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The shock is still reverberating about the death of comic genius and all-round nice guy Robin Williams heartbreakingly sad suicide.
“Fancy, all that fame and money and he couldn’t find happiness”
“What did he have to be depressed about?”
“You’d never have guessed”
These are some of the comments I’ve heard today. Offensive? possibly. Naive? Definitely.
Of course you didn’t know. Depression is not something that we shout about. You don’t hear someone loudly informing everyone in earshot of their mental illness do you? No, we leave that to those strangely proud “intolerants” in restaurants who seem to wear their illness as a badge of honour. If you ask us how we are, we say “fine, thanks”, we don’t tell you that we feel like we’re going to smash into a million pieces at any moment or that sometimes the terror of being suffocated by the sadness makes you want to scream.
My illness comes with a badge of shame and until I decided to “come out” there were very few people who knew about my it, and by very few I mean three or four at most. Even now, although I am quite open about “my struggle” I only have one, possibly two people who I can really open up to and be brutally honest with regarding my depression and how it makes me feel. Even then, it makes me feel guilty for burdening someone else with my “problem”, because this disease is so hateful and sinister it makes the sufferer embarrassed about suffering – how perverse is that?
But really, let’s ask ourselves – honestly. If Robin Williams didn’t hide his pain behind a clown’s mask, if he wasn’t as hilariously entertaining would you have loved and accepted him as much? Would you have wanted to see him on a chat show regaling you with tales of how he sometimes couldn’t get out of bed because the blackness had enveloped him? No, of course you wouldn’t. We took the bits that made us feel good and disregarded the rest.
Because the “rest” is embarrassing isn’t it? So, we pretend it’s not there and make sure it stays hidden.
Today has left me feeling sad and scared. It makes me think that if it can get someone like him, with all that talent, energy and “joie-de-vivre”, if it can extinguish his light what chance have I got? It’s made me hate mental illness even more. It’s a nasty, insidious, opportunistic stealer of souls and all of you brave warriors out there battling it have my love, my compassion and my empathy.
I found a quote today that really touched me: “They didn’t know. But now you do. Tell a friend. A family member. A complete stranger. Tell me if you want. Because it can never be worse than what you’ll leave behind.”
Maybe something good will come from Robin Williams death if it makes us all a little less judgemental and a bit more understanding and puts us on the road to ending the stigma attached to mental health. God knows, it’s about time.
I suppose the difficult thing about blogging for me is that I can’t get my head around the fact that anyone, let alone strangers, actually want to read my musings. But – and this is true – I have been asked why I’m not writing so much. Wow.
I had a column on a very popular food site (check out http://humbletartkitchen.com -its fab)but my writing was so sporadic that it just petered out and I let them down.
I suppose it’s a vanity thing too – I like feedback and interaction which is why I adore Facebook. The fact that I very rarely get any from the blogosphere is the main reason I am so unattached.
I could resolve to write something every day but it would be a false promise. It will continue to be feast or famine, all or nothing, because that’s the type of girl I am!
This is an amazingly simple yet powerful little clip which made me cry when I watched it because if you substitute the dog for a dragon, that’s exactly how my life feels when I’m battling my depression.
New Year, New Arse, that’s my resolution. I’m getting myself a new arse. It’s going to be pert and cute instead of gross and misshapen as it is at present. My new cheeks will be cuppable in an average-sized hand instead of an average sized shopping trolley.
I am going to get this new arse by totally natural methods and it will be attached to a slim waist and a flat stomach
There, I’ve said it, I’ve put it out there for the world (well, ok, you handful of readers) to see. It’s not a NY resolution because I always break those, it’s a promise to myself as I hurtle towards 50 that I’m going to have an arse that isn’t melded onto my legs via huge saddle bags. Because I’m worth it!
Watch this arse/space…..
July-December: July came and brought me pneumonia! I didn’t just inherit my Grandma’s cheekbones and youthful looking skin, I got her bloody chronically weak chest too (hidden behind a fantastic pair of bazoomas even if I do say so myself!) but I soldiered on heroically, I then got the letter confirming I was surplus to requirements (it actually said that in writing!)the day before I went away on holiday, talk about a kick in the teeth from the lizard-faced incompetent with the freakish neck.
So off we went to Mexico and I tried to put it to the back of my mind. The beautiful Mexican sun as well as time with my two beloved men warmed my soul and healed my chest. The country and people were as wonderful and beautiful as ever and I tried my hardest to be positive I really did but I could feel it looming, that menacing dragon was gathering her strength and feeding on the pain I was trying desperately to hide.
We came back from Mexico and the depression hit me like a spade in the face. I literally felt like one of those cartoon characters you see with all of the stuffing knocked out of them and it took every ounce of my strength to fight it, but fight it I did – it was either that or end up in a mental ward wearing clashing patterns and letting my hair go grey, soooo not my style dahling!
So, I jumpedon the “searching for a job”train. I was very lucky, I got an interview for the first job I applied for. It was almost exactly what I was already doing and looked to be tailor made for me! Except the person who wrote the job description must have been at the sherry…
I arrived for the interview nervous but quietly confident. Pleasantries were exchanged etc then followed the most excruciating, arse-clenchingly awful 30 minutes of my life. It became very clear, very quickly that the job description had no bearing at all on the actual job and I sat like a rabbit in the headlights trying to answer questions that might as well have been asked in Korean for the sense they made. I should have stopped it there and then. I should have had the balls to say that there had been a mistake but no, the misery continued with me wanting to ram my whole fist into my mouth rather than spout any more of the drivel I was coming out with!! Needless to say, I didn’t get the job – I wouldn’t have taken it if they’d offered it – there’s no way I’d work for an organisation who’d employ the babbling idiot I’d presented myself as!
I managed to get over the crippling shame and embarrassment with the help of my lovely friend DerekBee who set about sending me voice messages of hugely inappropriate answers to interview questions, which we both found hilarious (you had to be there I suppose).
It’s now nearly the end of the year and my humongous chest has let me down again. Pleurisy this time which ended up with a Boxing Day visit to A&E begging an Eastern European doctor for strong drugs! So Christmas was a little subdued to say the least but it’s still been nice – if you like that sort of thing. I’m not a Christmas fan, never have been. In fact when I was single and lived alone I steadfastly ignored it! Now I have my family it’s not really acceptable to do that and I tried making a fist of it when Child was younger and still try my best to be festive and hide my Grinchyness!
Hmmm, that’s about it really, not desperately exciting, definite highs and lows. Thank you very much for reading my blog this year – it’s really nice to be indulged! I’ve loved writing it and if I wasn’t such a lazy cow I would have written more often. I could make it my New Year’s resolution to do so but I’m not big on those either!
So, adios 2013, I’ve had better years but I’ve also had worse; come on then 2014 let’s see what you’re made of…..Now, where did I put that Weightwatchers leaflet?….
My word you’re made of strong stuff! You’ve come back to read more about my scintillating year? Well, I don’t blame you. There’s bugger all on the telly and it’s too bloody windy to go for a walk…
So, where were we?
April-July: things were trundling along nicely, I ate my body weight in chocolate having discovered the joys of Hotel Chocolat on a shopping trip with a friend. I indulged the family with eye-wateringly expensive Easter eggs from said chocolatier – I might as well have gone to the pound shop for all the notice they took – Philistines!
Work was going really well, I don’t think I’d ever loved a job as much. There was a meeting in May where the head stated that the school was in a terrible financial situation and jobs might have to go. I wasn’t unduly worried, I mean I’d only been in the job 6 months,yes, but there was no one else to do the work I did, I was crazy busy all the time and obviously they wouldn’t have taken me on if they knew…yada, yada, yada….I almost convinced myself until the slimy-looking incompetent who’d let the place get into such a situation came into my office with a letter and “heartfelt” apologies. That was at 11am. By 2pm I was in a meeting with the slimy-looking incompetent who was telling me it was a fait accompli. I was being binned on 31 Dec and there was nothing I could do about it. I resisted the urge to karate chop him in his ridiculously protruding Adam’s Apple or to knock his ugly head off his idiotically long neck and behaved with dignity and decorum for once in my life. But inside I was a weeping, wailing mess. I wanted to lay on the floor in the foetal position and have someone stroke my hair. But I smiled and carried on because that’s what you do isn’t it. You get punched in the stomach and for good measure someone grabs your heart and has a kick about with it but you carry on…..don’t you?
As I am confined to my sickbed (sad face) with a bout of pleurisy that has wrecked my Christmas, I thought it would be nice to have a look back at my year….indulge me, I’m bedridden here!
January-March: These months were mostly taken up with my annual traipse to a slimming club. Sxxxxxing Wxxxd was the club of choice this year. I found the format and the leader to be toe-curlingly hideous – sitting in a circle applauding someone for losing half a pound or commiserating (and applauding, strangely) a poor sinner who had succumbed to a roast potato was definitely not for me. I did, however, find solace every week listening to people’s hilarious attempts to make faux fast food -ie: pizza and KFC – using dried potato granules! Yep, Smash is king in the land of the slimmer, and you really haven’t lived until you’ve tried a pizza with a Smash base – and it is every bit as vomit inducing as it sounds!! I did lose a stone though…but the pizza/smash combo had nothing to do with it!
Work was going well, I’d settled into my new job and even though I only started in October I felt a part of the team and absolutely loved it. I was working in a school, my dream job with hours to die for. I couldn’t have asked for anything more on the job front.
Home life rumbled along, as it does…Child continually testing my patience as the testosterone worked it’s magic – seeing the smug grin on my mum’s face as she sees payback in all it’s glory is slightly disconcerting! Although it’s not all bad, sometimes his real persona makes its way through the swamp of puberty and he is a joy to have around, my funny, handsome, kind little man who I love unconditionally despite the testing teenage strops!! He has settled into “big school” now and is doing really well. We are trying to cope with husband being away for 4 weeks and home for 2 but I don’t think we will ever get used to or enjoy it, it’s just something we have to endure and it’s not a natural state of affairs – I defy anyone to enjoy having their parter away for such a stretch or indeed enjoy having them home 24/7 for a fortnight!
We booked our summer holiday in January, 2 weeks in July ( I couldn’t go in term time with my new job) to Riviera Maya, Mexico, of course, we tried to resist the pull but just couldn’t do it! We even decided to go back to the same hotel because we enjoyed it so much last year, I was a little wary of doing this but lost out to the majority – we are a very democratic family! At least the thought of the beautiful beaches and warm Caribbean Sea helped to make winter a little more bearable for SAD old me!
More to follow, I’m ill y’know…..
So, there I was headed for my interview, walking thru Tescos in Beverley in my best interview wear looking every inch the professional go-getter. That was until my foot caught the mat in the entrance and I spectacularly fell full length in the style of a rugby player scoring a try. I scraped both my hands and knees and, oh the shame, my bloody chin. Thankfully I didn’t rip my tights to complete the look. This was 15 mins before my interview! But I managed to fob off about 16 first aiders who were desperate to practice their skills and the store manager who was desperate to avoid litigation and was somehow able to make it on time – albeit battered and bruised and desperately embarrassed. But the angels must have enjoyed the show because -I GOT THE JOB!!
Been out for a lovely Indian meal tonight with two of my sisters – BlondieBee and FunnyBee – and two of their lovely children, my niece – ImpossiblyGorgeousBee and my nephew AmazinglyAwesomeBee (yes, I am a very proud Aunty!)
We don’t get together as often as we should but when we do I always have the best time. They are without doubt my best friends and I feel blessed to have them.
But this wasn’t always the case though, oh no, I spent a large part of my childhood hating the very air that they breathed. Mornings usually started with a fist fight and a few death threats with a break for school and then our mutual loathing could carry on until we were sent to bed by frazzled parents who’d seen enough hair-pulling and scratching for that day.
We are very close in age with only three years separating the three of us so teenage years were particularly interesting with three pubescent girls fighting over clothes, boys or anything else that came to mind!
Our little sister BabyBee is nine years younger than me so she was spared the violence and hatred but surprisingly I’m not as close to her – maybe if I’d beaten her up a bit more we’d have a better relationship as adults??
I don’t know if its the same with your family but mine can insult me and take the mick all night long and I still leave with a smile on my face -as was the case tonight….
I forced myself to go tonight even though I’m really not well( been back to see the doc today and the chest infection is actually pneumonia) because my niece is home from Uni and I didn’t want to cancel because we haven’t seen each other much lately (bloody life, it always gets in the way doesn’t it?)
Did I get any sympathy? Did I buggery!! FunnyBee is the worst, she works in the medical profession but has absolutely no truck with illness. If you ever have to rely on her for sympathy you’d better hope to Christ you’ve got at least 3 limbs missing or else she’ll just roll her eyes and tut at you. BlondieBee is a little more sympathetic until she gangs up with Funny then she’s just as bad!!
I had a particularly bad coughing fit thanks to FunnyBee, she was telling a story about how she feared she was going to be gang-raped by a trio of senior citizens which made me laugh (then cough) so hard I thought I was going to collapse or wee myself or both.
At the end of the meal, the pair of them then proceeded to rip the piss out of me because I asked for a doggy bag and started gathering up stray grains of rice from the table and asking if I wanted to take them home with me – our sense of humour hasn’t changed much in the last 30 years or so!
Talk then turned to this blog which they found absolutely hilarious – not the blog, just the fact I’m writing one. I mean how can their big sister possibly have anything remotely interesting to say??
I bet my niece is so glad she’s an only child!!
Well, if they can ever be arsed to look it up, which I doubt they will (BlondieBee is such a technophobe she thinks Facebook is something you do if you stand in a library and FunnyBee is far too busy saving lives whilst tutting and rolling her eyes at poor unfortunates) they might just see another side of me and might even be a little bit proud but I don’t think that’ll happen – they are only my blood after all!
I do love you both really though, honest!!