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Rock Maze
  • Writer's pictureNeil

Greta Garbo and The Black Dog

I’m thinking about depression. This is a word liberally chucked about at the moment along with a load of other mental health jargon. There’s no doubt that depression is a real issue. Have I had moments in my life that I have experienced depression? I probably have, but in an undiagnosed way. Sometimes like Greta Garbo “ I want to be left alone”. It doesn't matter how much I like to be with family and friends I’m just not always good company. Sometimes I can be proper miserable. Fortunately, for me, it's rare.

But try 3 months of crappy chemo with the prospect, if I'm lucky, of 3 months more. There's a chemo slippery slope and I'm on it. It's like a slow slide into increasingly worsening side effects. If I started off feeling 100% healthy just before my chemo started then I’m probably at 60% now. As time passes the slope gets increasingly steep. The prospect of spending the darkest, dampest, coldest, miserablest (if that’s a word) time of the year, during a pandemic feeling crappy then you have potential recipe for depression. Enter the Black Dog.

I’m beginning to form a theory that the reason I’m probably not depressed is because I spend an inordinate amount of time guarding against it. And it’s exhausting.

I’m not a person that writes lists, in fact I really don’t like lists, especially now. For a list person it’s a form of organisation no doubt, a way to plan and a nice way to register achievement. For me it’s a constant reminder of failure, that time is running out, that my work here will never be done. How very depressing. I understand lists I can just do without them. I rarely write a list even for shopping. What I can't hold in my head I don’t need to know.

The collection of jobs I want to do around the house isn’t a list (Although Tricia probably has one written somewhere) it’s just a collection of thoughts somewhere in my increasingly muddled, inefficient grey cells.

It’s all a part of my coping strategies. Don’t think too far ahead. Christmas, pfftt. Not registering in my head yet. It’s still November FFS.

However Christmas is beginning to sneak into my consciousness, why? Because there's our unique scaffold board tree that needs re-making and a whole stack of outside lights that this year I may finally put up. They need checking.

My safeguard against the Black Dog is activity. Yesterday, Saturday, I didn’t have much to do. The kitchen installation has ground to a halt. We’re still waiting for some key components to arrive and until they get here we can’t start using it. I sorted out the Christmas tree but that only took 11 small screws. Checked out the outside lights, 10 minutes max. Ordered a funky addition to the kitchen. A few taps on a tablet. TBH yesterday I was twiddling my thumbs far too much. I couldn't settle, I was even irritated with “Saturday Kitchen". Not a good day.

My “idle hands” syndrome didn’t really recede all day. And that meant my barrier against negativity started to drop. Miserable thoughts started to creep in. And like Pringles, they just don’t stop. I’m feeling unwell. I'm beginning to think that I’m probably not going to feel well ever again. I’m tired, I rarely have a good night’s sleep.

Then the big ones arrive. The Black Dog thoughts. The thoughts that make me tearful. There’s no rationale here either. Here's an example if what happens when I drop my guard. In my shed I have 2 boxes of wood chisels I’ve accumulated over the years. I’m ok so far. Then I see a brand new set of pristine new chisels, my retirement set, and I think I’ll probably never use them. That brings me to looking around my shed, my tools, my ephemera and paraphernalia and I feel as if I'm looking at it for the last time. Sometimes its very hard to hold it all in.

The new utility room in the house, when we finally reorganise, it’s the perfect spot for a nice shadow board for my tools, including those bloody chisels. But I think “someone else might do that, probably not me”. I even get to thinking about ..... nope not saying, too painful!

So back to strategies. Or my mental collection of things to do. Not a list.

Later today, take my trailer to Tricia’s mum’s house to load with stuff for the dump. A nice practical activity. Good, however because some knob has decided only certain cars on certain days can go to the dump I’m only able to go on Monday. I bet that decision was made by someone who had just learnt to count!

Before that I need to empty my car of the TV, sky box, DVD player and video player. Clean it all up, find out what's working and what's not. Then decide what to keep and what to dump. Not very much to keep me occupied but at least it’s something. Then it’s back to twiddling my thumbs.

But anyway my head seems to be in a better place today and on Tuesday at 10am you can cheer me right up join me for a virtual coffee break by joining my Zoom Meeting Meeting ID: 955 027 2972 Passcode: 9RktZt

In the meantime; Bugger off Black Dog.

I think I'm going to bake a cake.

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