#1: The Diagnosis
(Originally published in 2009.)
Normally, the first few passages of an article are the hardest to write.
Just like writing an essay, everything else in the document flows together in your mind like a beautiful dream, as you envisage yourself in a film montage, typing away and creating the next piece of literary genius for the world to fawn over.
Then reality kicks in, and you find yourself staring at a blank screen, with the same literary nous as a poodle with no legs. This one was slightly different, however, as I knew exactly what to say to kick things off:
This article will deal with my ongoing relationship with mild depression.
There. That was pretty simple, really. That opening line also tackles a few of the six w’s that are the cornerstone of any journalistic opening, but this isn’t the time for newsroom lessons.
I was ‘diagnosed’, if you will, about 18 months ago by my then GP, who has since moved on - but I don’t hold it against him. The first reaction to the news in my head was a tongue-in-cheek, “If you think I’m bad now, you should’ve seen me a few years ago.” Somewhat wisely, I refrained from letting that quip out of my mouth.
The initial reactions ranged mainly from annoyance to denial. The reason for those feelings was down to how I was tested. A program on the doctor’s computer asked me a questionnaire based around my general well-being, with my answers fitting in a pre-determined list.
Quite often my actual answers didn’t really fit in with the answers, leaving me feeling that if I was about to be strapped into a strait-jacket, I wasn‘t going to do a very good job as the new Randle Patrick McMurphy.
Film jibes aside, I hadn’t ended up at my local surgery because I had gotten into trouble with the law, or because I had threatened to jump off a bridge. As methodical as it sounds, I realised I was becoming increasingly upset, distressed and unattached to reality, and decided to do something about it before I did break the law, or threaten to jump off a bridge.
The latter would’ve been quite a battle of wits too, as I’m terrified of heights.
I know, right?