Strangely, this chapter does not have a locked position unlike other chapters in my life story.
For as long as I can recall I have suffered from depression in a number of manifestations of which I will lightly touch on to give you, the reader, the sense of what it means for me to have depression. Of course I am writing here through a 46 year old filter so at many other stages in my life I would have been less frank with you.
As for any imbued sense of social stigma, respectfully I do not care what your thoughts are on what you think I should be doing with myself, my life, now. I have chosen my path and I rejoice in the fact that you have at least given yourself the time and curiosity to have read this far into the chapter.
Depression for me is the state of mind where one is seemingly unable to shake of FEELINGS of lacking self worth, lacking self purpose, lacking in love, lacking in the ability to receive love, lacking the will power to see beyond the negative. For me depression has many tell-tale behavioural markers and more importantly, signposts that appear like reflectors on posts in the dark, which we either swerve into or away from.
I believe that much of my depression was a result of post traumatic stress, but not as a disorder, tag, label.
I grew up in a tough household...there are no other ways to think about it, it was tough and at times I often wondered whether there was love at all. That is my feelings that I speak of...those times as a child or as a teenager where I seriously wondered if being here in this world was of any use at all.
The tell tale signs of depression came soon after my encounter with the Church of England Boys Society. This is the last known happy photo (right) that I have at that time.
All consequent photos are of me angry and sad.
I began stealing things that I didn't need, began lighting fires everywhere, began lying to everyone and myself when there was no need to be lying at all. These are signs that there is something amiss, something happening in an innocent child's life.
I felt at the mercy of the world, unprotected and unwanted. That is how I FELT.
One of the hardest things of all, the most terrible thing that I encountered in that time of age when it is fundamental to who you are - I felt disbelieved. There are numerous bodies of research that show that there are definitive links between denial from others that things are wrong with a child, abuse and the utterances by adults that a child is making things up, creating lies.
This I think became the foci, the fundamental basis on which I became depressed at age 11...not the abuse itself but the inability of others to help me, rather the denial by others of my needs as an innocent child, the manner in which I was consistently and systematically treated by a range of professionals who were only quick to try and medicate me, knock me down, flatline me.
So as a teenager I began disbelieving in everything and everyone around me too. I started treating others the same way I had been treated. I began seeking my own determination and in doing so I found myself getting angry, and angrier and angrier....until I was at an age and physical stature that I soon realised I could intimidate people. I did. Repeatedly and I felt like I was getting my power back....but of course I wasn't.
Angry, I began self medicating with everything I could find that took me into a state of non-thinking. I recall age 13 drinking all of my Father's Teachers Scotch Whisky over two days. Quite remarkable I could even stand up let alone function at that age drinking 375 mls of pure poison.
By age 14 I was drinking heavily, smoking cigarettes and marijuana - lots. To fuel those habits I was of course finding ways to sell things, swap things, steal things, grow things....a savage and nasty spiral. I know that around age 14 in states of complete inebriation I self harmed myself and in ways that could not be seen by others. Stabbing myself with needles, pins and knives, particularly at high school as I was bullied and bashed a number of times.
By age 15 and 16 with hormones afire I began weightlifting and found great mentorship in Vic Sykes, instructor and long past mentor. He probably saved my life a number of times and one occasion in particular. I turned up at the Sutherland Police Citizens Youth Club (PCYC) drunk and hardly able to stand. He made me go through a full session of 90 minutes of training drunk during which I vomited twice.
I never came to the weightlifting room again drunk, ever.
I grew and so did my anger and conversely so did my depression, like a long black cloud of winter that never lifted, that hung low and oppressively over my life. A state of being where the first thoughts upon waking up were negative, where I reached for a bong under the bed as the very first thing I did in the day, sat on the back step of my home and smoked cigarettes while I drank black coffee.
Smoked all day long from morning till the moment I fell asleep in bed, literally.
Through my twenties and thirties I continued to smoke, exercise rarely, eat bad foods and take drugs of every known description. I suffered from recurrent bouts of intense depression where I was incapacitated to the point of medical intervention, hospitalisation included...many times.
So by the time I hit my late thirties I knew I needed counselling and psychological intervention. In 2005 after the death of my Daughter, Jonti Maya I went and saw a psychotherapist for almost 6 months. A deeply cathartic experience and to this day I believe my stories of my prior life altered the state of the psychotherapist herself, who left her husband of 20 years and who ended up closing down her practice.
Depression for me was at its worst a few years ago.
The time and location do not matter. All I know is that fashioned a noose from a very strong abseiling rope I had purchased specifically for the purpose...deliberate and calculated pre-meditation. Long careful thinking through the process unlike the many nights I almost swerved at that tree or off the edge of a cliff on purpose.
I tied that noose around rafters, placed my hands inside an industrial zip lock tie and stood motionless on a flimsy chair. I knew that if I pulled that zip lock tie closed around my wrists with my teeth and kicked that chair out from underneath me I would not survive. There would be no coming back. It would be over and I would absolutely nothing and everything to be worried about.
Today, I awoke happy and motivated.
I am thinking about an 8 kilometre run tomorrow of which I do so ever third day. I am thinking of the yoga I will do to help me with the pain I have constantly in my neck from a low speed car accident, the arthritis in my right ankle that was smashed at age 18, the pain I have constantly throbbing in my right shoulder from a skiing accident and the numerous other breaks and injuries I've acquired over the years.
I seek and keep close numerous personal mentors who in my reaching out have the correct ways to guide me to think positively, for me to remain focussed on my truth and who encourage me to be vulnerable with them in trust, strong in character, resilient in the everyday and to seek spiritual strength in the patterns of nature...to not lock myself into one diety or supposed truth.
I eat well and balanced meals and I am enjoying cooking for myself and for others.
I am drinking moderately and only ever in company. Alcohol is such a social scourge that I find myself cutting off whole groups of people who's very existence is mediated by how much, for how long and to the point of oblivion as a social norm. I avoid alcohol and in doing so I feel healthier and happier.
I do not smoke anything at all. I have smoked pot in company but very very rarely. I do not need it for anything and it takes away my soul.
I no longer need Valium to sleep. Again, those medications that others would give me to take over the functioning of my natural state I see as abusive and disrespectful. In being healthy and in exercising and in eating well and in all this I have learned one thing and one fundamental thing that cures all depression.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF.
That alone, that statement, applied in every single moment of the day can cure depression, no matter how deep.
In conclusion, and not wanting to sound like an academic (which I am) my life will never ever be rid of depression, will always be subject to me sincerely and emphatically being true to myself first and foremost, in looking after myself first before anyone else and in doing so having then the capacity to be good for everyone else around me.
Sometimes we need a little magic.
I am enough.