I am writing this on the 1st of February 2014. It’s the dawn of a new month. Am I excited? Well, I spent the first day of February sitting in my pyjamas with a duvet wrapped around me, eating cereal, and watching Trainspotting. Of course, if you do any or all of these things, that does not mean that you are clinically depressed; however, it just so happens that I am.
When my doctor asks me how I feel, it is hard to explain. But in layman’s terms, I’d imagine that you are clinically depressed if you start doing the following things. Firstly, there’s the staring at walls business. Don’t get me wrong, some walls are very interesting. For instance, the walls of art galleries tend to be rather intriguing, and nobody would think you were crazy if you stood for a long period of time gazing at them. However, if you spend more than one hour staring at a wall, in your own home, then you might have a problem. Believe me, my walls are not interesting enough to merit such focussed attention.
Secondly, there’s the not-wanting-to-speak-to-or-see-another-human-being thing. No offense to the sane, and mentally healthy people out there. You are wonderfully lucky people, and I desperately wish that my brain possessed the same chemical constitution as yours. However, when I’m depressed, I do feel that I’d like to push you down the nearest available staircase. I’m sure that you mean well. But, to be frank, what you know about depression would struggle to fill the tiny space for words that is allowed on each page of Hello! or OK!, or any one of those scholarly magazines full of pictures of women’s cellulite. Here are some of the best lines that I’ve heard over the years.
1. “Well, we all get sad from time to time, but the best thing to do is… to not think about it.”
2. “It sounds like anyone could diagnose themselves with depression these days.”
3. Headline of a news article: “Anti-depressants don’t work”.
4. “’Depression?’ What the hell does that mean anyway?”
5. “Depression? Well that’s…em…. You know…I’ve suddenly remembered that I have to be somewhere…”
The third one I’ll mention here (there are many others) is sleeping. Some people can’t sleep when they have depression. Sometimes that happens to me, but I tend to have the more atypical problem of sleeping too much. It’s a bit awkward when a friend asks you what you’ve been up to recently, and you have to find something slightly more appropriate to say other than, “Oh, you know, I’ve been mostly horizontal and unconscious today. What about you?”.