Sunday, 3 May 2020


Recovery is the goal of all those affected by depression and/or other mental illnesses. Mental health practitioners talk endlessly about it. The world is full of recovery clinics and recovery cafes and recovery colleges. And it's certainly the case that people can recover fully from clinical depression. William Styron did, Andrew Soloman did, Jan Wong did, Mark Rice-Oxley did. It can take a long time and it can be an epic struggle but full recovery is possible. Some people even come to thank their depression for bringing about change in their lives - for opening up new perspectives on life.

But depression memoirs, of which there are now a few, invariably end happily. The hero goes to hell and comes back. The struggle may be epic but the hero always triumphs over adversary. However, we have to bear in mind that very few publishers would touch a depression memoir without a happy ending. Depression is not normally a best selling topic anyway (unless you're Matt Haig) and one that ends in despair is unlikely to sell well.

But what if recovery is not happening for you? Maybe, you've only partly recovered or maybe you've had a relapse. Technically the advice is that you should never give up. Like Winston Churchill said: 'if you're going through hell, keep going'. Clinical depression can lift. The notoriously melancholic songwriter Leonard Cohen shrugged it off in his 60s.

As this is an honest blog, I have to admit that I haven't fully recovered. I wish I had but I haven't. I've fought really hard for five years - but I'm still hanging onto the cliff. In the eyes of the outside world, I might pass for normal: I hold down a job at a garden centre, I walk the dog each morning, I go to the shop, I go on holiday with my family. I even have sex. But, on the inside I don't feel very well. Each day is still a battle against distressing thoughts and dizziness. There are moments of relief - like when I'm scrolling through Twitter or driving in the car with my music on or when I'm writing this blog - but they are very short. The big bully voice of rumination soon returns.

No comments:

Post a comment