I was talking the mum about many things the other evening and, in my attempt to be completely honest with people from this year on; I began by telling her that I only needed her to listen when I talk. That her opinion or advice is not something I am asking for and that some things she said before Christmas only made me feel guilty. She took this well and so, the conversation went on and lasted for some time.
Mum told me about the first time she had seen me ‘like this’ and that was over a decade ago, when I was secretly skipping lessons during my A-Levels at school. This merged in to days before transforming in to weeks. I still don’t know how I got away with it for so long or, to be honest, why I ever did it. I can remember being home the day my mum answered a call from the Head of Sixth Form… I think I was supposed to be in one that day yet, I was hidden upstairs in my room. Maybe even lying in bed; listening and waiting.
Year 12 was fine and I quite enjoyed the ‘freedom’ from GCSEs and uniform (even if half my trousers were worn hand-me-downs from my father…). One guy commented on how I had changed. Apparently, I was ‘cool’. He asked if I’d done meditation or something. I’ve no idea what really bought on the change! I wasn’t even looking for a part-time job and I was month away from getting my provisional driving license. I still spent much of my free time alone, in my room, playing on my Nintendo 64 (remember those?).
I did feel a change towards the end of Year 12. I was growing tired, only half looking forward to that final year before stepping out and in to the real world. By the time Year 13 started, I had a job and had worked hard through the summer. I had my provisional license (I think) and was looking forward to starting driving lessons, which would begin in 2003. I had stuff to look forward to but, I wasn’t happy in my present. I was down to two A-Level subjects (Art and DT: Graphic Products – my AS Level was in Art Graphics!). Art was the one I feared the most although, partly for my teacher, who I did fear. When you step back though, you can see he is a great teacher.
My DT teacher was almost like a friend at times and always made a great effort to me personally. He saw so much in me that I couldn’t at the time see through my own eyes. After Christmas, I had meetings with different people who all tried to help. There was a really nice, upbeat woman who tried to ‘counsel’ me, I think… I can’t remember her job title but I always felt more comfortable in that narrow room between classrooms, with her, than I did amongst my peers. Another woman I had to see was a career’s adviser (although, not much older than myself). She tried her best to give me options and hoping for September as I was lacking in both plan and direction. I can’t remember whether she actually set me on a path but, I know my mum definitely helped. I remember she phoned me at home, many months later, just to check up.
I am sorry that I never got to say goodbye to my Graphics teacher. It was final year at the school and in the country, as he was moving to France with his wife (she’s French) for early retirement. I imagine it hurt him that I wasn’t there. He phoned me at home one evening, only two months before the A2 exams. I’d missed so much and was so far behind but, he was confident that we could ‘appeal’ to the board and that they could credit me with a B-grade for my attempted coursework (which was about two-thirds done). I’d done little work to my final model at home – I think my dad made most of that as I had absolutely no interest or belief. When asked, I told my teacher that I would be in the next day to hand it in to his office… I wouldn’t have to stay for the class or anything but still, I couldn’t face it and, in the end, mum ended up taking it in for me. All I really had to do now was to attend two final exams to achieve some kind of grade… I couldn’t. I still dropped out.
I don’t remember being bullied any more than the verbal taunts I’d receiving since I started primary school. I remember not having many ‘real’ friends. I used to hang around with a group of ‘nerds’ from my DT class because I didn’t feel comfortable around anyone else. I’m sure I was mocked for this and then, I still kept my distance. It felt as though everyone else in the year had ‘grown’ since turning 18 and yet, there I was, still 16 and going nowhere. Doing nothing and having little to offer.
That was one of the lowest times in my life and I still don’t understand why. Too much has been forgotten now, ten-years on. But, I’ve been feeling very low again recently (not for the first time since) and mum’s perspective has made me consider just how deep in to a state of ‘depression’ I may actually be…
When I’m low, I’m like a lot of other people; uninterested and unproductive, to put it very basically. I’ve always seen these times as my depressive ‘episodes’, if you will (I’m not sure if it’s right to use that word). At other times, I’m more productive and able to cope but, I’m never genuinely happy. I often have to force or fake a smile. I can see positives, light, colour and sometimes I’ll be tickled hard enough to let out a real laugh, instead of just try to please or not-concern someone else. So, I’m now wondering…
Am I suffering from a permanent form of depression?
Perhaps my understanding of what depression is and how it works is naive.
My counsellor only ever focused on the anxiety issues and that irritated me a bit as we walked on past the depression, to be honest. Does depression lead to anxiety or vice-versa? As I write this post, I’m also narrating (in my head) in the voice of Stephen Fry… (I was watching his DVD again last night). I began counselling without much of a clue, searching for answers. Now, I’m thinking that I should get an opinion (by seeing a psychiatrist) first, so that I at least know where I’m dealing with and where I can go.
I must book an appointment with my GP this week as this current state has lasted around 21-days so far. Sometimes I’m higher than on other days but, the fog isn’t clearing. Recent events haven’t helped this week, even though I spent an evening with a friend in Bristol on Friday night (for me, that’s unheard of). If I leave it too long and find myself ‘out’ of this hole again though, I fear that the doctor won’t see it and I’ll even begin to doubt it myself.
This is why I feel I must start carrying a small notebook with me, to observe and to note my mood, thoughts and feelings in a diary-style format.
I have a ‘fascination’ for bipolar disorder based on events within the last year but, before I attempt a self-diagnosis, I don’t think I ever get the highs of any form. I’ve seen symptoms of mania, hypomania and even high mood that I do not recognise within myself. I’ve had some ‘crazy’ thoughts throughout my life and maybe I’ll dedicate some of those to another post soon. But, in isolation, these ‘symptoms’ are not enough for a diagnosis, as far as I understand.
I should be in my van right now. I should be driving in to Bristol, ready for a bacon sandwich and a six-mile walk around the city. But, I’m afraid. My mood was so low last Sunday that, although three people made an attempt to talk to me, I just wanted to tell them to go away. As the group broke off in two and we headed off to a café for a post-walk drink, I made a non-discreet exit from the crowd that seemed to go unnoticed, as we passed the car park. I do feel guilty about that and it’s a fear that going today would invite all the usual questions – Where did you go last Sunday? etc. I can’t explain my behaviour to everyone and now, I forget what was even making me feel that way.
It would’ve been nice to have done the walk and to have disappeared again before the proposed late-pub lunch. There are ‘famous’ parts of Bristol I still don’t know and I would’ve liked to have seen some of those today.
After the walk, my plan was to head down to Millennium Square to do some photography, in the places where I first laid eyes on May and we got to know each other. Still, I fear the presence of other people, especially when they’re within the line of a shot I’m looking to take (I fear being accused of things like a pervert, paedophile or even gay when a stranger sees me with my camera out). I don’t know how things will pan out but, I sent a message to one of her female friends yesterday, asking her to be there for her because she does need someone and, I imagine, would find it very hard to trust another man at this time. If she even reads the message, it’s up to her as to how to proceed. Anything could happen! I know that May won’t come running back to me, with her own depression and I’ll have to try again to make the first move, once I’ve given her some to to think. To assess what she does or doesn’t have. I don’t wish that to sound arrogant but I know she has placed trust within and that does give me hope.
I fear I may’ve lost her but, she certainly has not lost me and she never will.
- Women, Depression, and Hormones (Video) (drangelaspeakstowomen.com)
- Depression and Truthiness (regan5.wordpress.com)
- Coping With Depression (answers.com)
- Depression at Christmas (takingbackthereins.wordpress.com)
- 7 Online Resources To Help Those Who Are Depressed & Suicidal (makeuseof.com)
- What do you do? (chiariwarrior.wordpress.com)
- Brutally Honest (triing2survive.wordpress.com)