This blog post is going to be very personal. I know that the nature of blogs mean that they should be, but for the most part this place has always been about my writing. Primarily, anyway. This one’s about me. I’m gonna share some stuff that I’ve never really said before to many people, and some of it might shock you. If you’re uncomfortable with that, then don’t read it. But yeah. Let’s go.
Essentially this is about depression and its antithesis. Broadly speaking, it’s about being happy and being sad.
I had a happy childhood. I was popular and good at school, I didn’t have a care in the world, I had (and still have) a fantastic family. The only thing that wasn’t quite normal was that I was particularly shy and introverted. But some kids are, I guess.
Then I went to college to do my A Levels and I came out of my shell quite a lot. Those were genuinely the two best years of my life. If I could pick one point in time to go back to, it would be when I was 16 and about to start at Brockenhurst. It was perfect for my requirements at the time and I’d recommend the place to anyone.
Then came the leap to University. I’d always wanted to go to Uni because, to be frank, the only thing I’ve ever been good at is learning. I’m a bit rubbish at putting what I learn into practical use, but I do enjoy finding out things about the world. What I wasn’t so happy with was moving out. All of the Unis I applied to were within an hour’s train journey of my house – Bournemouth (in this case, literally five minutes walk from my front door), Southampton Solent, Winchester and Portsmouth. I intended to commute. And then, on the advice of my personal tutor at Brock, plus my parents, mixed in with a bit of my newly-discovered self-confidence, I decided that I would try and live on-campus at Winchester.
That decision, I can say categorically, is the worst decision I have ever made.
I was in no way ready to make that leap, even at the age of 18. I didn’t even stay my first night in my Hall, I went back home. The rest of the year, I spent 2 nights a week on campus and the rest back in Bournemouth. I’m not going to go into too much detail, but the simple fact is that my first year at Winchester sapped every single molecule of self-confidence that I had ever built up, and forced me back further into my shell than I ever had been.
The next two years were better but I still didn’t creep out into the world. And then I started work, and that – as is pretty well documented – didn’t exactly help matters. The day I broke down in tears in my office was the day I realised I’d had enough. So I left a month later.
And here I am.
What I’m trying to say is that I’ve been very depressed, upset, and worried every single day for the past five years. That might sound like a ridiculous hyperbole, but it’s true. Every. Day. I’ve just gotten exceptionally good at wearing my mask. Nobody has ever really picked up on it.
So why I am I bringing this up now?
Well at the start of this year I decided that enough was enough. I was going to be happy. More than that: I would endeavour to make as many other people happy as possible. Because there’s too much sadness in this world.
And things were going well. On the whole, I’ve been much happier. In fact, since March, I’ve been ecstatically happy, because I’ve found someone who makes me happy. Which is such a nice feeling I can’t begin to tell you. (No details, sorry, I know I said this was going to be personal but there are still some things I like to keep private, at least for now.)
But this week…this week has been tough.
There’s no real particular reason for it. That’s the irritating thing. It’s just a general sense of hopelessness and failure and worthlessness. My happy has gone. But what’s even more irritating is that I’ve lost my mask. I can’t seem to remember how to wear it any more. Most of the people I’ve spoken to this week have said something to the effect of ‘Are you OK? You don’t seem very happy.’ Which I’ve never had before. I don’t like feeling like this. I don’t like wearing a mask, though, I’d much rather be myself. Although if I was myself I don’t think anyone would like me at all, so I don’t want to take the risk.
I don’t really know where I’m going with this any more. I just wanted to write something. But there is one thing I want to say.
If you’re reading this right now, think of something that makes you happy. A person. An object. An activity. A pet. Anything. Close your eyes. Keep that thought. Don’t let it go. Imagine that thing in front of you. Imagine it so hard that it could be there. Reach out and grab it. Bring it close to you. Smile.
We don’t have very long on this planet. You might as well try and spend it with a smile on your face.
I can’t do that for very long. But I hope you can. I’m jealous of you.