One consistent feature of my depression has been the urge to run away, to be free and to escape. I will not take permanent work contracts, I move house at least twice a year (since 2008, when my depression first introduced itself, I have moved at least 14 times, probably more – it’s hard to keep count!) and I have travelled a lot.
I have never fully enjoyed the travelling. It’s been good to get away and almost a compulsion to do so but once I get there, it often all falls apart and I go through the motions, spending a lot of time hiding in hostel and hotel rooms, watching Netflix. However, last week I went to Paris and I actually had a good time! It seems odd to say it. But how nice it will be to go into work on Monday and be able to honestly say that I had a good holiday (rather than pretending and making neutral statements like “it’s an interesting place”, “there’s lots to see”).
It’s tempting to see this as recovery. I am experienced now to know that a fall could come unexpectedly and at any time. So now it becomes a different battle – the battle to stay positive but, to borrow a phrase that I loathe and that has caused me to give up on more than one therapist, to be gentle to myself. The tightrope I have been balancing on for a while now has widened. Now it’s a plank. It’s studier and wider but it’s still suspended high above the ground. I walk steadier and with more comfort but I mustn’t become too complacent. A fall will still be dangerous. I am still vulnerable to gusts of wind and missed footing.
I once asked someone for advice on how to cope with depression. She told me to enjoy the good times. They will come, she said, but you never know how long they will last. They could last forever. They could last for months or years. It could be days or even hours. Sometimes minutes. You never know. But being too cautious means when they come, you are so frightened of losing them that you freeze. I have done it before. I have held my breathe when all is well, terrified to do anything that may risk that feeling of contentment. This time I am determined not to do that. I am determined not to worry about how long it will last but just enjoy it while I can.