Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Red hoods blue souls green fingers

Hello. It's the end of January, and therefore time for my first post of 2018. Remember when 2018 was the kind of distant futuristic year in which you'd set a dystopian sci-fi thriller about sentient robots learning what it means to be human through the process of being shot at by Harrison Ford? And now 2018 is here and it's just normal and shit, like every other year. And soon it will have receded into the mists of time like, God, like 2006 or something. Imagine it being 2006! What were we even doing back then? Shuffling around in torn fragments of cloth grunting incomprehensibly at one another while foraging for barely edible detritus and worshipping primitive blank totems?

And that was just trips to Blockbuster Video.

OK. That's the pay-off line. We're done with that bit now. On to the next bit.

Christmas. I didn't have a great Christmas. I was working all of it save Christmas Day, which I spent mostly napping in preparation for going back to work first thing on Boxing Day. Christmas tends to be tough anyway though, if you get all depressed like I do. Something to do with the weight of expectation, the pressure to Be Thankful and Feel Merry, the air itself vibrating with the hidden message that you very much should be Enjoying This. The parades of flush-faced shoppers shuffling around sozzled on mulled wine cooing at the gaudy decorations. The incessant fatiguing drive of the big companies to leverage feelings of wonder and wistful nostalgia and saccharine hopefulness in order to trick us into buying consumer goods that we do not need and that will not make us happy. The banshee wail of that veritable harbinger of end times that is the Coca Cola Truck, a red-hooded Beelzebub at the wheel, cackling and jerking himself off as parades of gormless twonks suckle on the truck's mammarian drink dispensers until fizzy brown effluvium gushes over their lips and down their chins and pools on the floor. Something is coming, but I don't know if it is the holidays.

Indeed. But I suppose if people want to celebrate warmth and light and life springing from the depths of winter by purchasing sugary carbonated beverages, then that's up to them. At least they're happy. I felt cold and isolated and low, and being exhausted from work on top of that I found I didn't have the energy to separate myself from my negative thoughts, to write affirmations and lists of simple pleasures, to do the exercises I have to do in order to keep myself upright.

Maintaining mental health, as I'm sure I've said before, is like pulling up weeds. You have to go down to those flower beds day after day and wrench out those weeds, work on that soil, because the instant you stop the weeds begin to sprout again. Except, because with mental health the brain that you're using to fight depression is the same brain that is itself compromised by depression, it's like weeding with a trowel and gloves and... shears? (I know nothing about gardening) that must be stored overnight within the flower beds that you are working on.

Miss a day weeding and the next day the weeds will have grown over your tools and hidden them, and suddenly it is so much harder to pull up any weeds at all. And before you know it a month has gone by and you're lying in a tangled thicket of brambles with moss covering your arms and ivy creeping around your legs and you've got no plans beyond eating the day's third bowl of Shreddies and watching Everything Wrong With videos on Youtube until you pass out. So to speak.

But this is just the nature of the beast. There is no point in cursing it. Once you realise what has happened there is nothing to do but roll up your sleeves and go rooting around for your shears, and when you find them start hacking away, clearing the brush, keeping going until you hit soil, gorgeous loamy soil, and you thrust your hands into the loam, you get loam all over you...

...I'm going to be honest, I don't know what loam is. I really know nothing about gardening. But you get my point.

To switch metaphors, healing is not linear. It is a twisting, rocky path, punctuated by plenty of tumbles. And each tumble is an opportunity to learn something. Provided you keep getting up, the getting up becomes easier, simpler, more of a routine.

So here I am, wobbling back onto the path, hacking away at those shrubs, bruised, dishevelled, with dirt under my fingernails and thorns pricking my skin. And I'm happy. Here's to a verdant 2018.

...And now I think about it, Blade Runner might actually have been set in 2019, which gives us a full eleven months before the dystopia sets in. Let's make the most of it.


  1. Great metaphors-if fighting depression can be likened to weeding flowerbeds millions more people will understand where you re coming from

  2. ...and there's always 2049, the sequel. At least you've got Ryan Gosling to look forward to. Lovely post, here's looking forward to the good bits of 2018. xx