Depression in the present tense

Hi gang! I wasn’t sure whether to post this. It’s basically an account of a bad day in the life of someone who suffers from depression. If you don’t want to come to my pity party then don’t read it. Doesn’t make any difference to me.

Mostly the days when I write blog posts are the days when I am feeling pretty good, when I can get out of bed, have a shower and manage to string two sentences together. You guys don’t get to see the horrible bad days where the storm clouds roll in and the sky gets dark and everything seems no good. Today was one of those days, one of the worst I’ve had in a little while. It definitely wasn’t the worst I’ve ever had – I even managed to make it out of the house and meet some friends – but it was pretty bad. I don’t want to put a massive downer on you all, but I have been amazed by some of the conversations that I have had with some of you and just how similar our experiences have been. I have realised that it’s not just me who goes cry running or who experiences periods of euphoric joy following low periods. You have all helped me to understand that I am not alone and that I am not as crazy as I might feel sometimes. Maybe some of you will recognise yourselves in this post and it will help you too. Maybe you have never experienced mental health issues in your life, in which case this might help you to understand a bit better the daily battle we go through to even complete the most simple tasks.

Somebody sent me this link the other day about how important it is to talk about mental illness in the present tense (was it you @IHStreet?) as something that we are currently experiencing and recovering from. It seems that many people, even famous people, are coming out and saying “I was depressed for a while a couple of years ago.” While this is somewhat helpful in showing that it possible to recover and get on with life, it is of little use to with those of us who are living with mental illness day to day. This culture of openness and honesty about mental health that we need so badly is one where we are able to say “today is a bad day” and talk about out mental health as we are experiencing it now, in the present. So here it is. Today is a bad day.

(Here’s the link: http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2013/10/29/241585887/present-tense-allie-brosh-donald-glover-and-hurting-right-now)

DSCF1252(Here is a moody picture of some Irn Bru to set the scene)

8 am: Woke up. Felt  sad. Tried to decide what to do with the day.

8.30 am: Husband brought me a cup of tea, which I forgot to drink. Stared at the wall.

9 am: Husband left for work. Felt lonely and sad. Had a little cry.

9.30 am: Made my hand be an ostrich for a while (Stop judging me. You do mad stuff too!) Conversation with my ostrich-hand went something a bit like this:

Ostrich-hand: What are you going to do today?

Me: Dunno

Ostrich-hand: Are you going to get up? Are you going to write that blog post?

Me: Doubt it. What’s the point?

Ostrich-hand: You’re really pathetic, you know that.

Me: Yes Ostrich, I know that. There’s nothing good about me.

Ostrich-hand: I should peck you, you know.

Me: Yes Ostrich, I know. You can peck me, I don’t care. It won’t make any difference.

(Note: Ostrich-hand did not peck me because it was just my hand all along and it would be silly to peck myself.)

10 am: Got up because I had to pee. Not going to lie, if I hadn’t needed to to pee, I would have stayed in bed because nothing is worth getting up for. Made a cup of tea and built a blanket-nest on the sofa. Tried to write a super-awesome blog post about whether academia is an depressogenic environment but mostly just stared blankly into space.

10.30 am: Grudgingly ate some cereal. Decided that a teen coming-of-age film would make me feel better. Watched Teen Witch. Cried because Brad loved her for who she was.

11.30 am: Decided another teen coming-of-age film would cheer me up. Wached Wild Child, starring every actor from British television. I see you there girl from Merlin, Welsh girl from Fresh Meat, other girl from Fresh Meat and Jess from Waterloo Road. Cried because Poppy’s mum was dead and she went to the same school and they won the hockey tournament and her Dad cried because she looked so much like her Mum.

1 pm: Decided another teen coming-of-age film would make me feel better. Watched The Perfect Man. Cried a lot because Hilary Duff’s mum had no self esteem but she tried so hard for her kids. What is with all of these single parent families?

2.30 pm: Realised I had to get in the shower before I could go out for coffee with my friends from work. Had a cry in the shower because I felt sad and pathetic.

2.45 pm: Had a tiny melt down because I couldn’t face deciding what to wear.

3.15 pm: Pulled myself together and put on my ‘normal person face’. (For those of you to whom this is a foreign concept, ‘normal person face’ is when somebody who feels sad inside keeps all of that sad on the inside to allow them to go out in public and successfully interact with other people. In this fashion, we can get by in daily life without it being to obvious that inside we are sad and empty. ‘Normal person face’ is useful but also draining. May also be known as game face.)

3.40ish pm: Met my friends for coffee and actually had a lovely time, despite the really strange man who was staring at us.

4.30 pm: Cried most of the way home, except when I stopped to talk to a nice little dog.

5 pm: Washed the dishes and tidied round the living room a bit so that it wouldn’t be a complete waste of a day.

5.30 pm: Decided that another teen coming-of age-film would cheer me up. Watched Pretty in Pink. It was actually pretty good. Andie is bad ass.

7 pm: Husband came home and made dinner. Hooray! Maybe he will play Rayman with me.

Well that’s pretty much the end of my day. I’ll probably eat a magnum, maybe watch a film with Husband and go to bed. Maybe tomorrow will be better. 

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4 responses to “Depression in the present tense

  1. Wow, I can see why people say we should talk about mental health in the present tense. Talking about it this way makes it even more relatable. I even laughed at some parts because that’s exactly how I feel/what I do sometimes.
    It’s funny because there are somethings you describe that are “weird” (like talking to yourself like that or “normal person face”) that feel so normal I sometimes have to remind myself that not everyone is like that.

    Thank you for sharing your experience.

    I’m sorry you had a bad day today. Did you find that writing about it in this way helped at all?
    I hope tomorrow is a better day.

  2. 1. I did share that link w/ you! (thanks for the credit!). 2. I have been to Scotland, I was introduced to Irn Bru….and could not stand the stuff. Acquired taste, I guess. 3. Especially on Fridays, but could be any day, I cried (sometimes still do) when coming home from work to my empty apartment. I have cried going to work too. And I put on my ‘normal person face’ still…I don’t think it’s very effective, but I try (it at least does bury my emptiness/emotions pretty deep down).

  3. thank you for sharing! I used to experience but despite how good they might be on the inside I would repeat the question, ‘but would you rather be dead’ and the answer to this for many years was ‘yes.’

    I don’t feel like that now. I haven’t for years. However, academia does throw me into major moments of self-doubt and despair.

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