Thursday, 14 August 2014

My Two Penneth

Ok so depression has been back in the news. The shitty fucking illness has claimed another victim. 

Here’s my take, yes it’s another blog about depression but if it raises awareness and opens discussion then it serves a purpose.

As always feel free not to read.

The sad death of Robin Williams has led to a lot of media coverage, an outpouring of sympathy and then rage against how the media cover such events.

Obviously I didn’t know the man, I wouldn’t say I was his biggest fan but I was upset.  As well as being upset the news scared me, really scared me.

The first I heard of it was when a friend messaged me in the morning to say they were thinking of us as No.2 was going into hospital for an operation and then added 'Robin Williams :-( fuck depression'.

I checked the news and there it was in black and white, then went on to twitter and it was all over. Everyone had an opinion and was suddenly an expert on depression.

I don’t claim to be an expert, I have my own opinion and that’s all this is my opinion. Not on Robin Williams but on depression. I can only speak from my experience.

For me this is the best explanation I’ve seen, I’ve posted it before: -

When we were sat on the hospital ward waiting for Meg to go down to theatre and another family was sat opposite. The mother was discussing the story with her daughter. All I heard was “I don’t understand it, look how much he’d done, how popular he was.”

To me this is crux of most peoples thinking, how can someone so popular, so successful do ‘THAT’?

The thing is depression doesn’t give a single fuck who you are. It doesn’t care how many people love you, or how much money you have. It doesn’t discriminate. It can kick anyone’s arse at any time.

The common denominator is that we all have a brain, a brain that can get a little broken.

And on the subject of doing ‘THAT’ it seems such a selfish act and I’ve said before that depression to me is a very selfish and narcissistic illness. It’s all about me; how I piss people off, how I feel, lost in my own head shutting out the world.

But I know when I thought about it and I did, I’ve admitted it before. It wasn’t about me making a statement being a martyr, going out in a blaze of glory. It was genuinely (unrationally) but genuinely thinking people would be so much better off without me. Things would be better for everyone if I weren’t around.

We’re all different I know that, people have different reasons for everything they do. 

So why was I scared?

I was scared because I thought it could be me. I’m doing ok at the moment, a dip here and there but generally all right. The fear comes from the thought of the next episode. You see deep down I don’t think I’ll ever be ‘cured’. I try not to think of the future like that but when it’s in the news it’s tough not too. I have therapy and maybe I’ll always take antidepressants, who knows?

I found talking to people I don’t know easier, the Samaritans do an amazing job, I’ve phoned them in the past – 08457909090

I find the group therapy of twitter helpful, although it presents me with different issues.

Anyway there was also the fact that Meg was having her operation on Tuesday. It was the first time I’d been back in a hospital since Dad went him in for his routine operation. That didn’t turn out too well.

The following is an example of how depression hits me, how my brain works.

Tuesday wasn’t about me, it was about being a Dad, a rarely feel like a Dad, I see myself as a child most of the time.

Meg's operation went fine and we waited in the recovery waiting room for her to come round from the anesthetic. As she was waking we went in, she was hooked up to a few machines and was crying obviously in pain and generally disorientated as to where she was.

The problem was I couldn’t be in there, I had a panic attack, went dizzy and thought I was about to pass out. I had to leave.

Now a few days later and looking at it rationally I see it was all too much like seeing Dad again, the machines, the hospital. The thought of losing someone else.

At the though time I stood outside the hospital crying. Crying about what a shit Dad I was, how I couldn’t be there for my daughter when she needed me. 

At that point I hated myself again, I’d managed to turn the day into being about me. How I felt. How people viewed me. What a failure I was. 

And that’s how it gets you you’re lost in your head, thinking you’re so bad that people would be better off without you.

Meg is recovering and I appreciate all the kind words and messages we received.

As always this isn’t written for sympathy. As they say opinions are like arseholes, everyone’s got one. 

This is just this arsehole’s view.

Friday, 8 August 2014


I’ll make no apologies for the following, I suppose if I want this to be a true reflection of me then it should be 'warts and all' as they say.

If you're expecting some attempt at humour then please read one of the earlier pieces where I have a go at Paul Hollywood and Greg Wallace. Or the time I beat a 70 year old in the Dad’s race at sports day. Things were definitely a lot simpler back then.

Some would call these pieces I write a journey, I fucking hate that phrase ‘a journey’ everybody on TV these days has to have a journey. People can’t just sing or bake without coming from somewhere or be heading to somewhere else. I reckon life would be far easier if we all stayed where the fuck we were.

So this isn’t my journey it’s just me, yes I may embellish the events and play up the Larry David persona a little but essentially what you see is what you get. 

I do worry sometimes that people don’t see the humour and think that I really am that much of a tool.

Earlier in the week I wrote about the horror of a family holiday. People may have read that and thought what a spoilt wanker, moaning about going on holiday, have a word with yourself.

The problem obviously wasn’t the holiday or the family, it was me. It’s always me. I know this.

I’m mental yes, stupid no.

I found it difficult being on holiday and subsequently my mood and behavior changed. I can spot the obvious signs but miss the more subtle ones. That’s the problem with my depression I get caught up in my own head and then stick two fingers up to the world around me.

I find it tough to be around people, especially those I haven’t seen for some time. I wait for the inevitable questions – How are you? Are you better? What’s happening with the business? What are you going to do in the future? What’s with the beard?

For some reason my beard seems to be a signal of some existential crisis, to me I simply don’t want to look like the person I was. Shit maybe they’re right!

I realise that people don’t ask out of malice but these aren’t conversations I relish, probably because I have no answers as yet. 

It’s weird I have no issue writing about it, I guess it’s because there’s a degree of anonymity and also I don’t think anyone really reads this anyway.

So to the holiday.

As the week progressed my sleeping deteriorated, lying awake from 2am with my brain shouting at me. I find that the hardest thing to cope with, it has such a negative impact on the next day but also gives me the fear of going to bed in the first place.

It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, if you go to bed thinking about not sleeping you can pretty much guarantee you’ll be staring at the clock in the early hours.

Anyway the point of this piece isn’t about me; it’s about the people who have to deal with me. I think the negative effect it has on them gets lost.

As I say no apologies for this.

Yesterday was the last day of the holiday, it should’ve been today but to be honest I’d had enough. So I manufactured our early exit by conforming that it was going to rain all day, there were road works and therefore the journey would be awful.

The girls wanted to spend the last day on the beach so off we went. I was in a foul mood, snappy, irritable and edgy. I wanted to be on my own.

It was a beautiful day, the tide was out and there was a huge expanse of beach to walk along. I put my headphones in and off I went. I had said where I was going so it didn’t seem like an issue. 

There was a pier in the distance so I had it in my mind that’s where I’d walk. Practicing my mindfulness techniques as I walked along.

It probably took 45 minutes to walk there and then I set off back, my mood having improved considerably, I was actually enjoying myself. After about 20 minutes I saw a figure walking toward me sobbing uncontrollably.

You see that’s the point, all week I’d been wrapped up in my head, blind to my actions and the signs.

Mrs.L had seen them, when I hadn’t returned after 45 minutes she set off to look for me. I had wanted to be on my own. She thought I’d gone to kill myself.

Personally depression is a horrible debilitating illness but worse than that it impacts the people around me and I just don’t see it.

Please don’t think I’m trying to be some kind of poster boy for depression, I’m not. Though if I could ask one thing it would be to check on the people who live with someone with depression, it really is shit for them.

I’m not looking for personal sympathy. Though it would be disrespectful not to mention the people who have shown me more kindness and support than I could ever imagine. 

Some are old friends who are stuck with me, many I hardly know but would now call friends. Whichever category you fall into I will always be grateful.

For the record I wasn’t contemplating it, I’m different to the person who thought about it earlier in the year.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Happy Holidays

In the words of Eric Morecambe “What do you think of it so far?” 

To be honest this is and always has been my general feelings towards holidays.

As an only child the thought of two weeks away with Mum & Dad never really appealed. They wouldn’t fly but insisted on going abroad, the South of France or Italy were often our annual destinations. My abiding memory is setting off from Leeds at some godforsaken hour so we could catch the Ferry from Dover to Calais. In a 2000 mile round trip timing was everything! I mean really 2000 miles in a crappy silver Ford Cortina with no gadgets to keep you amused and not being able to read as you were told you’d be sick. It’s a wonder I didn’t throw myself overboard as soon as the ferry had set off.

I’m always happiest at home and always have been. It sounds odd to say this when you’ve lived abroad but to me I guess that was home. I can take or leave holidays, the thought of sharing a plane and hotel with other people really doesn’t do it for me. I’m not exactly what you’d call a people person. No offence dear reader but in all likelihood I probably don’t like you. 

In no way let that prejudice your decision to read on, to be fair if you know me, follow me on twitter or have read my previous pieces you probably knew this already.

You can only imagine my delight when this year Mrs.L had organised for us to go away with her parents, sister and sisters children. A week in a converted barn near the North Norfolk Coast sounded charming. A week in a converted barn with 4 other adults and 5 children, 3 of which aren’t mine, not so much.

Now I’m not good with children, never have been. I wasn’t good as a child myself and could be a proper moody, spoilt little shit; to be fair not a lot has changed with me over the years.

I’m not good with my own children; I’ve given up getting them ready for school. They know the routine well enough by now; we have to be out of the house by 8:30 to get the school bus. So we always leave the house by 8:30 it’s just up to them what state of dress or rather undress they’re in. What’s that? You haven’t eaten your breakfast? Tough shit. Don’t get me wrong I’ll help if called upon but would rather listen to 6 Music than get involved in some petty squabble about who threw whose pants in the cereal and blew their nose on them (this actually happened a fortnight ago.)

To be fair I am waiting for a call from school telling me that sending them with one shoe and no pants is unacceptable.

Don’t get me wrong I do love my children to bits, but kind of think isn’t it time you got a job and moved out yet? (They’re 8 & 5)

You don’t need to be a genius to guess how I am with other people’s children. Mine I have to like, yours I don’t.

I am aware that it is only a holiday and for the majority of people a holiday isn’t a problem, for me it is. I haven’t spent any length of time with people this year. I actively seek solitude these days, the depression making me more unsociable than ever.

I do venture out of the house but on my terms with the safety net of being able to return home when I want or need to. This holiday really isn’t on my terms.

I had a bad week before this and could feel the familiar symptoms creeping up on me. Lack of sleep, restlessness, over analysing, convincing myself I’d upset people and generally being irritable and uncomfortable with myself.

Apologies to those with the misfortune of dealing with me this week.

I’ll be honest I was / am scared. A friend on twitter described it better than I ever could; there is a fear of even the slightest drop when you suffer from depression. You’re scared of any ‘normal’ low mood because it is too close to the horror of a depressive episode. I can’t face going through it again. I’m really trying to not think that way and put it down to a bad week pure and simple, we’re all allowed those from time to time.

It would have been very easy for me to simply not come. I could’ve stayed at home and with the dog, a bottle of rum and some books. But I didn’t, I put the rum and books in the car, followed by the girls and Mrs.L (priorities and all that!)

The journey down was shite, traffic jams the whole way and a 3 and a half hour journey became 5 hours. I broke my golden rule of ‘no stopping’ so Mrs.L could have a wee, I think I must be mellowing or it’s the pills, I’m not too sure which.

My packed lunch didn’t survive getting out of Yorkshire; I’d eaten my first sandwich 200 yards down the road.

By the time we arrived I was pretty much ready to murder someone, I even found myself yelling “STOP ASKING, YOU’RE NOT A BLOODY CHI…” managing to stop myself just short when asked how long until we’re there for the umpteenth time.

But all that said here I sit on holiday, everyone else has gone to the beach and I’m listening to music and writing this. It’s the first time I’ve been alone in 3 days. You’d think I would’ve done something better with my time.

I have been semi sociable, I’ve been to the beach and had a pint in what can only be described as a rough shithole of a pub with the father in law. To say we stood out is an understatement, for a start we were overdressed in a t-shirt and shorts plus we had more than 3 teeth between us (Me a snob? Never!)

The girls are having fun and I know that’s the main thing. I’m trying to, booze and books are definitely helping.

But no amount of alcohol or pills will ever make me celebrate or congratulate a 4 year old for the achievement of eating a potato. Sorry it’s never going to happen.

Well if these are my last words you know I didn’t survive another 5 days #PrayforAndy