As 2012 draws to a close I feel I have woken up from depression at last.
It took its time, but the sun – which had vanished behind dense, black fog at the end of 2011 and beginning of 2012 – has finally come out. The fog of desolation has lifted, the lights have come back on and the forecast is good for 2013 (see photos below).
It’s only now I’ve emerged from my zombie-like state that I realise how bad it was at times. During my three-year sleepwalk, I didn’t know what it felt like to enjoy anything, to look forward to anything, to relax or to have energy, to feel positive or optimistic.
My mood would turn so black that I would feel the rage boiling inside my head and I would just want to hit something. Once, I literally did bang my head against a wall. I learned a lesson from the ensuing headache – don’t do that again. Or I would feel so despondent, grey and lifeless every morning that I would sit wondering how I could get through the day, and would think how much easier it would be if the world would stop spinning and let me get off.
But thanks to counselling, a daily diary of positive things, the love, support and encouragement of my wife, family, friends and strangers on Twitter and who comment on this blog, greater self-awareness and a clearer perspective on life, and not least the passing of time, I am ready for the new year.
George Harrison’s lyrics for one of my favourite Beatles songs – Here Comes The Sun – sum up my past year very well, particularly in this verse:
Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right
At the start of 2012, I wrote a blog post saying I would not set any targets or make new year’s resolutions. I managed this with one exception. I had the chance to send a children’s story to a literary agent, and decided I wanted to write it before I started pantomime rehearsals in September.
By carefully managing my time and not worrying excessively about it, I did it. Although the story ultimately came to nothing (at least, not on this occasion), I had achieved something to be proud of.
My philosophy is the same for this year – no undue pressure, no unnecessary deadlines or targets. There are things I want to do and things I will do, including the York 10K run in the summer. Running is something I started doing before depression struck but have struggled to keep up while I’ve been ill. Feeling well enough to start again has been one of my most significant and glorious victories over the wretched, stubborn, spiteful illness that has brought me down.
As a final kick to depression’s vile posterior, I am going to use this run to raise money for a great cause that has given me invaluable support on the rocky road through dark times – the Blurt Foundation.
Perhaps by then I will have been able to stop taking Citalopram, the antidepressant that has been my constant companion since the doctor diagnosed depression in early 2010. I am looking forward to writing a blog about that moment.
It felt like I would never get to this point, but I have.
To anyone else who’s going through what I’ve been through, all I can say is never give up hoping that you will get better, however long it takes. Think of depression as a big, smug face, and do everything you can to wipe the smile off it.
Happy new year, folks.