Thursday, 13 April 2017

Would You Just... Talk About It? Part Three

My uncle is visiting. He is downstairs with my mum right now preparing tea. Clattering of cutlery, knives on chopping boards, familiar voices rising through the floor. Very old sounds. I am up here staring out at a striated sky going watercolour pink, trying to write this quickly so we will have the evening to watch a film.

We wandered today, through woods with bluebells rising out of the grass, along Abbeydale Road looking at the street art, up and around Nether Edge, my uncle pointing out the crooked corner houses, the tumbling lean-tos, the ragged interstitial spaces of shrub-land where rusting rakes and Calor gas bottles were being gradually reclaimed by the twisting vines. We tramped to Hagglers Corner to see Jakey, past Bramall Lane into town, bought craft beer bottles from the Market, stopped in work for drinks before a bus home.

All of which sounds nice and mostly was, but I felt a low-level depression through much of the day, a kind of underlying psychic malaise. I remember looking at those bluebells early on, Mum I think had said how pretty they were, and I remember looking down at them and feeling the familiar hollowness. The bluebells were just there, no more than themselves, inadequate and uninspired and drained of vibrancy.

Depression saps spiritual colour from life. Nothing is unified with anything else, reverberating with the music of the cosmos, a window on the divine, but simply itself, cold, unimportant, grey.

I am used to this feeling, and it no longer holds much fear. I have plenty of tricks for dealing with it. I try to put effort into noticing the good moments when they occur, into clinging to them, reminding myself that, yes, this is nice. I work at laying down positive tracks of thought, try to return myself to the station when I catch myself on a train into darkness.

And antidepressants help a lot. Cognitive therapy helps. Mindfulness, meditation, writing morning pages, writing this blog, exercise, socialising, eating well, all are ways to keep myself buoyed, to keep from slipping too far down into bottomless waters.

I am doing well, the best in at least a decade, and I have no intention of stopping. But I don't want to give the impression that I am fixed, that these posts are about happy endings. I still struggle constantly. There are times every day that I want to give up.

But this really is OK. The point is not a happy ending, but a continuing life, one in which I wake up day after day and do the work to live in this moment, to really know this moment, whatever it contains. This is just as true for the difficult experiences as the easy ones.

This is what it feels like to be low. This is what it feels like to be in pain. I am not turning away from this. It is my life, and I will be here to live it.

Night night x

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