Today is World Mental Health Day, and so I decided to give you a little insight into how I created one of the most personal poems in my latest book, “Depression Is Not Real?” from Home Wrecker.
Firstly, I had to acknowledge that depression is in fact real. It isn’t that I had doubted that, I was well aware of it being a real thing, I just didn’t think it was a real thing for me. When I was twenty two, I was at one of the lowest points in my life (so far). I had lost people close to me, I had just broken up with my fiance, my wrestling career had gone to shit before it had even really got going, I couldn’t find a job, and I felt worthless. My very first published book, Tiffany, Pls (sorry Stormy Weather) had been a commercial failure, because I’d yet to learn about marketing, and wasn’t ready at all to be releasing things. Also, it wasn’t exactly my best work, and arguably made little to no sense, but in my defence, I wrote most of it at a point in my life when I was drunk a lot and watching my entire world fall apart, so, you know.
On the bright side, during this time, I got to feel the lovely arms of my muffin, William Regal, around me, and I wrote “Glasgow Caledonian” from “Last Of The Greenwich Glamour Girls”, during a very quick but eventful trip to Glasgow, so it wasn’t ALL bad.
I felt like nothing was going right for me, but I still tried to keep it upbeat, insisting that this was just the really shit part at the beginning of my story before I went on to bigger and better things (it turns out that I was right, but this isn’t the point…).
I later found a job, and things in my life did start to improve, but I still felt just as low, if not worse than before, and it wouldn’t go away. I would have long periods of time when I wouldn’t want to eat, or get out of bed. I would have moments where I genuinely thought I’d be better off dead. I’d have days where I would replay my life over and over, crying and wishing things could be different, staring at my reflection for hours on end, hating what I saw, and thinking everyone else hated me too.
I stayed in denial for quite some time, as if it was some kind of comfy blanket, because even though deep down, I knew I needed help, admitting that felt like I was just finding another thing that was wrong with me.
After many arguments, conflicts and so on with my family, they basically staged an intervention of sorts and insisted that I had to get help. I was mad as hell at the time, but it was the right thing to do.
I made an appointment with the doctor, and it was an awkward affair. I didn’t know what I was supposed to say, and I felt like I was coming across as one of those “whiney snowflake millennials” you read about in angry right wing newspapers, even though I’d always thought those articles were stupid. It’s funny, because I’m no stranger to mental health. Many people in my life have struggled with it, and I had no problem helping and supporting them, but the idea of it being something I now needed help with was very difficult to comprehend. I have always been someone who likes to do things themselves, and am quite independent and private, so suddenly having to let other people in and let them help me freaked me the fuck out.
I started a course of anti depressants, which didn’t do much for me, but I also started a CBT course that was very helpful (once I got past my hang ups about talking to strangers), and I was able to rationalise a lot of my fears, anxieties, and a lot of the things I’d been unable to process before, while also finding new ways to deal with my thoughts and feelings.
This was all, of course, quite a while ago, and while I do have moments of struggle every now and again, I am doing a lot better. I was inspired to write “Depression Is Not Real?”, not just by my own experiences, but by the constant shouting of “Depression isn’t real!” by people who tend to have very little experience of it. I know it’s a cliche, but to be honest, if you haven’t experienced it, it is hard to understand. Even I, as someone who had been around people who had dealt with depression for almost my whole life, found it very hard to truly understand it until I was in the situation, and even during that, I was confused as hell. I wanted to try and create something that explained my personal journey with depression, and how it felt for me, to try and explain the harsh realities of it, for those who simply refuse to believe it’s a real thing.
I began, as I often do, with a stream of consciousness. This is one of my favourite things to do when writing, as it allows me to draw out all the things I associate with a subject, and gives me a great starting point. It was quite a personal thing, so it was difficult to get everything together, but quite cathartic as well. I decided to personify depression, as personification is one of my favourite literary devices, but it also helped demonstrate how I felt. Sometimes, when I looked at myself, I saw another person, it was kind of like me, but like, a mirror universe version. Sometimes, the entire thing felt like self sabotage. My mind wanted me to be fulfilled, and happy, but it prevented that. That may not be the facts, I’m not a scientist, but that’s how it felt at the time.
Once I had a basic outline of the kind of themes and language I was looking to use, I started trying to edit down what I had, so that it was vaguely usable, and several edits later, I had the final product.
Me as a final product? I’m doing okay. I have good days, I have bad days. I’m more open about my feelings, and it helps me to handle them better. When I say that I’m grateful for the support of my followers on social media, here on my blog, or anywhere else y’all like to hang out, I really mean it. Not just because your support enables me to do what I love, but also because when I was sitting in my room, staring at the walls and wishing I was dead, I never imagined that one day, I would have a community of friends to share my life with. Thank you, and please, today, and every day, look after yourself.