A month ago my friend Soldier Boy gave me a T-Shirt printed with the slogan:
'I hate being bipolar - it’s great!'
Thankfully I’m not bipolar, but I do live with depression. I refuse to say ‘suffer’ from depression, because there are benefits to this condition. When the darkness lifts I enjoy a (manic?) upswing of utter clarity, accompanied by an energetic boost which I would never choose to live without. Anyway, there are an infinite amount of levels of depression. It’s not just a matter of being ‘depressed’ or ‘happy’.
For the past few weeks I’ve been trapped in what I call low-level depression, whereby I’m able to function, exercise and even appear to be having a good time, while privately I’m feeling horribly vulnerable, with tears permanently half an inch behind my eyes, unable to focus mentally, unsure who or why I am.
This present episode, which I’m calling The Toilet Seat Depression, has come at a really frustrating and most unwelcome time, as right now life is good. I am happy, and have much to be grateful for.
It’s bloody inconvenient and I wish it’d just go away. I know that one bright morning I will awake and feel myself again (that didn’t come out quite right, but I’ll leave it to your imagination, my poor colyoomistas). That happy morning will start at 7 or 8 am, and not at 4.56 am, which is where my days are starting while I’m going through this mental chicane.
In my bad old days, depression used to knock me off my feet. I’d be immobile, alienated and useless, but since I’ve been taking omega fish oil supplements, the frequency of truly dark depressions has lessened dramatically. I don’t know whether this is a purely psychosomatic reaction, or whether there are medical reasons why it works, and I don’t care. I’ll take what I’m going through now over my old-style mental prison any day.
But, as I said, it’s very frustrating, because this is a period of time that I want to enjoy, to live to the full, and to be so tantalisingly close to happiness yet so far from fully grasping it is maddening.
So what’s all this about toilet seats?
Well, a month ago it was the Snapper’s birthday, and being a dutiful husband I’d taken note when she complained that the toilet seat in our new home felt so cold on her delicate female butt cheeks that she found it hard to fulfil her lavatorial destiny.
‘Aha!’ I thought to myself. ‘I will buy her a wooden toilet seat, which perchance, unlike the existing one, will be able to remain upright, so that I can finally take a stand-up manly peeper in my own home, while herself can perform her duties without going into shock.’
So in what very possibly qualifies as the least romantic birthday present of all time, I wrapped up the wooden toilet seat and presented it to her on her birthday morning. In my defence, I had also arranged for her to enjoy several extremely romantic presents, none of which were wrappable. A calla lily was planted in the garden, just as she had requested; she enjoyed a tea party with her friends and a posh dinner out with her loving husband.
But you have to unwrap something on your birthday morning, and she laughed as she supped on her glass of bubbles, thanking me as much as anyone can thank another for a toilet seat.
A few days later, when I found myself in this funky mental rut and unable to scribble at this keyboard, I decided to fit the new wooden seat.
Sadly, at the best of times I am far from a wizard with a screwdriver, and this seat came with a dearth of instruction and a plethora of washers, bolts and nuts, but I could not then and still cannot accept that a grown-up almost intelligent man in charge of his limbs might be unable to fit a toilet seat.
So I lay on my back and fiddled and screwed and placed the washer here and the bolt fell off there. I muttered and twisted and pushed and pulled and finally, it all seemed to be done, except as soon as I tested the seat with my voluptuous arse, it proved dangerously mobile, off-centre and unstable - 3 things that you just don't want in a toilet seat.
Since then I’ve had several more bouts with it, lying dirty sweaty agitated and disgruntled on the bathroom floor, scrunched and twisted into several anti-yogic positions, squashed between the bath and the wall, with washers dropping into the bowl, screws falling into my eyes and patience a thing of the past.
As I sit here today, the seat is only attached on one side, and the lid falls down against your back when you sit on it. Despite herself’s request that I replace it with the old one, I’m now unable to remove the new one as there is a bolt that just will not budge.
Yesterday I called my friend The Guru for help, so by the time you read this I’m sure he’ll have sorted it, but the fitting of this damned seat has coincided with those feelings of self-doubt which come to the fore when my poor old brainbox is addled by depression.
I knew I should never have attempted to fix it while in this state, but I’m a stubborn fool, who finds it tremendously difficult to come to terms with my own mental weakness.
Indeed, the most unerringly reliable first sign of depression coming along is my own refusal to accept that there’s a depression coming along. For a couple of months I live in denial, doggedly carrying on as if nothing has changed in my cerebellum, until such time as I’m forced to accept that I can’t manage to do what I usually can.
I can’t fix a bloody toilet seat.