It’s a lovely day outside, which has been a real bonus for me. I woke up with that grey cloud hanging over my mind and forced myself to go out, get out anywhere, just get out of the house.
I’ve been rewarded with a small amount of retail therapy and a large amount of self assuredness and happiness returning. One of the places I wandered by was another regular rendezvous with my ex. Curiously, because I was alone today, all that came to me were happy memories and a content sigh of remembering the feeling of loving someone and being loved. So nice.
It was also an unexpected bonus last night when the object of my irrational attraction, Kay Burley, showed her own irrational side and followed me on twitter. It has to be an age thing, though, as the attraction isn’t of a physical nature – although a close friend of mine sees her as some sort of Venus.
What I really like about her is what most other people I know makes them grate. For the unitiated, Kay Burley is the face of Sky News in the UK, presenting their live weekday afternoon show. She’s earned a reputation for anything stretching from feisty, to rude, to a disgrace in some people’s eyes.
There’s a real straightforwardness to Kay, though, that I really admire. She doesn’t care for reputations or what political, business, or celebrity standing they have, she asks pertinent questions and persists until she gets an answer of sorts.
There’s been occasions where she’s said the wrong thing at the wrong time, though, and regularly receives criticism and abuse way beyond any indiscretion, real or perceived.
Yet she carries on doing what she does best, asking questions some don’t want to be asked. Watching Kay Burley somehow gives me a bit of spirit and fight, that I can achieve no matter what my mind or anyone else says. I owe a little something to Kay some days.
Anyway, she’s wearing red today, as the ongoing stories of murder trials and by-elections being run with dubious characters continue. Maybe it’s just what was the first thing in the wardrobe today, or maybe (and far more unlikely) it was a subconscious message of defiance, as the major party in the coalition government sports blue colours.
It actually had me thinking though, and looking back through my darkest dalliances with depression in my life. Does the depth of depression become affected by what political party is in power?
I am what it’s unkindly called in British politics as a floater. Yuck. All it means is that I don’t nail my own colours to one party mast. In the past I’ve voted for all the major political parties down the years. And the Liberal Democrats, too.
My local MP, who has done so much on my behalf this year, and before, is a Conservative. One half of my family became involved with the Liberal Democrats. Yet the nicest and most principled political people I’ve met have been of a Labour persuasion. My vote really is up in the air.
Anyway, I’m digressing. Yet again. I recall my first, horrific, close to suicide depression. It was at the peak of Thatcher’s Britain. The Falkland Island war had been won, and the Conservative government were locked in a bitter dispute with the miners.
The UK was completely polarised. The South of England and prosperous pockets of the Midlands and North of England adored her. The rest of England, and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, despised her in a way I’ve never been witness to since.
With the Cold War blustering away, and an atmosphere of internal conflict throughout Britain, the early to mid 80’s was an awfully difficult place to live when your mind really wasn’t up to dealing with life. Poisonous. I’d be amazed if it didn’t have an effect.
The next time was in ’97. Although the depression wasn’t as frighteningly deep, it was enough to be referred to a therapist. At the time, John Major had been ousted from power. He always struck me as a thoroughly decent man surrounded by a rabble. John never stood a chance.
In his place was a young Tony Blair, promising great things, a change from 18 years of Tory rule. Even Professor Brian Cox agreed with the Labour Party theme that year, ‘things can only get better’ – a song which the Prof played the drums to when D:Ream topped the charts with it!
Frankly, I think the change in landscape in British politics had a negligible effect then. Things had happened in the previous twelve months, some good and some bad, that took me to that dark place again.
Forward six or seven years. Without a doubt in the grip of a long, deep depression, the longest since those dark days of the 80’s. Therapy, medication, it was having little effect. Thinking of and planning suicide was a regular part of everyday life.
In power, Tony Blair had undid all the good his early administration had achieved – and there’s little doubt that things like the minimum wage has helped a generation of poorly paid workers. He fell into line with George Dubya, though, and despite the protest of over a million people, waged war on Iraq on the basis of a ‘sexed up’ dossier patently telling untruths.
At that point, it certainly didn’t help, living in a nation full of anger, and once again of conflict, even if it was thousands of miles away. If only people in power realised the harm one decision can make to so many people, in so many ways.
Now we have today. My descent back into mental illness. and battle to get better again, is well documented here. In government is a Conservative / Lib Dem coalition led by someone who looks more of a used car salesman or life assurance agent David Cameron. He has Nick Clegg, about as respected and taken as seriously as Gareth Keenan from The Office, as his little assistant.
They’ve spent four years doing nothing except blame the previous Labour government, single mothers, unemployed, or immigrants for all the nation’s problems, yet as soon as the economy recovers – at a vastly slower rate than other western nations – they try to shout it from the rooftops. The half a million people so poor they rely on foodbanks to stop themselves from starving is quietly forgotten.
In this case, my depression has been fuelled by the vindictiveness of the present administration. Of course, the Dave and Nick Show isn’t the reason why I’m so unbearably sad. The way I, and millions of others, have to live these days under their governance, has created an environment where depression can grow, of that I have little doubt.
So, what have we learned? Governments in conflict affect everyone. Mentally as well as practically.
Maybe something for you to nail another politician with, Kay …..