A few months ago, I went to the doctor and received some news which changed my life. Although it wasn’t unexpected, I cried for a solid half hour after finding out and telling my friends and family was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It wasn’t cancer, it isn’t even (for me) life threatening, but it was a confirmation of something I’d been trying to hide from for months. I’d been diagnosed with depression. The doctor prescribed me some antidepressants and sent me on my way without so much as a kind word, and I was terrified. I’ve known several people who are or have been on that kind of medication – what one might term ‘shit that messes with your head’ – and their experiences have been almost uniformly negative. I was hoping for a bit of counselling, sitting on a nice squashy sofa with a cup of tea whilst a bearded man asked me how I was feeling (this did actually happen, but not until later), or some lifestyle advice, electric shock therapy, leeches, even just to be told to man up and deal with it would have been better than the news that my brain is so badly configured I have to take addictive drugs, maybe forever, to try and correct it.
That’s something of a recurring theme with depression, I’ve found – when someone asks what’s wrong and the only possible answers seem to be ‘nothing’ and ‘everything’, you start to think that anything must be better than this. In my darkest times I’ve even wondered whether something life-threatening might be preferable, because at least then I could think about it clearly. Not only that, but I could explain my thoughts to people without it being awkward or unintelligible – apparently unless you’ve experienced it, the concept of feeling sad, just sad, but not sad about anything, makes no sense. That said, it’s not all doom and gloom – the addictive drugs are actually working and life is much brighter than it used to be, but it still has more than its fair share of clouds. I’m hoping some of this might strike a chord with you or, if not, that I’m at least not making no sense.