The Big One…The Black Dog
This is the post I’ve been putting off writing for six years. I’ve been writing it since Monday. I’ve written and re-written it so many times that my trash now has more drafts of this post than emails offering me Viagra. It won’t be what I want it to be but it’s almost the end of another Mental Health Awareness Week and my career is on its arse. If I don’t do this now, I never will.
I started back in 2005 at Poncho Comedy Club in Cardiff. In 2008 I walked off stage in Coventry and had a breakdown (me, not the car) on the M5. That was a fucking long drive home. I quit comedy and struggled on for a while in software development until, after a disastrous spell working for a large web agency, in 2012 I was diagnosed with Depression and Anxiety. Neither I nor those close to me were surprised – this shit goes way back – but it did allow me to finally get onto the Recovery Rollercoaster. I wasn’t expecting things to get more difficult…
I did the SSRI Dance for a while, got to know Nausea and Anxiety intimately, came off one type of SSRI cold turkey and almost completely lost my shit (do NOT do that). I lived on Lambert & Butler and Lucozade for quite a while.
Since my diagnosis, I’ve burnt through three councellors, two agents, a personal trainer (who’s patience, like his strength, is Herculean), fuck knows how many GPs, a marriage, a home, and several jobs. My CV looks like the CV of a man who has depression. I’ve come clean to employers and been sacked because of it and I’ve kept it hidden and been sacked because of it. I’ve let down good friends, over and over again, and I’ve promised work to people that was never delivered and for which I’m currently running around apologising. I’ve cancelled thousands and thousands of pounds worth of comedy work, been sanctioned by the DWP and fallen out with more friends than I care to remember. I’ve had the Manics’ A Design for Life on constant repeat in my brain for about two months. I don’t even like that fucking song!
I’ve quit comedy and started from scratch three times and after trying to do this shit for twelve years I still haven’t done an Edinburgh run. It’s been a hell of a ride but I’m still here.
I am still here.
I’m neither the first nor the only person to fight this fight, many people have it far worse than I, and I am still genuinely baffled as to why anyone would care what I think about anything but, apparently, some of you do.
So I’m a ‘blogger’ now, too. I always wanted to be a writer but, as there’s no real market for Welsh Stephen King wannabes, I haven’t had anything to write about – or so I thought. Turns out, there’s a bunch of jumble in this cracked nut of mine that I could do with taking to the charity shop and some stuff that I can put online.
Before I go, I must say this: I’m not about to jump off anything high, don’t panic. I am safe and I am loved. I have friends and family who give a fuck and I have a Pick ‘n’ Mix of meds that are currently holding an illegal rave inside my skull.
I’m doing this now because I’ve hit bottom and am on my way back up. I have a lot of explaining to do to a lot of people, and who knows? I’m hopeful that this will help someone, somehow, someday. It may even help me. I’m no expert but mental health services in this country are fucking abysmal. We’re all working too hard, for too long, and the world is becoming so polarised, so angry, and so cruel that we must stick together – we must. I’ve lost too many heroes, friends, even family members to suicide. I’ve had enough.
More to follow…