“Can I cry my eyes out today and you cry yours out tomorrow?”


Posted by in March's Magazine

Sally Fraser feels a black dog cross her path; she must not disturb it, for it has things to tell her

I am slightly aware of a snuffling at my heels: the attention of an unwanted canine visitor, a metaphorical one, always the very worst kind, the most unwelcome Black Dog. As many of you will know, this presents a predicament. Ignore him, and he could get nasty. Give him too much attention and he might get too friendly, when he might just have otherwise left of his own accord.

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So I will most probably start up the same tedious routine. And it is tedious isn’t it? Depression can be agonisingly painful and brutal but it can also be monumentally dull. I am bored. Bored of my problems and bored of running from them, or heaving them around like something from a Samuel Beckett play, weighed down by useless burdens. 

So I will take action. Maybe I will fill in some questionnaires and see if I can hit that sweet spot of being Just The Right Amount Of Miserable to go on an eight-month waiting list for some kind of help, or maybe I will fork out for it myself, believing as I do every bloody time that this will be it, this will be the last therapy. 

I will find some poor unassuming counsellor and then have my usual dilemma of not knowing where, on the Richter scale of my life’s traumas, to pitch it at the beginning. Do I start small and crank it up? Do I blow my biggest hitters from the get-go? I usually start mid-range but then worry if they are too sympathetic they haven’t left themselves anywhere to go.

Or maybe I will manage with more creative means. I have already started yoga. This has helped enormously. I dug a 28 day yoga course book that I had when I was a teenager, off the shelf. I had to close the curtains of course, and cover the mirror, so that neither I nor anyone else has to see me flailing around with total lack of elegance and co-ordination, and crucially, I can delude myself that I am doing it just like the lady in the pictures.

I will of course, do all the other things you are supposed to do. I will not drink too much wine and I will eat lots of healthy food. I will do singing and piano playing and lots of other improving things, I will get lots of sleep (thanks to the yoga). I will reduce my aims, goals and standards as is always conducive to happiness, possibly limiting myself to getting through each week without swearing at anyone, at least not any priests or old ladies, and keeping on top of having enough sandwich fillings in the fridge. Anything above that will be a bonus.

And one way or another, if I take a few sensible measures and am reasonably nice to myself It Will Pass, as for me, thank God, it always does eventually. I will sit tight in the meantime. But I might not necessarily keep quiet. After all, we are awash with the idea that we need to end the stigma of mental health problems. My problems are of course mild but I would ideally like to not have to hold them in.

I would like, if someone asks me how I am, to be able to say that I am bloody miserable. I would like to say, excuse me, could you possibly be slightly nicer because I am having a bit of a difficult time? Or actually, could you possibly be slightly nicer in general because frankly the world is a very difficult place and maybe you could just assume that everyone in it really needs you to be as decent as you possibly can to them at any given time and then maybe it would actually be slightly less difficult WOULD IT NOT?

I would like to say, Could you give me a cuddle without thinking less or wanting more of me? Can I cry my eyes out today and you cry yours out tomorrow? Can we all be weak and strong at the same time?

I think we can. Or at least I hope so. But in the meantime I need to make the sandwiches and make a start on that cobra position. And if that dog is still sniffing around I had better take him for a walk. If you see us out and about together, say hello.

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