I staunchly believe that depression is an illness. It is in no way a choice. It can in no way be cured by “pulling yourself together”. It is not borne of a negative nature, a tendency to dwell on things, a weakness or a need for attention. I will fight this cause with anyone who states the opposite. I will nod vigorously in agreement and share cartoons on Facebook showing the ridiculousness of telling someone with cancer to “have a nice long bath, you’ll feel better” or saying “have you tried not having tuberculosis?” to someone coughing up blood, comparing this to suggestions that we have all heard by often well-meaning people trying to help and failing to understand us miserable ones. And yet when it comes to my own depression, I have adopted a similar approach to myself. Instead of taking myself off to the doctor and placing my symptoms in their care, I have essentially spent most of the last 8 years telling myself to get over it. So here is the start of a mini-series of daft decisions I’ve made (in less self-critical moments, I like to tell myself the depression made them) entitled:
Ridiculous things I’ve done to try not to be depressed
- Run away, run away!
Oh, so many times I’ve ran away. And so many times it didn’t work. And yet still the instinct is so strong and still the urge is so powerful that even though I know it doesn’t work, I know I will do it again. Twice, I ran away to Spain. Once I lasted three months and came back a wreck; the second time I lasted two years and was a wreck the whole time I was there and when I came back. I’m considering it again in September (see? hopeless…).
Whilst in Spain the last time, I spent weekends, long weekends and holidays running away. Last year, I visited 11 countries. I don’t think I enjoyed any of them but the urge to run was all-encompassing.
Last September I ran away to Ecuador. I decided that I should stop “feeling sorry for myself” and should help others so I signed up for volunteer work and off I went. Three booked and paid-for weeks of volunteering turned into one and I fled again. Five weeks of work exchanges were cancelled and I spent 8 weeks aimlessly travelling, trying to escape from the one thing that always followed me: me.
So far this year I’ve ran away a couple of times and come back an exhausted wreck. Now I’ve been offered a 6 month contract so will be in one place (although no doubt weekends will be spent running). I was offered a longer contract but that was too scary. The chains too heavy and too strong to discard and escape.
And so ahead of me are six scary months of weekend escapes and then I can go again if I choose. And here’s the thing. I know it’s stupid. I know it doesn’t work. And I know I will do it again.