And so the topsy turvy life of suffering depression continues. Still very much feeling as if someone has ripped my heart out (which someone has, figuratively speaking) and replaced it with an empty shell, echoing negative thoughts through my mind, and achingly bad emotions around my body. It hurts and hurts and hurts.
I’m trying to do all the things that therapists and books have suggested, like writing down my successes, keeping an activity record, getting myself out and about every day. I’ll keep on at it too. Yet it still comes back to pain, feeling useless, and occasional thoughts that people wouldn’t miss me and be better off without me.
It’s going to be a long, long road, this recovery, but this morning came the possibility of another big step. Such is my distress, though, at opening a letter presently, that I checked the postcode of where it came from before deciding it was something I could face. Not a good sign.
Nevertheless, confirmation came through that towards the end of the month I began sessions with a sexual psychotherapist. This is something I’ve needed for a long, long time, definitely decades. I have a real mental block with my sex life and I have no doubt it’s played a big role in ruining my relationships.
I’m not expecting miracles. You can’t undo decades of low self esteem and repression in a few hours of someone asking you questions or making observations. It’s encouraging, however, that there’s someone who has been assigned to me specifically to help with a cornerstone of my behaviour that has been so troublesome in my life.
Another plus is something that, paradoxically, is something that really brings shame to the country where I live. I’ve been given an appointment for a food bank. As you’re probably aware, on such a low income, I’ve found it incredibly difficult to make ends meet. In fact, I often haven’t, and go without meals most days.
In the current British climate of blaming the poor for the mistakes of the rich, it still feels a little shameful to be in need of it, as if I’m somehow stealing something from someone, that I haven’t earned or deserved it. Totally irrational, I know, but that’s how it feels in times of forced austerity. This will, at least, ensure that I eat properly, which is pretty paramount to good mental as well as physical shape.
So, slowly, despite my inner sadness, things are and will be getting better, and while depending on charity and a health service to remain independent, can reflect on Independence Day the other side of the pond.
It’s very fashionable here to resent and criticise the US. Their interventionist ways in the Middle East, in particular, has caused ire in the UK. We also tend to stereotype American holidaymakers in our country as brash, loud, and a wee bit ignorant.
I’ve always taken the opposite view. It probably stems from my father. He was a marine stationed out in the Chosin Reservoir out in 1950’s Korea. 250 British and 750 American marines held out for 72 hours against 10,000 Chinese troops in the teeth of a bitter winter, with snow around their knees throughout. One second of sleep will have ended their life. They held on, and eventually made the lives of millions of South Koreans they never knew or met that much better.
Another result of that is that I’ve befriended many ex US servicemen and their families through reunions and spent some happy days in their presence. Brave, kind, and friendly would be the three words I would use to describe them. Lovely, lovely people.
Even when I’ve been Stateside without the presence of anyone I knew, the people have been among the nicest I’ve ever met. Almost always polite, courteous, warm, and with a humour bereft of cynicism, which is probably why sarcasm doesn’t sit well with them.
They’ve also had their share of people suffering the effects of depression and other mental health issues, stretching right back to one of the founding fathers. John Adams, the second president, said something which I’ve remembered since my History O grade exams at school. “Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people.” So, so true.
On a more contemporary level, comedienne Ruby Wax is someone I admire so, so much. A funny, sassy woman, but with a raw honesty and integrity, being so open about how she has been affected by depression and how she combats it.
Ruby has led the way for depression no longer being swept under the carpet, so that people can talk openly about this dreadful illness they suffer. It’s no exaggeration to say she’s saved someone’s life that she’s never met. Something my father, all those decades ago in the Korean snow, and her have in common.
So to all Americans, have a truly wonderful Independence Day holiday. Despite all the problems and issues in your country, you deserve a day off to feel good about yourselves.
Maybe it’s advice I might follow myself one day …..