Monday, 27 June 2011

Me and my shadow

What follows is not a cry for help or an example of Mental
Illness-chic. It is not meant to be entertaining or amusing. It certainly isn’t
an attention seeking way of gaining sympathy. I’m only actually writing this to
see if I can actually do it. Let me explain.

As a child I was in every sense a daft bugger –a clown. I
spent more hours in my bedroom as punishment for sniggering when my siblings
were being bollocked, and making dopey remarks about how funny it was to see my
Ma’s eyes bulging like the spiritual bloke from Kung Fu. I was regularly
slippered or rulered at school for the same thing. To me there was nothing
funnier than an irate teacher at the end of their tether. To be honest I still
think it’s hilarious.

At the time I didn’t realise that this behaviour was masking
an internal shadow that has stayed with me ever since. Unknown to many people,
I was not the tit I portrayed; I was in fact cripplingly shy. Or so I thought.

I couldn’t bring myself to do anything that I felt people
could judge me on. I was petrified that they would see my school work or hear
me read and think, that Ian is not only a tosser but stupid with it. It held me
back; it still does.

I remember reading a lesson in church (now a seriously
lapsed Anglican – notice how that doesn’t sound as cool as lapsed Catholic?)
and being physically sick for weeks before I actually did it. I just thought it
was me being, well, shy and over anxious to be liked.

Another thing, I didn’t take criticism, constructive or
otherwise, well.  I immediately assumed a
passive position. My attitude being ‘You’re right, I am thick and dumb and yes
I could be slimmer and more proactive’ Again, I was so desperate to be though I
did hate this pathetic need for constant reassurance.

So I took this behaviour (was it learned or innate?) into
young adulthood. I always wanted to be a writer or do something arty to please
others. I couldn’t do it though. I couldn’t do it because I never felt my best
was good enough and that it would be deemed a steaming pile of shit. I couldn’t
write a sentence like Alan Bennent, so I bloody well won’t write one at all. I
dealt with it by putting it down to shyness.

I blamed that for my social clumsiness too. I used to enjoy
going out at the weekend but relied on others to prop me up and make the effort
to invite me out. Whilst out I was constantly shitting myself, worrying what
everyone was thinking of me. I never dared to go out on ‘the pull’. The thought
immediately put out of my mind as no one would look for one second at a podgy,
nail biting loser with a low forehead and sub Tony Hadley hair. Eye contact?
You must be joking.The fact that I did meet and marry someone is still one of
the wonders of my world.

This insecurity, lack of confidence and general social
retardation was a problem but I didn’t consider it anything other than how I
was. The label depressive didn’t even cross my mind. Depression was something
that happened to drunks and people in soap operas. I wasn’t a depressive, I was
me: a twit with a pathetic neediness to be wanted and loved.

As I got older the symptoms became worse, I became solitary
– not easy on my other half believe me – anti social and pretty much
hermitically sealed in my own mind. All I could think about was me and whether
anything I did was good enough. I stopped pretty much everything for fear of
rejection. I had nothing to offer. I was a rubbish husband, dad, teacher, and
friend. I was a failure a useless, bloated wanker. The thought of doing what
I’m doing now- writing this- was inconceivable. I lost friends, who gave up on
me. My marriage was suffering.

I really was becoming everything I actually wasn’t or wanted
to be.

About a year ago I decided, or more to the point we decided,
that enough was enough. I needed help. The tears, the self-loathing and utter
misery had to stop. So I had therapy. In a 16 week period I had my whole life
deconstructed and assembled again. It was the first time I had ever seriously
evaluated my life in its entirety. Some of it was truly bloody awful; other
bits much better than I remembered. It was one of the few times I’d ever asked
anyone for help.

 I also started taking SSRis. I can’t tell you how difficult a decision it was, but that’s what
depression does; it stops your brain from functioning properly, then your body,
and in the end your life.

The process of recovery from depression is long and on-going.
I still am gripped at times with self-doubt and loathing. I still think I’m not
particularly bright and an ugly bugger, but I’m more able to deal with it. Most
of the time.  I am, however, recovering.
The fact that I’ve written this and am happy for you to read it is a major step
forward for me. I know it’s not the best thing you’ve ever read. I know it
could be alot better, but I don’t care.

Right I’ve said enough.