On Friday 28 October I was diagnosed with depression

November 17, 2016

…In the days since I have wondered whether to say something.

I know I feel different and I do not want this to be misconstrued by people who know me well. I also know that in saying something it might look a little self-indulgent or worse, for my work, it might make some people reticent to be in touch.

I have decided to say something however, not to be brave (because I am not) or to seek sympathy (because I am fine thank you, and all will be well again before too long), but because I was rather taken by surprise and it has given me a little pause for thought. It is the thought I would like to share.

Before I go on, if you do feel this is little self-indulgent of me then now is the time to stop reading and if you feel reticent to reach out to me please don’t, it will always be a pleasure to hear from you.

I am not sure how I got to this point. My dad is unwell, work is always pressured, I have some background health issues which have taken me down a peg or two and other people in my family are having a tough time, but I have never thought of myself as someone who might have to deal with depression.

Of course like most people I have lots of anxieties. Mine include that I am always terribly nervous before a presentation; despite all the years of experience I cannot just accept it will go well and I feel the responsibility not to waste anyone’s time. I also hate being late for anything (so I am always really early) and, frankly, I can’t quite believe how lucky I am to do what I do, so I assume it will unravel at any point. However I have noticed something different and unusual. The last few months have been full of dreadful vivid dreams and restless nights, I feel perpetually sad for the world, I feel helpless to change things for the better and I feel guilty I have not done enough. I also know I am going to miss my dad more than any words I will ever find.

I can self-analyse these feelings and almost believe it is all perfectly ok and normal, but right now the way I feel in every muscle and fibre belies that logical, kinder analysis.

The pause for thought, as I sit quietly at home on a wintery evening, trying not to waste the hours I have to prepare for my work, is that I know in my heart I am blessed to have this depression now – to trust it will pass, but to know it is a time again for me to learn.

We allow the world to be described in a binary narrative; the north/south divide, right and left, Brexit or Remain, the haves and the have nots, the immigrant and the Brit, the misogynist Republican and the untrustworthy Democrat, those who succumb and those who carry on.

Yet we all know that life is not binary; we all live on multiple sliding-scales of different experiences, emotions, opportunities and weaknesses. Above all we are complex, multi-faceted, changing and vulnerable humans. Sometimes we feel aligned to things around us, sometimes we do not, but it is always fragile.

I know I am blessed in my life. I am luckier than anyone should deserve to expect and yet today I also have depression. This is my turn to feel what it is like to wear this drenched, heavy and ill-fitting suit, to feel how sadness weighs, to doubt the truth of what I have known all my life. It is my time to cry and not know why and my turn to smile, but not feel the joy behind it.

This is my time to carry these things and I will try to carry them with care. I am not fighting these feelings, but moving with them. I will respect and look after these feelings, because they are mine. And when they are gone, soon I hope, I will be a better man for knowing them well.

Take care. Paul


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