Today is Sunday, and I thought I’d write to you today as it’s my most restful day of the week, when I can take time to look at the world and my small part in it. I’ve been back at work four months now, after nine months off with what the doctors called ‘a moderate depressive episode.’ I suppose that’s their way of describing someone who isn’t suicidal but, believe me, it felt pretty serious to me. It was the second time this has happened to me: the first time was some six years ago, and I was off work for three months then. I’ve had a lot of help to get me back together and I hope that you have the same, as it can make such a difference not to go through this alone.
So, how are you? How long have you been feeling like this? Are you at the stage where you don’t want to see or talk to anyone, where you can’t be bothered to get yourself ready to face the world? Do you cry at the slightest little thing? Can you still enjoy the things that usually make you happy – sport, music, movies, books or whatever – or can’t you face them? I went through all of that. I was diagnosed just over a year ago but, looking back, I’d been slipping for a long time before then, but I just wasn’t ready to admit it to myself. I won’t kid you that it’s an easy thing to overcome, because it isn’t. But the best advice I can possibly give you is: take the advice you’re being given. Not by me, but by the various professionals telling you to take the air and some exercise, to eat properly, to set yourself little goals to achieve, and everything else they’ll be saying to you. It may not seem like it right now, but they know what they’re talking about. Accept the support of those who love you, don’t shut them out. It’s all very easy for me to say now that I’m ‘better,’ but these things do make a big difference. It just may take some time, so as the old saying goes ‘patience is a virtue.’ Small steps forward lead to bigger ones.
Now, I’m going to share a secret with you. Look back to what I said at the start, about how I feel on Sundays and being ‘better.’ It isn’t always that simple, I’m afraid. I may be better, but that means better than I was, not ‘completely cured,’ if that can ever happen – I keep the hope that it will. I’m in what my psychiatrist calls ‘recovery mode’, which means that I’m improving but still need some support, just not as much as before. I still have my ‘black dog’ days, when I can’t face doing anything or talking to anyone. I’m having one of them now, in fact. It came on yesterday evening, and will last the rest of today. Or it might not, I don’t know, it comes and goes. But the big difference is that these happen much less often than they used to, when every day was a black dog day. The last one was 7 weeks ago, so it isn’t that much of a problem any more. The big difference is that, with all the help I’ve had, I’m now able to recognise when this happens and have developed a coping strategy for it. You will also reach that stage, I’m sure of it. And that’s when you’ll know that you’re winning.
So, take care, keep going, and above all never, ever, lose faith in yourself. The world may be a big place, but you are an important part of it, so don’t lose sight of that. I’ll see you on the bright side soon, my friend.
Here is a link to Clive's blog