Editors note: This is the fourth in a monthly series of guest posts on the subject of mental health. For January 2011 Chris Rugg has felt able to share his experiences. These brave words were first published on Chris’s own blog at Wurzelmeone, and I have featured Chris and his work to raise awareness of arachnoid cyst and mental health issues before on this blog in ‘and the winner is…’ and ‘Two causes…’
Chris is also keen to raise awareness through his poetry, and ‘I’m Fine’ is his own personal favourite.
Clinical depression is the malignant all-pervading vinegar, which sours mind, body and soul, it knows no barriers and does not distinguish between race, creed, colour or class. Therefore, no matter what they may think no one is immune from this, or any other form of mental distress.
Those looking in ask, “What’s wrong?” Unless they are here or have been here, I cannot explain. It is not like a sore throat for which you suck a lozenge, or a broken bone, which you repair with a plaster cast, I wish it were that simple. Unfortunately, there are no lozenges or plaster casts for the mind, though there are anti-depressants. Without them, I would be a damn sight worse; or dead.
To lie in bed at night with every muscle, bone and sinew aching for sleep with a mind which is fully awake and racing with thoughts that do not allow sleep, is at times, almost insufferable. Hamlet in his soliloquy “To be or not to be” says, “To sleep: perchance to dream:” a more apt version would be “To sleep: perchance to rest:” Real sleep is nothing but an elusive daydream, if it were not dark at night I would know every inch of my ceiling and every cobweb and spider that lurks there! The nearest I get to sleeping is the short period of deep uneasy “sleep” towards the end of the night, from which I wake exhausted.
Moods swing from high to low, low to high within hours with no apparent reason; it is as though mood is a separate being in total control of one’s mind and essence. The highs do not last very long perhaps five or six hours at most, whereas the lows can last anything from a few hours to several weeks. Over the years, I have developed ways and means to hide or mask my moods from friends, relatives and work colleagues. Only two or three of my very close friends can see through the mask.
A couple of years ago while out walking I met an old work colleague. He was a “stiff upper lip, pull yourself together” sort of person who thought that people with a mental illness were either “lead swingers” or homicidal maniacs. After a brief exchange of greetings we parted. The following is a record of that exchange of words and what I thought at the time, that meeting was also my inspiration for I’m Fine.
“Hello Chris you’re looking well, I thought you were ill!”
Look into my eyes; see the countless private tears they have wept
See the overwhelming weariness, which makes my body ache
See the sleepless nights too many to remember
See the turmoil and pain which is my mind
Feel the moods so dark, so powerful they have substance
Feel the weight of thoughts so heavy they cannot move
Feel the blameless guilt and shame so undeniable
I want to shout SORRY!! For what I do not know
All of these hidden behind a thin veneer
A thin veneer of false happiness and well-being
These and so much more
Just the tip of the iceberg that is Depression
Should I say? No, I’d better not.
“Thank you, yes, I’m fine, how are you?”
My thanks to Chris for taking part in the monthly mental health posts on this blog. Please take the time to visit his own pages on Wurzelmeone.
There are a lot of really useful liks to organisations that can help if you are affected by depression. See my Mental Health page for more details.