Enter stage left, followed by a bore (your shadow).
Being a depressive is boring. Very boring. It’s boring for your family and friends and the universe. It’s boring for your doctors and teachers. And it’s boring for you, or I – the person with the parasite sitting in them, fucking shit up without a pattern or a care in It’s world. People want to find patterns, they really, really want depression to be a rollercoaster, even if it’s a ride as long and complex as the Hadron Collider. They want there to be something to trace and follow, to overtake and conquer. In my 31 years of experience with the Pork Tapeworm of Depression, I have found no easy pattern. The disgusting gnawing fucker always takes me by surprise. And since I’ve been living with it 31 years, I am an expert on it. I know it better than I do my own arsehole, and I’ve been wiping that longer. The most surprising people get depression. We are always so *surprised* when the beautiful, the rich, the successful admit, with downcast eyes, or direct-to-camera glares, that they have a Black Dog which they are ashamed of (it shat on the carpet again). Fewer people are surprised when people like me have depression. Indeed today I was told that having depression was what I ‘do’. ‘Well, it’s not surprising, is it…’. Not surprising. Why? Because I’m ‘different’. Not special, don’t get me wrong. But different. I’m sick. I’m ill. ‘You’re different’. So we are surprised that the beautiful, rich, successful get depression, but not the ‘different’.
I am different. Genetically. I am literally different. I am an amalgam of 5 percents. I have a list of medical phenomena going on in my body, most of which affect only 5-10% of the population singularly, and very few people as a collective. In fact my body has helped more people be diagnosed with these conditions because I took part in medical best practice consultations and my body does not present in the typical way for my conditions – it’s a contrary bastard that way. Since before I was a teenager, I have had to stand naked in front of Professors and medical students being prodded, poked, scanned and x-rayed. This continued until I was 18 when I said ‘fuck it’ and gave in to the break down that had been long brewing. I’d had 6 years untreated with a twisted spine and 6 years untreated with a frozen, swollen ankle I could not walk on, 16 years only being able to see out of one eye, 7 years of all body acne, 3 years of Trichotillomania, and 12 years of Depression. I could hear dog whistles and could not bear being touched, or washed. I could not read properly (Dyslexia) but everything I did read, or see or hear, I remembered and re-played over and over and over. The Cancers and deaths of my Granny and well beloved Aunt, the bullying by my sibling, cousin and nearly everyone I met at school, the first Cancer of my Mother. The catatonic state my Dad went into when he lost his job in 1994, at the same time as my Brother developed an expensive drug habit at university, and my Mum had to work full time. I broke a bit then. I was chipped a bit then. I was definitely ‘different’. I am definitely ‘different’. But not in a fashionable or exciting or sexy way. Nor in the sad statistic useful to the government way. I am not a drug user/addict or an alcoholic, and I do not fuck my way to happiness.*
Working Class Dyslexic Depressive (with suspected Autism), Chronic Spinal Pain, Scoliosis, EDS, IBS, Tinnitus, SSCD, Piles, No Gallbladder and a degree in Art History from a Well Known College in London seeks to be Depressed in a Surprising Way. For a Glamorous Reason. Like the Sexy/Tragic Heroine of a book. Not because she’s ‘different’ and it’s to be expected. Not because it’s inevitable, and boring in being so.
Postscript: I had my big KABOOM breakdown at university. My body went haywire and my mind could not keep going with study while dealing with it (as it had a GCSE, A’Level) I was diagnosed with the EDS, and even while completely bonkers and taking medication that would cause me to lose my Eidetic (‘Photographic’) Memory**, (oh and wearing a neck brace from a car accident) I took part in studies to help people understand EDS. At 22 I was again prodded ‘do you mind if a student sits in…’, and part of experiments (Pain Management courses, National Review for the Treatment of Adolescent Scoliosis – I represented the minority of my age who have not had surgery) for the benefit of my Doctors, their students, other people with my condition and Mr. Kite. Mentally I’ve not been the same since. My ability to concentrate and remember has been scattered to the winds. My depression has grown as more bits of me have failed, and more life experiences have happened – the usual.
*Do Not Misinterpret my opinion of alcohol, drug and sex use. You are free to do what you want with your body. I am discussing/ highlighting how depressed people who can’t work and are disabled physically and mentally are depicted by government studies and in the press. Too frequently we are represented as turning to ‘morally bad’ practices to make ourselves feel better, but practices that make us a drain on the community, on all the ‘normal’ ‘hard-working’ people who pay for our NHS treatment and our DWP money. It’s OK to be an alcoholic, an addict or whatever ‘negative’ thing is the flavour of the month if you have money and if you are the right ‘type’ of person. Then you can’t be used as a statis-stick to beat other people with. You can’t be fought over and mauled by people for a headline, a byline or a speech in Parliament. Theoretically, I don’t fit that. I have middle-class taste, a middle-class degree and a working-class background. I don’t drink even monthly, I’ve never smoked, I’ve never taken drugs that were not prescribed for me, and I damn well wish I could ride myself into a orgasmic oblivion. I’m ‘different’ you see. I can’t even get the ‘self-medicating’ stereotype right.
** I even lost the ability to read, which since I had 2 more years of university to do, made life very difficult. I still have periods where I can’t read. Words run around on the page, or mean nothing. I had to work very hard to use my memory to remember the shape and meaning of words so I could read them – that was how I learned and studied. And then poof! it went. I had to rely on hearing things. Now that is gone – my reading has slowed down greatly and my vocab has shrunk – I just can’t grab the word I want from my memory, and my speech has withered. This has hurt me deeply, and I lament that I cannot converse as once I did. I was very good at remembering things people told me, and then talking to them of them the next time I saw them – 2 or 3 years later. I remembered babies, dogs, cats, partners, even favourite foods – on first meeting. But now that is gone, and being deaf, I am left behind in conversation, with only my own anxious voice in my head. That worm again. Nibble, nibble, crunch, crunch.