It’s been a bit weird since I last blogged. I’ve felt myself slipping back down, mentally and physically. Insomnia has returned and 4.30am has become my usual waking time. I’m carrying ‘The Fear’ again, that knot in your stomach that everything’s about to collapse and go wrong. It quite easily could.
Since the last blog I’ve spent a bit of time on Facebook as someone started a group all about the school I used to attend (now sadly demolished) I’ve reconnected with names from the past that I’ve not heard from for 30yrs (I left in 1984) The group is full of stories from my time at school, things we got up to, the characters, the teachers and I’ve been swept along in a wave of fuzzy, warm nostalgia for a time when everything seemed ….easier, simpler. I enjoyed my school years, I really did. I was a different person back then, but the more I think about it, the seeds of my illness were being sown back then….
I’m from a family of four lads. My two older brothers and one younger. My Mum says I was a quiet kid, never far from her side, or content to play on my own making tracks out of wooden pegs for my Matchbox cars. Apparently there were no kids round my age to play with, my older brothers were close in age and knocked around together, my younger brother six years younger. Mam says I came out of my shell around 11yrs when I started ‘big school’. I made friends and was known by people and teachers because of my elder brothers. My older bro’s were cool, both mega sporty and at the heart of the school teams. I loved sport, especially the footy, but I was a skinny kid with dodgy eyesight. I made it as a sub for the school team on a few occasions, but not good enough for the main side. It’s a feeling I now know well, the feeling of ‘not being good enough’ and never quite ‘there’. I was good at other things though, I could talk the talk, was mad on my music and learning to play guitar. I put myself forward to act in school plays, as a class delegate and had formed my first band. My elder brothers had left school and I now had a bit of ‘cool’ about me. In 1982 I triumphed as the Lion in The Wizard of Oz luvvies!!
So what’s this to do with depression and anxiety in later life? I was a try all, I wanted to please everyone and be the centre of attention, a bit of a clown…an entertainer. It didn’t come naturally, so I had to work at it with the fear of failure very real even at the age of 14. Back then the anxiety manifested itself physically. I was as thin as a rake and suffered a nasty little rash on the back of my hand which back then was attributed to ‘nerves’. I ploughed on at school with the band, knocking around with the lads and then in the 4th year that thing called ‘first love’ reared its head. We were together nearly 2 yrs and she dumped me about a year after we left school. I know we’ve all been there, but I took it very hard. Tears, snot, sleepless nights, overthinking and ‘The Fear’ in my stomach. I’d failed, the failure that has constantly hung over me began back then.
Back to the present. I’ve started reading the autobiography of cricketer Marcus Trescothick. Marcus has suffered his own personal hell through anxiety and depression and cut short an England career. He states that the seeds of his illness manifested at 11yrs old when he was taken away on a cricket trip away from his home and family, Its what finished his career with England as the thought of touring abroad was too much for him. What I’m saying is, sometimes you have to look way back to see where it all started.
Like I said, it’s lovely to reconnect with old friends, but with me there’s a downside. A lot of these people have gone on to be very successful, millionaires, their own businesses. I’m not jealous, in fact I’m proud to be associated with a school that turned out some good, good folk. Thing is, I’m 45, suffer chronic anxiety and depression, on benefits and don’t have a bean to show as far as career and money goes….so in my (still 14yr old head) I failed with honours and the anxiety of just getting from week to week at the moment is quite frankly…a shitter.
I don’t want to end on a massive down so I want to say that I have loving, supportive people around me. I’m still close to my family and I’m sure these past few shit years will become a memory and it’ll get better. I still have one last gripe though. My schools motto was a load of bollocks….‘Good Enough Isn’t Good Enough’!! The worst motto a future depressive could ever get stuck in his head!!!