#6: The Fight
(Originally published in January 2011.)
Nearer the end of the counselling sessions, a familiar trait of my mild depression came back.
I’d talked about the ‘mental gagging order’ in part 3, but I want to go over some of it again in a new way.
This ‘gagging order’ occurs when a conventional task, such as getting up in the morning, is suddenly near-impossible to do.
For example: Usually the little motivational voice inside every one of us will kick in upon waking up, telling you to get up and go (wherever that may be). The voice isn’t always vocal, but it is there, and it crucially keeps us all ticking over.
It’ll pop up at other vital moments in the day, such as bringing you ‘back into the room’ if you’ve started daydreaming, or get you to cut to the crap if you’re faffing around.
But one day when the gagging order returned, I was unable to do any of these things properly. It felt like the depression had lurked out of the shadows, put a gun to the voice, and told it to be quiet even though my body was ‘awaiting orders’.
As a result, all I could do was lay there. I knew what I had to do (get up for work), and how long it would take me (about 40 minutes), and how important it was to do this (very bloody urgent!), but I just. Couldn’t. Move.
I had that sinking feeling returning, and it was slowly paralysing me, wanting me to fail. Getting out of bed and ready for work was like fighting against not just a ‘dead arm’ that you’ve slept on, but a mind, too.
More often than not, it’s easy to embrace the negativity and sink back into an anaesthetised purgatory, feeling like every day for the next month is a Bank Holiday and it’s pissing down all the time as usual – what’s the rush, right? Nothing good will happen in the meantime:
"I won’t be missed by my peers, and my boss will ring up, telling me never to come back in again after missing work - meaning I’ve failed, which is what I want to do - so I can just enjoy the sadness and the lack of any meaning to any part of my life. See? I’m a fuck-up. I can’t sort out your problems, I can’t be a good role model, and I can’t live up to any positive expectations. Happy now?"
Meanwhile, the voice that normally fires you up is stood there, cries muffled, as the body knows it has to do something, but – silly Billy! – has forgotten, and decides to go back to sleep again as there’s no rush, right? Normally something tells it what to do, but it’s not there today…
The depressive thought steadily seeps into the folds and endless corridors of the brain, clouding over all the work you’ve done to eradicate it, messing up vast chalkboards of past history and your impressions of what you feel people think of you right now – and may have done in the past.
As clinical as re-formatting a hard-drive, there seems to be no emotional core within, trying – begging - to make you remember what it could be like, if you could only just fight back.
Fortunately, I’d already had about seven months of my counselling by then, and I was able to use the trump card – the heart and soul.
[EDIT: I know that sounds really wanky, but bear with me a moment…]