It's been a good few weeks that I've been in this head state, a dark funk that clouds my reality. I'm a depressive, have been for as long as I can remember. But the down sometimes, go deep down and it's dark down here.
I'm writing this for myself, but also partly for those close to me to see a little inside my head. Maybe also to bleed out some of the bad stuff in my head too.
There's nothing that particularly triggers me into this downward funk, and it's taken me decades to be able to identify it properly.
As I approached the end of 2022 I had expected to have a break from client work and had started to plan out some of the open source work and side project activities that I wanted to do. But, yes, poor me, work continued - which is good from an economic perspective.
As I entered 2023 I could sense my motivation had been sapped. It wasn't just low, it was gone. Across the board.
My flavour of depression can be somewhat mitigated by distraction. If I'm focused on work, I forget the voice in my head and it gives me some respite. But not this time. Work wasn't distracting me.
The problem with that is that I'm constantly stuck with the question of: what's the point?
What's the point?
Well, I personally believe there's not an answer to that question. Not a universal one at least.
It's a question that you have to wrangle yourself, for yourself. Only you can decide what the point is.
I have plenty of reasons to exist (because "what's the point" only leads me to "why exist"). My kids first and foremost. It's my kids that saves me from the darkest worst part of despair. As much as I want to hurt myself (emotionally) it's knowing that I'd cause more pain by not existing that keeps me..."okay".
Seriously, suicide doesn't come into my mind anymore. It hasn't for a solid couple of decades. I'm thankful for that. For my friends reading, I'm not sure if that will shock you or it'll just be that you kinda knew it. That, that end, isn't part of my funk.
Where my funk lives is in the land of loneliness. I feel isolated and alone all of the time. And when I'm alone in my head, my Bob (my depression, that fucking nasty voice in my head) takes his cue to whisper lies to me.
"You're disgusting. You're sad. You're alone. Nothing you do matters. Why bother."
Bob isn't nice. At all.
I haven't managed to get back to the gym since November last year because of that voice. Telling me that I'm disgusting. Makes no logical sense right? The gym is for feeling better yet Bob tells me that's what he thinks, which is to say, the world thinks of me.
Bob is right there waiting for me when I wake up, which lately has been at 5am. Of course I can't get back to sleep with him prattling on in my ear.
Can you believe I'll lay there for hours thinking about when I was, picked at any random morning, 8 years old and I acted horribly (Bob tells me) to my mum, or sibling or really anyone. Selfishly. I should feel guilt. I should feel shame. He says to me over and over.
My only defence is experience. I recognise the echo of his voice in my head. I know, in some part of my brain that it's a lie. It doesn't save me, but it helps. It lets me breath. It reminds me that this isn't my voice. It'll pass...
"You've never been happy"
That's definitely Bob. Though I hate the absolute value of "happy".
Are you happy?
Now? Maybe, but maybe not, and if I'm not happy, have I failed to be happy? This is on point.
When I realised I had experienced moments of happiness is when I decided a list is what I needed.
A list of things that make me happy. It's like my cheat sheet for escaping Bob's voice, or at least reminding myself that it'll be okay again some day.
My happy list
So here's my list. For me, for you and for anyone else:
- Rubbing the tops of my feet
- Christmas time
- Laying on the sofa with Seren
- Laying on the sofa with the cats
- Having the kids lay on top of me feeling their weight connecting us altogether
- Freshly and tightly stretched out bedsheet
- Watching the waves drift in
- Hearing Ellis laugh hysterically
- Golden sunlight in early September
- That soul train video
- Seeing new movie posters from the tube
- Getting to the end of a novel
- Missy (my long haired cat) snuggling up to me under the covers for a nap (RIP)
- Going to clean my teeth at bedtime, having realised already did it when put the kids to bed some 3 hours earlier
- Eating Pink Lady apples
- When dizzy would bump his head against mine and then rest himself against me. (RIP)
- When Seren comes home from nursery and runs into the kitchen shouting "daddy! Daddy!" and gives (gave) me a big hug.
- Being under clear water, deep enough that my tinnitus can't be heard with natural light shining through and splitting into rainbow colours on the pool floor.
- Seeing my kids teach eachother new things
- Watching Seren and Ellis sharing tiny unassuming moments, like catching up to walk together, or showing one what the other has written.
- In the morning, when the kids join us in bed, and their fingertips idly touch my back. My skin lights up with happiness and love. It's electric.
- Dinner with Julie, my mum and my dad for my 40th and talking about a younger time.
- Being on the beach (or beach side) with Julie, when it's just her and me. Blue skies, blue horizon and my best friend.
- Hearing bird song early in the morning
- Taco climbing under the covers at 5am with me, and snuggling up against my skin just the way Missy used to.
It's useful for me to write that out. To re-read my whole list again. To remember that the list evolves and it's always waiting for me to revisit.
I've started counselling (or therapy) again - hopefully to help me shed the guilt I feel all the time. I'm starting therapy to help me with the fatigue I feel all the time from MS, I've started the process of enrolling in some physiotherapy for my legs (again, MS related) and started the process of hearing therapy to help me deal with the tinnitus.
I'm kinda broken, but that's okay. What's not okay is Bob in my head. He's not welcome but he seems to have settled in for an extended stay.