NOTEBOOK: Mental Health Day
Today started badly, decided it quite liked that feeling, and resolved to carry on that way as long as possible. It meant I woke up much too early, for me, soon felt worse, but then we thought, oh bugger it, why don’t we make the best of a steaming heap of bollocks and just go out for breakfast? Because why not?
I’m in a weird state right now.
Weird because yesterday I received some lovely news. I was very pleased about this news. But within about half an hour of receiving the news, and in fact ever since receiving the news, I’ve been deep down in the latrine at the back of the dumps. That’s the thing about depression. It doesn’t care how well your life might be going. It’s got other plans for you today.
It doesn’t help that my news is the sort of news that can’t be announced until confirmed (or shot down) next week. So it rattles around in my head like an angry wasp in a jar. But even if I could take out full-size bus-ads, I doubt it would make me feel less lousy. Because depression takes precedence. It’s always the number-one thing going on in your head today. It gets the best seats. The waiters defer to it, and call it sir.
I wrote in my memoir a piece about getting a writing award in high school, and at a school assembly one day I had to go up and actually receive the award. And how nobody said anything. There was no clapping, nothing. Depression is like that. It’s like a gymnasium full of people who should be clapping when you achieve something great and important, and even who would be clapping and cheering–but it’s you. The specific problem is you. If it were anyone at all else, everyone would go nuts. There would be so much cheering they’d have to call the police and the fire department. But today it’s you, and you get sullen, hostile looks and folded arms, and a nasty, warm, sweaty smell in the air as you shuffle back to your seat.
I read sometimes these days about kids, sometimes unbearably young kids, who have killed themselves, and who have a history of being bullied, including on their computers and on their phones. I never doubt those stories. For me, reaching home meant I was safe at last, pretty much. No computer, no phone. I had my own room, and my own books. But these kids today are immersed in it, they drown in it. There is no safe harbour for them. Even worse, when they begin to hear the voices calling them to death, and they begin to call back that they want to come, their phones can even help find ways to do it, nice and simple.
We live in unimaginably horrible times, and I can only just bear it myself, and me a sodding big bloke of 54 and one-half. Yesterday I voluntarily completed a survey offered on Facebook that was asking how much was I enjoying my experience on Facebook and all the neat and love features they were rolling out? There was no box for me to tick “you have built a global machine that magnifies and multiplies and intensifies all of the world’s pain, agony, fury, madness and despair, and arranged it to come at you in an endless column, all day and all night.” The site is good for actually connecting with some actual friends, but you have to dodge and weave around the worst things in the world to find them.
Thank God there was no Facebook when 9/11 happened. Can you imagine!
Sometimes I can last an hour, and it’s reasonably nice. Sometimes I run screaming after three posts.
Often I think about my own contribution to that pain.
I also think about the luxury of my privilege, that I can easily escape from harsh and difficult circumstances. Not everyone can do that. A great many people are stuck in a deep, deep hole. Those people have cause to be angry. They wish they could opt-out, too.
This is all true.
Today I’ve been working on trying to load older writing projects from Word into Ulysses. With the help last night of a Ulysses tech support guy in Germany, I managed to get the manuscript of ETERNITY LEAVE back, and today I was trying to get my old, failed KNIFE project back again, too. Alas, though, those files had become corrupted, so out they went.
But not a total loss: in doing all this I learned a few things more about how Ulysses works, which is marvellous.