Friday, 6 February 2015

Melancholy Hill

I didn't anticipate I'd begin a post about depression with a Gorillaz song, until I heard this one and subsequently listened to it on repeat about 8,000 times. And yes, I am very behind as it's from five years ago, but I never heard it until Christmas day just gone. There is a pretty amazing epic animated video that goes with the song, which gives you a sense of the world created in the concept album it's on and the creatures that live within it, but it was the song alone that grabbed my attention when it came on the radio. I heard it when I was visiting my parents', lying in the bedroom of my teenage years. I thought it was a really beautiful song, perfectly capturing the sense of melancholy to which the title refers and I found it very relateable. The sound of giving up, resignation to not getting what you want but making something gorgeous out of the proverbial collapse. I imagine melancholy hill to be a place where you go to give up on things, on others, on yourself, to rest.

Giving up. I have lived with what the vast majority of medical doctors would call middling to serious mental illness my whole life. Unfortunately I find it hard to accept (for me personally, no disrespect to how anyone else view's their condition) that I 'have depression' or I 'have anxiety' or -as I've previously been diagnosed with- OCD, as though these are just illnesses and ca be separated from my psyche/personality/self as a whole. The doctor always told me when I was resistant to taking medication, 'look, if you have high blood pressure or if you break your leg or if you have an infection then then you have to take medication to get better, depression is just like that.' But being depressed isn't like having a broken leg and I can't see the black cloud that hangs over me as an illness that can be cured with medicine. 
I've written about antidepressants previously. I've been on them before but the only conditions under which I'd take them now would be if I was suicidal or I literally thought I was going to die if I didn't get more serotonin to my brain (as happened before - a feeling so unbearable it felt like it would kill me). 
Sometimes people despair that I won't go to the doctor's or take medicine but I feel as though the meds erase a part of me, not because they make me less depressed, but because I don't believe it's possible to only target the parts of the psyche that cause pain -the mind isn't chopped up into convenient bits, it's all connected- I find it hard to explain but I feel like I lose something of myself on them. 
I used to be very into seeing myself as ill but unfortunately I think it's more just a feeling of being trapped. We all have terrible things inside us, private things, difficult things, things that we can't relate to the people around us. But I am acutely aware of mine and I have been my entire life and I am troubled by them but I don't know if that makes me mentally ill for the construction of mental illness revolves around someone being sane. Who is sane? 
There's this stupid psuedo right-on internet fad going around about 'extrovert privilege' which irritates the hell out of me as someone who is an extrovert partly because I desperately want to run from this darkness within me that I feel will one day envelop me. I guess that sounds melodramatic, funny when put like that, but also it just is me. It makes me feel doomed. The other reason for my extroversion is of course my sense of self is largely dependent on what others think of me and that fucking sucks especially for a writer because invariably we are going to hated by some people, even those we admire, but I don't know if it constitutes mental illness. Probably it does in some DSM book, but screw them.
I tried everything. I've been in therapy for ten years and I think it's safe to say it's not working. This fog of sadness and these thoughts that I battle with in my head are exhausting. And yes, when I get it together to exercise or eat well or go outside or see friends without just getting shit-faced, all that does help make things better. But it all feels temporary. A good friend of mine does tarot and there's this card in her deck that's of someone trying to prevent their demons from bursting through a trapdoor but it's clear it's a losing and exhausting struggle as the wooden door buckles under the weight of so many trying to force their way through. Sometimes I feel like that's what I'm doing even when I'm functioning.

I've never wanted to kill myself, not really, but when I think of a lifetime continuing at the same harrowing pace, desperately fighting with myself, of self-sabotaging everything I write because of fear of too much rejection/exposure/that I'm not good enough, of having nightmares each night of such violence that feel so real, of the loneliness of it all, of how fucking tiring it is, I despair. I don't see necessarily myself getting better, whatever getting better even is. Maybe it's me and I'm just too scared of change, I don't fucking know. But I still don't want to do myself in, I think I'm much too Catholic in that respect - it's not that suicide is a mortal sin, it's that misery is there to be endured to the last. I think many people who grow up female or trans or queer learn that they deserve to suffer, but I don't think this is something I deserve really, I used to, but not anymore, but it's what I've got.

And you know what the pain of whatever this thing is (mental illness if you wanna call it that or perhaps just being me) leads to? It leads to desperation, to endless hourrs of googling shit, possible ways of recovery, of self-help books, of different medications, of every combination of B-vitamin and herbal thingy, of meditation, yoga, of CBT, of psychotherapy, of gestalt, Jung, Freud, Carl fucking Rogers, of desperate internet message boards at 3am in the morning, hoping something someone will help. Well, maybe nothing's gonna fucking help me. 

There are times when it feels better and times when it's worse of course but it's always present and I always know it and maybe it's just a part of my fucking personality, whose to say it's actually an illness? Anyway that's why I loved hearing the song so much, why all the violins sounded particularly alive to me, like the glitter of snow. That's why I always find beauty in landscapes that are dark and cold, or in the sea when it's stormy and rough at night, because if it's perpetually stormy in your mind, you sure as hell better find something to hold onto in that. 
What is so liberating to me is the idea of giving up the endless exhausting attempts to 'get better'  and the glorious gorgeous sense of melancholic resignation. And to do that and still feel love and compassion for others rather than just the bitterness and hatred which is a tempting response to the loneliness and frustration of being all at sea in your own mind.

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