While discussing the events of earlier in the week (which is not last week, despite it feeling very much like it must have been last week because it seems like at least a week’s worth of things have happened since) with my manager at work, it was highlighted that some of my work colleagues had already flagged the Instagram post to my manager. Apparently, I am a ‘very easy man to find on the internet’. Well, yes. I’ve worked quite hard at that. I think everyone still has the closet assumption that anyone who works in IT is a cave-dwelling antisocial shut in. Which, y’know, is only half true.
I’ve dipped my feet in the murky waters of revealing my not-very-private life at work before and it seemed, at the time, like it went okay. That was from a position of power though: it felt like my choice to make. Not to say that people being aware of what I post on social media isn’t, I guess: I decide what to post, and I could be more selective about who gets to see what if I wanted.
But things change when you’re vulnerable. Not that I have any confidence at the moment, but if I did, it’d be shaken.
So what should I still be sharing? Given the tone of some recent events, there’s probably a strong argument that I should be dialling it back a bit. To whom should I be sharing it? I think my manager was a bit confused that I’m quite so blunt about things on the internet when I struggle to make eye contact when talking about depression in real life.
I maintain that the same reasons I get scared, sometimes, of the possible consequences of what I write constitute the exact same reasons why I should write them. I have plenty of things to be ashamed of, but the persistent thoughts to take a long run off a short pier (not in the Sunday long training run sense) or go play in traffic (not in the TTing down the A24 sense) should not be those things. When I’ve been unduly scared of sharing things in life, but been forced to do so, most of the time – or at least recently – it hasn’t gone as bad as I’ve thought.
Somewhere that conversation still needs to be started, because while people are empathic, they’re not, by and large, telepathic. If I am normalising this weird freaky shit to any degree so that someone feels slightly more able to talk about it, cool. I’m confident enough that this has happened enough times over the course of what’s nearly 4 years of writing to be comfortable with that.
If I’m confident that’s been achieved though, why am I persisting? Wouldn’t now be a good time to wind it back in? After all, these ramblings have a shelf life. I’ve got no intentions of continuing them post-Swedeman wrap-up. Maybe for a short while again, but I feel more and more like I’ll just be done this time. Conceivably, that’s just a reflection of my current view on life/the universe/everything, but the point stands.
Thing is, even if this old nag has run her last race; even if these ever-wayward posts aren’t accomplishing anything for anyone else anymore, and the social media is causing more concern than it’s presenting a saccharine world of skin-tight lycra superhero outfits and pictures of me running – which will invariably feature a face so contorted you’d think I’d just swallowed an angry hornet. Even if this serves completely no purpose to anyone else, fuck it. It still holds a purpose to me, in a very selfish sense.
When I started writing about depression, I think I could have counted on all the fingers of a closed fist the number of people that I was entirely comfortable having a discussion, like a real, hornet-face-to-normal-slightly-weirded-out-by-your-pained-expression-face talking discussion. If I’d normalised this to no-one else in 4 years, then I’ve at least normalised it to myself. I can turn up to meet therapists and GPs, and I can talk openly to them. Sure as hell I’m eyefucking something in the middle distance and not actually looking at them, but I am talking to them. 4 years. 4 years and I can say I’ve managed that.
That, itself, is enough for a great big MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner. I have a lot more support around me these days – frankly, it seems overwhelming, apologies if I have not replied to your message – but a lot of what is going to happen, in terms of professional support from complete strangers, is still being formulated and put into place. As long as I can keep driving myself to say something, anything, until that puzzle falls into place… that’ll do.
Listening: Michael McCann – Home (Deus Ex: Human Revolution OST); I, too, never asked for this
Reading: Philip Pullman – Northern Lights; decided to read an actual book again, so going back through my favourite trilogy ever to rustle up the courage it’ll take to tackle The Book of Dust
At risk of sounding cliche again, I have found your writing useful. I used to write a lot in a personal journal until recently. It was the only way to sort my thoughts — a way to affirm that what I was thinking and feeling still had some basis in reality.
Anyways, whether or not individuals from your professional life find your posts alarming is not my place, but your sharing of reflections and feelings on this platform is, for me, a bit of fresh air. In an age where everyone shows the best of themselves, I find myself struggling to see my own positive steps. I don’t feel schadenfreude while reading your challenges, I feel instead relief that someone else is functionally trying to compaginate professional life, hobbies and the ups and downs of depression.
I know you are not a philanthropy, but I appreciate the work you are doing here.
Cheers for the kind words, I’m glad you can find some kind of sense in them. And also cheers for making me look up what compaginate means.