It’s midday and I’m attempting to recover from a hangover by ordering a Bloody Mary at a beach bar in Greece. Life is pretty fucking sweet. Despite my best intentions to ‘switch off’, when faced with the prospect of waiting at a bar by myself, I do the only thing I can do; I connect to the free Wifi and wait for the barrage of messages that I just know have been stacking up behind my ‘airplane mode’ for the last couple of days.
There’s two from my mum and there are eight from my best friend Sophie (I can only assume that everyone else was fully aware of my scheduled vacation and were respecting my right to peace and tranquility, right guys?)
It’s the messages from Sophie that change everything though. She’s broken up with Tom (good, he was a shit), she’s not in a good way (understandably, because he was a shit) and two days ago she tried to slit her wrist. Two days ago she tried to slit her wrist.
The rest of the messages from her all read the same thing; ‘I’m fucked up’.
And I know this isn’t the point, but Sophie is FUCKING FANTASTIC. She’s a photographer for a fashion label. She’s funny. She’s hot. Go through her Instagram feed and you’ll think ‘Damn, this girl has got her shit together’. I lived with her for three years and not once did I get even a whiff of ‘under the surface I’m kind of freaking out’.
Because we’re good at that, aren’t we? I know, because *shock horror* I have had depression. I have had a breakdown. I have been on antidepressants and I have been to therapists. Yet even now, typing this, I can’t bring myself to talk about this in the present (I have depression, I am a depressive). And yeah, I am going to ask YFH to publish this anonymously because I am a fucking coward.
It’s taken Sophie to reach this terrifying low to reach out to someone and say ‘I don’t feel too good’. And yet, and YET, when I call her up, and tell her she’s going to be ok, and everything is going to be fine, it takes me a good twenty minutes to say, ‘I know, because I’ve been there too’.
So here are two twenty-somethings (one admittedly doing a lot better at being an adult than the other, but I’m working on it, so give me a break), with friends and family who love them (I can list at least two people who love me – hi mum, hi dad – and I know Sophie has heaps), yet despite living with each other and crying over everything from guys to gyno’s (and once even a guy who actually was a gyno), we’ve both neglected to tell each other something that’s affected us way more than any arbitrary hindrance beginning with a ‘g’.
Why have I never talked to her about it, and why don’t I want to talk about it, to anyone, ever?
Here’s a bunch of excuses that could fly: because they make me state it on a form when I start a new job like it’s some kind of ‘condition’ that must be immediately identified in the workplace; because my friend Mike dumped his girlfriend when he found out she took medically prescribed citalopram (Mike’s a cunt); because I’ve read horror stories about women with post-natal-depression killing their babies and genuinely burst into tears, convinced I can never have children because ‘that could be me’ (admittedly, my depression always manifests itself in hyper-anxiety). Maybe because I’m a coward. Maybe because I’m selfish. Maybe because I’m ashamed that I’m not ‘strong’ enough to deal with my ‘oh-so-fucking-terrible-life’ where I have approximately zero actual things to be worried or sad about, so how dare I lie in my bed with an almighty sinking feeling in my stomach simply because tomorrow will mean I have to wake up.
I don’t want to talk about it because it’s undeniably shit. And it’s undeniably terrifying. If I talk about it, that means it’s real. If it’s real, it means there’s a very good chance that at some point in my life it will come back and hit me like a shit ton of bricks again. Probably when I’m least expecting it. And that’s the scariest thing in my world.
And I know that’s not the ‘right’ attitude. I have a huge amount of respect for those people who have been there and who can talk about it, but right now, I don’t want to do that, and that’s ok too. Yes, maybe if Sophie had known that I’d experienced the kind of lows she was going through, she might have felt more inclined to talk to me earlier, but chances are it wouldn’t have made a flying-fuck of a difference, because she didn’t want to acknowledge it.
Even now, when I think I’m feeling ok (I can never be completely sure), I don’t want to be reminded of how truly shit those periods have been. I don’t want to talk about it, or try and figure it out. Honestly, (and I know, I shouldn’t be saying this), but honestly, I want to keep this to myself and pretend it’s never happened.
Photo by Danny Ngan.