It's been the best 12 months of my life – the past year or so. It's not always been easy and there's been a couple of black hours in January and February, but overall, it's been the best 12 months I've ever had, and I couldn't've made it without some of you around.
I've had a historical problem with depression. But it's not depression as such. It's been hope. When you lose hope, you lose everything. According to medical records, I've had some form of ... depression on a number of occasions since my mid 20's. If I'm honest, I've probably had some form of hope problem all my life. And it's really only when I hit my – at that point, my then lowest ebb – in the summer of 2000 I decided that this wasn't normal. It wasn't acceptable to me to have an enemy living in my head. That's how it felt. An invisible enemy who was trying to change how I thought. I know the signs now, but I haven't always done that.
It's not a battle as such you can win. It's one where the hostilities quietly disappear for a while, until an unexpected moment. It's a form of emotional terrorism, but the perpetrator and the recipient are the same person. It's an invisible war that starts without warning. A car bomb in your thinking. Or perhaps a small set of balls start rolling. And some days, I'm just not myself.
Depression. Anxiety. Asbergers. Whatever. Once, when I was talking to an ex, she said that who I was, my need for quiet and peace, made her sad to think of. People are different, and so strange and lovely. It doesn't need a name. Though I have.
The Wave. Some days are rough waters. Some are not. I know what causes the rain inside my head. Too many times,it's the outside world. The face I wear, the clothes I hide inside, the laughing, happy guy that I am almost all of the time – who I really am – sometimes gets covered with the rain of the fact that it's 3.12 on a Tuesday.
I just thought that's who I was. The angry kid. The barely simmering rage. I felt. God, I felt so much. Too much, when I was younger. The brutal injustice of growing up an ordinary, mediocre, working class kid in the Midlands. In no way special, or unique, or different, or anything like that.
And I was scared. This was who I was, but on the outside the wisecracking twentysomething, with my armour made of wit. I could see the signs. The way I behaved, the escapes I sought, the way I became entwined, because I was just... avoiding life. A life that, if I am honest, I asked little of. All I asked of the world really, was... Don't Suck. It couldn't even do that when I was younger.
I'm older now. Happier. Not always happy, but happier. Know the things that make me unhappy, and I avoid them. I leave stressful jobs where I am treated like shit. Leave relationships where I am treated as an object to be manipulated and manoeuvered.
I was scared that somehow, the Prozac, and Citalopram, Paroxetine, Fluvox, Sertraline, SSRI's, all those things, would take away parts of me, and I would no longer be myself. I feared the spiritual amputation and anaesthetic. Would my abilities desert me? I wrote songs and novels and poems and played music and what would happen if that just stopped? What it like to suddenly not have any more songs in you anymore? Would my life be covered in the unfeeling fog?
I'm not proud of who I was. Just struggling with the world, the way the world struggled with me. That the world – the vast, impersonal reality that surrounded us – just carried on, not even cruel, but unfeeling, determined to do whatever it did (sun goes up, sun goes down) irrespective of how it hurt me. Reality felt like some kind of tumour.
The classic symptoms of dissociative disorder are there. I'm chasing the uncatchable, where the world just slips away and where money, illness, love, loneliness, all of it just disappears, where we are the Olympian in the apex of the moment, that's the moment of joy.
For years I'd probably been misdiagnosed as having The Sads. The Sads? That was the word to describe my perfectly normal reaction to a unsatisfactory reality. Living in a world where bosses lied to you, where lovers disappeared for no reason, where lives were cut in half, lands where ravaged, where spiritually my dreams were set ablaze. Sometimes, I've seen everything I've ever worked for in jeopardy, actively endangered, by an irrational cruelty and unsuitable, unkind use of power. By people who couldn't hide that they enjoyed placing my world, and our world, in jeopardy.
I've held a sense of terror in the night that everything I worked towards was so fragile. In a corporate sense, in some worlds, I've been abused, and now can see the effects of a corporate Post Trauamtic Stress Disorder years later. At the time, you're just... Living Through This.. because it might get better. It's occasionally, afterwards, you realise just how... awful it was. I had moments, and I can recall exact dates, where I was absolutely spiritually, emotionally.. bereft. Moments where my son has comforted his crying father, telling me he's been a good boy.. and knowing that he was the best boy I could have.
I have known amazing love and incredible happiness. I know I can, I have recently, I know I will again (not that I am not now). After all, I had a vague career ambition when I was younger. Now, finally, I have achieved it. That feels amazing. Fragile.
Depression, The wave.. whatever it is. It isn't a condition, but it's some kind of wave, and you ride it, you go with it, and sometimes, you end up higher up the hill than when you started. But it's in me. It's part of me now. You can't control the storm. You can ride the wave.