Depression is my Gandalf. Except instead of stopping me from wreaking fiery havoc upon a gaggle of hobbits (fun, but let’s face it, not really my cup of prawns) it gets in the way of things like parties, holidays and music festivals.
As I sat by my open window on Saturday, a light evening breeze tickling my face, I was so close to the music festival in full flow in the park adjacent to my flat, I could literally feel the bass line thumping through the glass. Natasha Khan’s muffled vocals drifted across the canal between me and the festival site, I could hear the crowd whooping, and I was insane with jealousy.
Giving up my festival ticket was definitely a good call. I was so exhausted, miserable and anxious that a simple lunch with friends that day had felt like medieval torture. It must sound trivial, childish, self indulgent and petty to complain about something as unimportant as missing a fun day out. I’m acutely aware it isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things. But for me it was the latest in a long, long line of experiences I’d had to let go in recent years because I didn’t feel up to it. And as I listened to a band I’d been wanting to see live for absolutely ages performing mere metres from my home, I felt a bit heartbroken.
There was a time when depression made me completely lose interest in the things I’d once loved, like live music, so I’m grateful to have bypassed the crushing apathy that blights the lives of so many depression sufferers. Despite the disappointment, actually wanting to participate in life again is a big step forward.
It’s hard not to wonder what my life might have been like these last few years if I hadn’t been fighting off this illness. What experiences might I have had, what would it have been like to not miss out on so many things. What does saying ‘yes’ more than you say ‘no’ to life feel like?
The cavalcade of ‘what if’s can be a bitter pill to swallow, and when I’m feeling a bit jaded I try to recall all the positive things I’ve learned over the past few years. The life skills and knowledge that the drastic highs and lows have given me, which I’ll have forever now. The path towards a better place that I’m on, which I may have taken years longer to stumble onto had the depression road block not forced me to stop and re-evaluate my life.
At the end of the day all the missed gigs, dates, holidays, parties and work opportunities in the world aren’t as important as your health.
Depression, all I really have to say to you today, is this. Let’s make a deal. If you give me my health and my life back, then we’ll forget about the last few years. All the great times you made me miss out on? Don’t even mention it. We’re cool. If you scuttle on out of my life forever, and let me start making some new memories, I’ll let you off the hook.