In-jokes are the best kind, eh Rach?
So, my last blog was written whilst I was in the grip of the worst depression I've had in a fairly long time. I'd been in a metaphorical hole for three days, with very little sunlight making its way in. Three days of constant blackness might not seem so bad, but when you're living it, believe me, it feels like a lifetime.
Thankfully, the fog has now lifted and it began to lift the very same day that I wrote that blog entry. I can't help but feel like the two things are related...
I've always been a talker. Ask my parents, friends and anyone else who knows me well and they'll probably tell you that there have been times when they've desperately wanted to search for the 'off'' button. I talked early - by two years old I was having fluent conversations - and I've never really stopped.
When I was two, I looked like a fully grown man. It's weird, I know.
The thing is, talking is the best way of untangling thoughts (besides writing them down, which... Well, I'm doing that right now... BLOGCEPTION). Once you've put your feelings into words, it's much easier to make sense of them. Until you do that, they're just a jumble of noise in your brain; confusing and scary. Trapping your feelings inside and never verbalising them is like continually scribbling on a piece of paper. Eventually, you press down harder and harder and keep going over the same spot, until something gives and the paper rips.
I've always been very self-analytical. I like to know why I think and feel the way I do. I like to be able to rationalise my actions and understand myself that bit better as a result. When I was in that metaphorical hole, for the first day or two, I was unable to really talk about why I felt the way I did. I just had these heavy feelings pushing down on my shoulders and I felt I had to internalise them, because I wasn't sure I entirely understood them. I knew that there were things going on that were making me sad, but I hadn't fully connected the dots, yet. I wasn't sure why I was reacting the way I was and that just made me even more frustrated than I was to begin with. I was managing to get out of bed, go to work and do everything I had to do, but inside, my mind was scribbling furiously at that imaginary sheet of paper and it was weakening under the pressure. A tear was inevitable.
That's when the talking started. And it started, because it had to. Because, if scribbling too hard on a piece of paper causes it to rip, I didn't fancy finding out what would happen to my head, if I carried on metaphorically scribbling all over my poor brain. It was time for some serious untangling.
It started with my mum. I got some stuff off my chest and she really listened and gave me the support (and hugs - lots of hugs) I needed. I emailed my friend Rachel and admitted to feeling depressed and not entirely knowing what to do about it. Then, my sister-in-law called me and I talked to her about the way I was feeling, too. And every time I spoke about it, the weight on my shoulders got a little lighter. The big, tangled mess of thoughts in my mind started to loosen, until it resembled a knot that even I - with my stubby fingers and flimsy, short nails - might be able to unpick.
I had a big heart-to-heart with my best friend and admitted to silly things I'd been keeping in, which I should have been more open about. That was a conversation that led to tears (of the "OH MY GOD, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH" variety, rather than the sad kind) and, eventually, a rap battle. My best friend and I are weird. And I wouldn't have us any other way.
She is Dan. I am Phil. Which means my number one crush is... Myself? Er...
The point is, the more talking I did, the better I started to feel. I'm not saying that all forms of depression can be magically cured just by having a damn good natter about it, but it's definitely a worthwhile starting point.
For what it's worth, almost a week since the black dog arrived on my shoulder, it's now off, chasing a squirrel or whatever it does when it's not with me. I can still see it, but I can't feel it anywhere near as much. And a big reason for that, is that I grabbed hold of that knot in my head and, with a little help from my friends (and family), I worked out ways of untangling it. I couldn't have done that if I'd left it in my head. I had to open up to make things better.
I guess I had two realisations, as a result of my most recent trip down the metaphorical hole of depression:
1) Talking is so important. I think you've probably got the gist of that by now, right?!
2) LISTENING is vital.
Seriously, had I not had amazingly supportive people to talk to in the first place, I wouldn't have shaken the storm cloud above my head anywhere near as fast. Sometimes, just having someone say "I'm here if you want to talk," even if you're not ready to do that yet, is so important. I've always been someone who tries to make herself available for others to talk to about stuff if they need to, but this most recent trip to the other side of that particular fence has made me all the more determined to keep doing that and to encourage others to do the same. If you want people to be there for you in your hour of need, you need to be there for them in theirs, after all.
The theme song is now kind of stuck in my head, not gonna lie...
I suppose what I'm trying to say is, if there's stuff in your head and you're getting to that point where you feel like your metaphorical paper is about to rip from all the internal scribbling, let it out, if you can. Talk to someone, write it down, talk to yourself if you think it'll help. Just don't keep it all inside.
And if you're on the other side of the equation and there's someone you think is going through their own hard time, just offer them a shoulder. You don't have to be great with advice; just listen. Sometimes that's all it takes.
It's good to talk. And it's good to listen. Heck, it's good to be good to each other. So let's all just keep doing that and the world will be a nicer place.