Stephen Fry is my Hero and Other Things About Depression

Stephen Fry is my hero. Really. Which is funny because I actually have no idea what he’s even famous for, but every time he opens his mouth about depression I just want to hug the man and thank him.

I live with depression, and by live I mean it’s my baseline, my daily existence. As opposed to going through bouts of depression which most people will at least once or twice in their life I live under the cloud almost all the time. Some days I get flashes of sun, on a rare occasion I’ll have solid periods of sun, but most the time the sun is behind the clouds and there’s a low drizzle of rain.

It’s not too bad, truth be told. I don’t do the random spikes of manically up and then crash like someone with bipolar has to deal with. I don’t have a baseline of happy to compare back to so I don’t necessarily feel truly horrible the way someone who is going through a bout of depression in their otherwise mostly ok life would. It’s just a fact of being for me.

I sleep a bit more than most people. Frequently 10 – 14 hours a day if I have no reason to be up. I often have trouble doing basic things like dishes, laundry and cooking… I forget to eat a lot (and sometimes wish my waist line would show that really). For the most part I get by. I have had to learn to focus on what I do get done so I don’t fall into a bottomless pit of feeling like a waste of air for not getting shit done. I go out often, even if it’s just to sit in a cafe, because being out helps keep me balanced. I try to see people, and I try to not hide how I feel without being angsty-pants-the-angsty at the same time – it’s a bit of a balance but achievable.

Mostly it just spoils things a little. I can’t quite raise the enthusiasm, I don’t feel as inspired by life, I get tired and worn so very easily…

Sometimes shit gets bad though. The clouds get so thick and dark that I go from feeling a little numb and sad for no real reason, disconnected from the things and people around me, to a place where hurting myself is an option, killing myself is a good idea or where I want to simply cease being. These periods are the worst because it’s hard to ask for help when you feel completely disconnected and/or feel like your very being is wasting oxygen.

The wonderful illustrated blog Hyperbole and a Half put up a very accurate representation of how these times feel, up to and including trying to explain to the people you care about, in this post… although I tend to not get the laughter bit, but rather get irrationally angry instead. It made me cry. I had therapy today and then went and talked to a good friend who is struggling with some of these same issues at the moment, and then read that post on the way home and cried.

It’s my life in a blog post.

I’ve sat here a number of times, quite recently, and simply wished I didn’t exist. Not even wished I was dead, just that I did not and had never existed. Like my very presence is fucking shit up for everyone around me. It’s not a nice place to be at, and it’s a long slow process to get back to a baseline of overcast and just a little bit rainy. When people tell me these are brave words I feel a touch lost…

It’s not brave.

It just is. It’s a fact of life like going to work so you can keep a roof over your head. You deal with it because you have to… that doesn’t take bravery or courage. It takes, perhaps, a little strength. It requires a certain level of iron in your soul to deal with this shit day in and day out without letting yourself sink… mostly it takes a lot of self knowledge and the willingness to believe against all odds that tomorrow will be better.

So yeah, Stephen Fry is my hero, because he doesn’t sugar coat it all with saccharinely positive self help bullshit. It hurts, and it’s hard, and you can not control it, but you’ll get days with the most beautiful blue skies if you can wait out the storms.

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