One day, hopefully many years from now, I’m going to snuff it, kick the bucket, pop my clogs, if you will…die.
This shouldn’t be a colossal revelation – after all we all know that our lives have expiry dates. We all know that our boarding pass on planet earth is temporary. Yet even with this glaringly obvious knowledge most people sleepwalk through their days without truly believing that their future has a finish line.
Death is something that happens to other people, an unfortunate feature of existence you needn’t concern yourself with until you come face-to-face with it. Why else do we waste so much time toiling away to earn money we don’t really need to buy things we don’t really want, waste precious time on petty quarrels, languish in toxic relationships or spend hours watching cats on the internet?
In the absence of anyone I’m particularly close to departing this world yet, I haven’t really had to confront death. In England we’re very stiff upper lip on the subject – it’s really only acceptable to use the D word when you’re either at a funeral or discussing the death of chivalry. My darling grandparents all passed away in their 90’s after long and fruitful lives – their deaths were sad but expected. A couple of health scares in the form of skin cancer and dengue fever certainly gave me a fright, but I was hardly tap dancing with the grim reaper. It was only when depression struck and catapaulted my mind into the dark that I really began to grapple with the only real certainty in life – it’s end.
Thanks to depression I am acutely aware of my own mortality. Having the spectre of death loom over your every waking moment makes it very difficult to ignore, even when you understand that your doomed and negative thinking patterns are merely a byproduct of warped brain chemistry. For some reason clinical depression makes you obsess about death, in fact persistent thoughts about your end of days are a hallmark symptom of the severe form of this cursed illness.
However, provided the cloud eventually lifts, it’s not the worst thing to be forced to face up to the facts of life. I had to come up with some pretty solid counter-arguments to my depression’s tiresome “I’m going to die so life is pointless” mantra. Wouldn’t it be awful if life went on forever? You need darkness to be able to see the light. What if the point in living was something as simple and awesome as ham and cheese toasties? Rainbows! Cats on the internet!
And thanks to my time living in the black dog’s shadow, I care less and less about the banal trivialities of life we all get caught up in from time to time. I really couldn’t give an aardvark’s gonad how many followers I have on Twitter, whether the bloke I fancy knows any famous musicians or if my job title makes me sound interesting. Part of this is due to simply growing up and shedding my self conscious skin but I also owe a large portion of my more nonchalant self to the blinding realisation that life is perilously short. When I’m circling the drain I’m really not going to give two shits about these things – I’ll care about whether or not I was happy and a decent human being. So that’s what I intend to focus on. Depression has gifted me with this life outlook.
Obviously this fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants approach to living can sometimes make planning for the future very difficult, and hopefully as I continue to progress towards good mental health my awareness of death will become a less dominant feature of my life. I just hope that the lessons I’ve learned will stick. In general – and I truly say this without having to throw up in my own mouth – I’m a better person now, and I don’t want that to change.
I wouldn’t wish depression on my worst enemy, but I’m glad that it hasn’t taken losing someone I love to realise that every moment is sacred. I know that this will happen at some point, hell I might even be the first to go, but until that day comes hopefully I’ll waste less time getting bogged down in unnecessary trivialities and just enjoy the moments. At the risk of getting deep as a puddle here – they’re really all we have.