put pen to paper. Even though writing is a form of escapism for me it’s actually a lot harder to create a story when there’s difficulty controlling your own circumstances. And though I can digest a romantic comedy or two, it’s actually a lot harder to write someone else’s happiness.
It seems pretty evident that a lot of artists or creative types suffer with some form of depression. I’ve been ploughing through my Woody Allen boxset and his struggles are rife in his work. He’s no stranger to introducing psychoanalysis in his work as he underwent it for some years, and a lot of Woody’s ‘shtick’ is peppered with psychoanalysis. It prompted me to conduct further research into depression and the only therapeutic outlet that seems to work is to talk about it. In my case, it’s write.
I heap a lot of pressure on myself when it comes to writing. Doing it as a 5-9 job, it feels like there is twice as much demand to produce work in order to ensure that it can become a 9-5. Juggle that with everything else that life throws at you and it can get pretty tough. I’m not looking for sympathy here; I put this on myself, I know that. But it’s something that is impossible to put down; a burning passion deep inside that is impossible to ignore. It can be a struggle most days to ensure that a good chunk of script or short story is written, a constant battle to ride the wave of writers block into the end of the scene and the start of the next. I can’t say that my struggles with writing contribute to my feelings but it certainly doesn’t help. It feels like that member of the family that is always causing drama and can never quite live a normal and peaceful life; or those recurrent issues in life that scratch away at the back, coming forward when they need to.
The reason for this post began almost as a self-assessment: write out what’s been troubling me and why in order to try and get back on the right path. As I’ve been writing and also researching it felt more appropriate to post it on my blog. There is a lot of negativity and stigma surrounding depression, yet according to the NHS one in five people will suffer from depression at some point in their lives with as many as three out of four cases being untreated or diagnosed. It is hugely important for anyone suffering with depression to talk to someone about it, and it is even more important that others who know someone suffering from depression don’t treat them any differently. It’s one thing suffering with it but it’s a whole other ball game feeling like you’re treated differently because of it. So as well as the further steps I’m taking, here it goes…
I’ve been down recently I can’t deny it any longer. I’ve felt the pressures of life and have really taken stock of just how grown up I am (supposed to be), how responsible I am for my actions and just how much I really fucking miss being a kid with no responsibilities – where the only concerns I had were homework, the right PE kit and making sure I had enough money left after playing money up the wall to buy a tip top. For the first time, events in my life have proceeded to take over my ability to write; when I have been writing, it’s been some pretty dark stuff. Don’t worry; my spare room isn’t scattered with ring-bound books bearing the unreadable scrawl of a religious mad man a la Se7en – but I have struggled to bring together my ideas and use my writing as a form of escapism from the harsh reality of some unsettling times.
I have hit the point where I find it impossible to be happy for longer than a fleeting moment. It’s hard to get to sleep at night but when I do it’s even harder to get up in the morning because it’s difficult to find a single moment during the day that can make me feel happy. Eventually I’ll rouse, helped in part by the passing of natural gas that not even I can stomach despite it being my own brand – I can thank Guinness for that. From there on out the day is filled with a lot of bumps in the road: I can distract myself at work for the most part though when my attention is re-diverted back on to myself that’s when I slump. There are fleeting moments of promise where it doesn’t seem all that bad and there’s promise ahead, but those moments are quickly scuppered by negativity that is rife in my conscious. It is a daily struggle to get through the day when it is so difficult to change your mentality when it lingers so heavily in pessimism. It’s not something that’s easy to overcome: ‘cheer up’ and ‘it’s not all that bad’ are thoughts that are deep in sentiment but are lacking any understanding of just what it is I’m going through. I’m not looking for sympathy; I’m not looking for someone to molly coddle me or pity me or treat me any differently – I just want them to understand that if I could change my mentality then trust me I would. For now I’ve just got to ride it so any distraction that can be provided is most welcome. Like I’ve said, I’ve found my escapism in film and TV but those little moments that real people can provide are an added bonus to an otherwise difficult day. The evenings are hard; I’ve always found nights difficult anyway – when I used to have panic attacks they were most prominent in the evening right before bed. I think the dark links with our primal psyche, the buried feelings of our long ago ancestors who fought to survive in Earth’s pitch black. When it comes to the evening that’s where the distraction from film and TV comes in but it’s only a brief escapism before the reality of my struggle makes itself ever known.
My life has changed irrevocably over the past year and that’s what I’ve struggled to cope with: change. Change that can’t be managed, change that ‘blindsides you on some idle Tuesday’. It is as uncontrollable as the British weather – you don’t know when it’s going to strike, but when it does you’d better be prepared to get your washing in. People have come in to my life that have made an immutable impression on my personality and my outlook on life. They have forever changed my perception for the better and throughout the shit have instilled in me a faith and a support that is felt immediately when it’s gone. Just as sure as the seasons change, so too does life’s path. When you least expect it, one moment, one tiny irrecoverable incident in time can alter a path so profoundly. You can pray to rewind or berate yourself silly but in the end, what’s done is done and what sucks the most is that everything leading up to that defining moment promised a path brighter than the Technicolor of that yellow brick road. I genuinely believe that some people are meant to enter each other’s lives at a certain point – to define it, to shape it and to ensure that it carries on. Yet the actions and sacrifices made during that definition can further define where their paths eventually divert. And that fucking hurts.
Though I know I have a while left until I’m over this slump, I’ve found small solace by making this public and I’ve taken steps to get help. Though my writing has suffered and continues to do so, I can feel that it’s coming back to how it used to be. Slowly. I have been inspired by the courage, bravery and audacity of someone’s incredible journey to turn their life around for the better. Playing a part, however small it may seem, is comforting and though circumstances have irrevocably changed what was meant to be a defining moment, that connection is everlasting and will never be forgotten. It will continue to inspire me and encourage me to ensure that in the long run my dark days don’t outweigh the good ones.
So don’t be afraid to find someone to talk to if you’re feeling down. They say a problem shared is a problem halved, but more importantly it’s about realising that you’re not alone and there’s help available.