As many of my readers will be aware I suffer from chronic pain (amongst other things). This in turn leads to chronic exhaustion. It also leads to frustration that I can’t plan to do anything because I don’t know how I’ll be from one minute to the next, which in turn leads to…. And so it goes on. As a result of all this lot I sometimes suffer from clinical depression.
Clinical depression is more than simply feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days. We all go through spells of feeling down, but when you're depressed you feel persistently sad for weeks or months, rather than just a few days. Some people still think that depression is trivial and not a genuine health condition. They're wrong. It is a mental illness, a real illness with real symptoms, and it's not a sign of weakness or something you can "snap out of" by "pulling yourself together".
In many cases (including mine) the depression comes and goes and it can have one simple trigger or it can be brought on by a combination of problems. Last year, for example, fighting with the Department of Work and Pensions over whether I was fit for work brought me to my knees for weeks on end. At the moment it is a combination of things that is doing it; none of which was helped by someone running into the back of Jo's car and damaging it, and, more importantly, giving her whiplash.
One contributor to my depression is undoubtedly stress. Stress about problems family members are going through, stress about the repairs the house needs, stress about money, stress about ‘keeping up with things’. To quote Ruby Wax -
"We are not equipped for this century, it’s too hard, too fast, and too full of fear; we just don’t have the bandwidth. Our brains can’t take so much information in a world where we’re bombarded by bad news and force-fed information. I can just about take in the weather then I’m exhausted. You open a newspaper, everyone’s dead. We’re only supposed to know what our neighbour is up to; if the woman next door to you is having sex with the man next door to her we need to know; but four doors down and it’s none of our business."
My brother, GB, watches the news on television every day. He has the mental stamina to absorb what is going on in war-torn countries and the world of politics. Like Ruby Wax, I can just about cope with the weather…
But all these things are as nothing to the feelings I went through when Partner-who-loves-tea and I lost our first-born son. And now, the daughter of friends of ours and her partner are going through the same ‘process’. Their six month old son Archie died last week of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – i.e. a cot death.
Archie Tom David Jobe
22 November 2013 - 2 June 2014
In a way I can imagine what they are going through – ‘been there, done that.’ But in another way I can’t. Every bereavement is different just as the child is different. And also, after twenty seven years the brain inures one so you can only vaguely recall how painful that time was. But even such vague recollections are crippling. My heart goes out to Katie and Adam and their families.
Because I’m feeling down I’m going off-line for a while. I may be here on the computer at times but I probably won’t be popping in to say ‘Hello’ on your blogs or making an effort to ‘keep up’ with every post from everybody.
So until I ‘pull myself together’ again I’ll say ‘Cheerio’.