Sunday, 25 March 2018


As my eyes opened this morning, I was immediately aware of its strength.  

Phwhooo, this one is a doozy: a real humdinger.

‘Oh boy, here we go again!’ I thought to myself, remembering how strange I’d felt yesterday evening, as if I was coming down with something.

Turns out I was. I don’t care whether depression is an illness, a condition or a disease. As far as I’m concerned, you can call it whatever you want.

It’s back.

People often tell me I’m brave to write about depression, but I genuinely don’t feel it. The only reason I’m writing about my mental state today is that, given the force of this dose, I’m unable to write about anything else.

At the risk of sounding tediously liberal, I can’t see the difference between one bodily function and another. 

Well, yes I can, in that I don’t eat through my botty or pooh out my mouth (although some might beg to differ) but where others think of the mind as a separate entity, I perceive it solely as part of my body; my oneness.

I don’t separate the mind that creates the thought from the fingers that somehow magically tap it into the computer.

The fact that my brainbox does things that many others do not feels no more significant than my two squeezed vertebrae. If I were really brave, I’d be writing about why I use a certain cream, but you’ll be delighted to hear I’ve no intention of telling you that.

Thanks to an ace physiotherapist, who gave me ten stretches to do each morning, I can now live free of back pain. 

Although I’m in awe of the way those stretches make my whole body feel after a few days, I’m very human, so when the pain goes, I become lazy, complacent and forget to do them.

Then I go and do something stupid in the garden, involving wheelbarrows and sweat, and I’m crippled again, back on the anti-inflammatories and morning stretches.

As with my back so with my brain: both are vulnerable, both prone to causing pain, but the great thing is that I know it.

Both come and both will pass.

Don’t think anyone with back pain would approach me in the streets of Galway and hug me and cry on my shoulder, as through mouthfuls of my tweed coat they tell me how my colyoom about mental machinations helped them so much, because they felt less alone.

The Irish have made great strides towards removing the stigma of mental health, but holy guacamole, Batman, seriously? In 2018 people still feel utterly isolated, merely because they have depression?

I know they do, as lonely hordes contact me in large numbers whenever I write about it, and that is way more upsetting than being depressed.

I’m glad to be there for them as they explain how they suffer from depression. Knowing better than to try and cheer them up, the only advice I ever give is to suggest that they change the way they describe it.

I tell myself and others that I live with depression, just as I live with back pain. It’s part of who I am: it comes and goes and if I want to make the effort, there are things I can do to help myself.

I absolutely refuse to say I suffer from depression, because I don’t want to turn my own brain into an enemy. I live with it, as when it’s not there, I don’t suffer any more than I do from back pain when there is none.

My mental equivalents of back stretches are mostly found outdoors. To nourish my soul I’ll walk an empty Connemara beach, feeling insignificant in face of the constancy of the tides and the permanence of towering cliffs.

To nurture my spirit I’ll work on the attainment of wisdom. In my tiny philosophy of life, I reckon that wisdom comes from a cocktail of knowledge and experience. As long as I continue to both learn and do, then I will learn from the doing and do what I have learned.

“Spare me your fancy shmancy guru babble!” you cry, but let me explain.

Experience has taught me that depression is a part of my life. Bizarrely, sometimes it hits at the happiest of times, but this one right now comes as no surprise.

My life has been extremely testing for a long while, and when confusion and frustration meet exhaustion, they conspire together and kick open the door to depression.

Thankfully I’ve learned from my own process what works and what doesn’t. Aided by the sure knowledge that it will pass, I’ll do what I can to help myself.

I will reach out to friends, and tell them I’m hurting.
I will allow myself to cry if that’s what I need to do.
I will roar loud and wild, like a savage beast.
I will talk to my head doctor about it, just as I would go to my body doctor if something physical was awry.

I will give thanks, for my friends, my family, for the wonders of nature and breathing.    

I will know, always, that it will pass.

Maybe it will be gone in five minutes. Maybe it’ll still be upon me when you read this, but I don’t care.

I cannot make it go away, any more than I can swap squashed vertebrae for fresh ones. 

It’s who I am and I am not broken. 

I’m just someone whose brain gets gripped in a vice; someone whose perception of the world changes, in a manner akin to that of being drunk, except that instead of levity and fun, my altered state offers only desperation and dread.

To be honest it’s brutal right now, yet on my way out of this dose I will hopefully enjoy a manic upswing, equally as mad as depression, but crammed with a fantastically joyous and creative energy.

I’ll take the darkness every time, if in exchange I can experience that uniquely vital feeling.

©Charlie Adley

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