It’s been a tough week. The fact that I feel guilty even saying that reveals why it’s been a tough week. Depression can hit at any time, a bit like a shower in the north. It can be the most beautiful, sunny day and then bang, next thing you know you’re under a crap tree with no leaves, swearing at the air around you as you scrabble desperately to get your jacket on before the rain hits your t shirt and absorbs into the cotton and ruins everything in your life forever, once again. A shower like this hit me, unexpectedly (and metaphorically), on Saturday and my thoughts have been trudging around in damp, heavy clothing ever since.
I find this to be a consistent thing with depression. My thoughts are, generally, about the same sorts of things – the road ahead of me; the road behind me; the girl I fancy; have I got enough water; I haven’t heard that song in ages; I really do fancy that girl – it’s my perspective on everything that changes, and that makes my thoughts feel heavy. Last week I was, literally, the happiest of campers. I was excited about heading into Scotland, proud of the miles I’d covered and, most of all, I felt like I was properly making a difference to people’s lives while living mine to the full, simultaneously. Great feeling, that. But since the shower, which is apparently the metaphor I’m committing to now, the angle from which I’m looking at all these things has shifted, and I’m now beneath them all; and as the rain fell, the weight of the water that’s absorbed into my (metaphorical) clothes has made my brain feel sodden, and heavy, and weak.
“What are you doing with your life? You’re 31 and you’re just walking around the county living out of a tent with no job and no clue. Dude, seriously, WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE.”
It’s no wonder that some people feel so utterly hopeless when depression shows no sign of letting (or shutting) up. And because everyone’s shit stems from a different place, unique to them, and the darkness has been allowed to grow and grow, feeding off years of specific events and occasions and feelings, it’s impossible to think that anyone can possibly understand a pain as acute and specific as theirs. But this is depression’s greatest trick. That awful feeling of being alone in a sadness that nobody else understands, is a feeling shared by millions. The ‘feeling alone and sad’ club is one of the biggest, most successful, most rapidly expanding clubs in existence. Clever depression.
I just want to say that this idea that depression somehow makes you a loner, or weak, or boring, is complete bollocks. You do know that, right? I know it might not carry much weight at this exact moment, and it’s probably the 8 badgillionth time you’ve heard someone say something like that this month but mate, it’s the fucking truth. If you feel like you’re at the bottom of a well, you can still do something down there that makes you feel like you’re in charge. It can be as little as getting out of bed, cleaning up the house, going for a walk (I recommend the last one). I have to do something for myself as well, because I’m getting seriously sick of this feeling. I’m stood here in Bowness on Solway, staring at the starting post of the 84 mile trail across Hadrian’s Wall. I’m not going to try and achieve a distance today, I’m just going to start the thing. Do I want to? No. Right now I honestly don’t. I want to put my tent back up and eat Swiss rolls and feel sad. There is definitely a comfort in feeling sad (Kurt Cobain, on the money). But I’m sitting here thinking about how I’ll feel once I get to the end of it (the wall, not the massive packet of cake in my bag) in a few days, knowing that depression was telling me to just pack all my shit up, get my head out the clouds, go home and get a job? Obviously, I don’t know how that’ll feel yet, but I’m going to have a punt here and say that it’s going to feel pretty fucking great.