It’s a lovely day here, so the daily trudge for a job was a bit more pleasant than usual. The flip-flops had worn away so it was deck shoes to wander about in and ‘enjoy the pleasure’ of being told that they were interested in me but not so interested in paying a living wage.
It’s something I’ve become accustomed to, as is a certain hindrance for being a pedestrian on these daily wanders. Instead of using designated parking spaces near a bar and cafe by The Magnolia Treehouse, or a car park 50 yards away, drivers take it upon themselves to not just partially park up on the pavement, but to take their car entirely off the road, leaving us to walk in the traffic.
Of course, it’s an annoyance, but it’s of no importance in the grand scheme of things, and my road side behaviour is far from unblemished. There’s been a few occasions when, lost in my own reverie, especially in the grip of depression, I’ve walked out in front of cars, completely oblivious.
In those, thankfully rarer than rare, situations, I’ve been glad of the toot of the car horn. My immediately response has been one of shame / embarrassment, and I immediately hold my hand up and say sorry. The majority of drivers, though irritated, have held their hand up in recognition that I’ve apologised for my error, and we’ve both gone on our way.
A few, however, have taken it upon themselves to lower their side window and shout the most horrific abuse, in public, in front of women and children. When that’s happened, I’ve never replied, despite the urge to do so, and either carried on walking while they ranted, or at worst given them a hand signal of my own.
Afterwards, though, I have reflected. It may be how I am generally, but when someone has shouted at me in such an abusive, aggressive and consistent manner, it upsets me, though I won’t show it. It’s not something I’ve intentionally gone out to do, yet in seems some drivers believe they are beyond the law when reacting like that to someone else making an error.
It’s fairly obvious that those drivers, given a trigger and such an immediately aggressive response, are suffering from some sort of psychological ailment, whether they recognise it in themselves or not.
It runs a lot further than road rage, though. That is the end result of something deeper. It’s also something that is well overdue to be tackled and discussed, the deeper lying reasons that trigger it, as road rage incidents are now the biggest cause of child fatalities on the road. A pretty sobering thought.
With so many people suffering from depression at any one time, around five million in Britain alone, a considerable number will be driving around every day, going through the same mental torture I’ve put myself through, and very probably far worse in a lot of cases, too. Would you want to be driving in that state?
It’s something the driving license people are hot on but can do little about. If you suffer from depression, you have to declare it if it affects your driving. If you don’t, and there’s an accident, and it’s found you didn’t declare the condition, a fine or a spell in clink might well be added to your woes.
The obvious thing about driving with depression is that it might critically affect your levels of concentration and memory. A missed turning, a momentary phase of absent mindedness, and you don’t need to be outlined the consequences of it all. There’s definitely been times, too, when on a pelican crossing I’ve had to retreat, due to the driver somehow missing the lights. Scary stuff for a second or two.
We all know, too, that if we drive just after an argument, or full of some other negative emotion, our driving becomes slightly more dangerous. Risks that would never been taken are considered, speed limits may be broken, corners cut, turnings made in a higher gear, as anger or irritation courses through our minds.
This is where it’s especially dangerous in drivers under 25. Research has shown that drivers of that age, tend to take more risks in any case. Add to that those going through depression and the repercussions don’t bear thinking about.
Overall, everyday living with depression is a long, hard battle against your own mind. When that battle is taken behind the wheel of a car, though, it becomes a real danger. Not just to the driver, but anyone within range of the road as it goes by, too.
‘If you can walk, do it. If you don’t need to drive, don’t’ is an edict I’ve lived by even without depression. Maybe, by doing that, I’ve saved a life. Possibly, in spite of many suicidal thoughts, my own. All thanks to a paradox.
Having the drive not to drive.