It’s been a terrible year, work wise. Apart from teaching a course at the OU which I think will be fun, and stretch me a bit, it’s been the Year of the Knockback so far. No nobody asked me to do this and nobody owes me a living but repeating that stuff to yourself doesn’t help. Neither does ‘it’s not personal’. If managing to make a living in the creative field (said in poncey voice) is about climbing a ladder, last year I steadily climbed without looking down. This year, it’s as though somebody slathered the ladder rungs with Vaseline and my legs are dangling.

It feels much like the current weather. Grey and dull and sluggish. I remember reading one of Dorothy Rowe’s brilliant books on depression and at one point she suggested describing the depression because by giving it a feel, a name, a tangible sense of being, it could help recognising its encroaching tentacles. I thought about this and decided my form of depression was greyness, a sense of being frozen and immobile. It’s one of the reasons I try to keep moving, both figuratively and literally. Going to the gym, or if you hate that, go for a walk. I don’t count my blessings but I do, on the advice of a mate, keep a Nice Things File. Very simple – you write down every single nice thing anyone has said about you or your work. Sounds cheesier than Welsh Rarebit but it’s funny how we can always remember with startling clarity the rotten, shitty thing that spotty Alan in primary school said: “Eurrghh – I wouldn’t go out with her if you paid me!” (acned little turd – and he was only 9) but we dismiss the really great things that people say.

The other thing is The Boy. When he was a baby, I was racked with PND. As a result I think he’s very attuned to my moods. If I’m feeling low and he asks how I am, I try to tell him the truth. Why lie? If you do, you’re telling the child to mistrust their own instincts. My mother used to retire to her room with ‘headaches’. Both my sister and I knew there was something else but we didn’t have the vocabulary and there was far less information and understanding about depression. But even when we were tiny, we knew it was more than a headache. And we were left feeling confused because mum would say she was fine but she looked so bleak and sad.

So I say I’m feeling bad, give as few details as possible and we hug. I think it’s better than putting on a brittle smile when it’s obvious that I’m not happy. That’s not to say I burden him with it – I’m always careful to reassure him that it’s got nothing to do with him. And it usually works because a few minutes later he’s usually his normal stroppy self.

Just flicked through my Nice Things File and both that, and writing this has made my mood inch up. But then I look out the window and see the sky, the off white grubby shade of ancient knickers, and it sinks again. Never mind matching your underwear to your clothes, my mood matches the sky.

7 thoughts on “Grey

  1. you ‘ve had things TRANSMITTED!!! People listened to them and loved them. And before that, someone read them and decided, all on their own, that they were GOOD. In fact, good enough to produce and put out, over all the other stuff that had. You. Are. Talented. Put that in your little nice things box!And tomorrow will be better….PS I’ve been reading your blog for ages now and never commented, but I love how you write. I love all your little stories about The Boy (you’re obviously a great parent) and your advice and experience on writing (I still haven’t had anything produced (Boo!!), but I’ll get there…). Long may you continue. 🙂


  2. Depression is a nasty thing, but I think once you recognise its tentacles approaching, it gets a bit easier to cope – you know what will happen, and how you will feel and why, and I think you can, to an extent counteract it. I tend to go off and do things on my own which give me that extra bit of pleasure that no one else gets from doing the same things, like scoffing a massive bar of chocolate – bad, but it’s a devilish pleasure, or I go and see something new. A few years ago I suffered really badly from depression and I vowed to go somewhere new each month. I managed to get to so many new places, museums, galleries, cafes. Even parts of town I had heard about and had never seen before.Hope the mood lightens for you.


  3. I think your writing is great. I know that sounds as if I’m trying to slice you an apple and dip it in brown sugar, but I’m not. There is so much shite out there in blog-land that stumbling upon little gems like you makes the world a better place for us mere mortals.I hope your ‘grey’ becomes sunnier very soon.


  4. Absolutely! One of the “hidden” illnesses. It’s also one of those things that means admitting weakness, not being able to cope, etc and people find that hard to deal with. Plus, people can get very emotional when they are depressed. My mum suffered from really heavy depression and she would literally physically collapse at times from the emotion tearing out of her. It was heart-breaking at times and scary. But what was interesting was the extent to which people couldn’t deal with it. They literally used to walk away or pretend it wasn’t happening. Gotta script in there….Anyway!!! Glad you’re feeling better, Jane.


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