COLUMN | Deep Down15th February 2014
There are lots of things that I really like about myself. I have quite pretty blue eyes (if I do say so myself). I can eat a whole pack of bagels without putting on an ounce, can usually empathise with other people and have my entertaining moments.
I kind of like my weird double jointed big toes and my ability to see at least a little good in most things. I’m also very good at Cluedo and have read the complete works of Agatha Christie.
Naturally there’s a balance. I hate the little hairs that grow out of my ears, the way I can be prone to judge people harshly without getting to know them well enough first and my terrible eyesight. My clumsiness is a legendary cross which I bare and I tend to be a quitter with a feeble motto of “If at first you don’t succeed then it’s probably just not for you, love.” a motto that’s seen me unable to drive a car, ride a bike or master the yo-yo.
I suppose we all possess traits and qualities that we have to learn to accept and I’ve written about mine here before: my dodgy mental health. I’m sorry to recur, to bring it up again and to go on about the same old thing but I’m also afraid that that’s just the nature of the beast. It rears its ugly head. It’s also pretty topical with this week’s amazing Time for Change campaigns’ ‘Time to Talk Day’.
Statistically we were a mental illness once. Gay people were classified as officially possessing a mental disorder, just because they were gay. Loving or even just lusting after, someone of your own gender was considered to be a form of madness and was only removed from the official USA manual of classified psychiatric disorders in 1973. Unsurprisingly, discrimination, homophobia and prejudice have all been linked to alarmingly high rates of poor mental health with associated high substance abuse and suicide rates in LGBT people.
I don’t know why I get depressed and anxious. I don’t actually care either. I’ve been down the route of therapy (self-help books, counselling, psychoanalysis, cognitive behavioural therapy, medications). I’ve soul searched, analysed and been analysed and it doesn’t matter to me any more whether it’s my stressful job, my childhood experiences, my abusive past relationships or my dodgy genes. It just matters that I can get by the best I can with whatever resources I can access. I try to spot the triggers and try to engage my relapse survival mechanisms when an episode hits (spoken like someone who’s been through way too much therapy).
So, a week of feeling desperate, bowling balls nestling in my stomach and a sick sense of dread? It’s not much of a joy feeling so joyless. It’s been hard to keep perspective and think about my good career, my relationships, my friendships and the people who love me. So why am I sharing this with you? Is this entertaining or worth the read? I hope that the latter is true. I’m a normal functional human being who just struggles a bit at times. It’s true of one in three of us apparently.
So, that’s my purpose. I’m talking about it. I’m human. I work, I eat, I sleep and have a good job that I love. This silly depression of mine should carry no stigma. I’ve been ill. It’s like the flu. I’m ill, not weak or defective. I’ve been having a low period and I’m getting a bit better thanks for asking. I just want you to know what I wish people had sometimes told me: lots of people feel like this. It’s really bloody hard, but we can get by. There are lots of us about and we sometimes just want to talk about it.
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