The state of my head…
During the first public performance of 40% Happy last Thursday, I mentioned to the audience that the show was gonna be a bit ropey. They understood, some even told me after the show that they found it interesting, watching someone working through material and ideas while keeping an emotional breakdown firmly at arms length. I joked that after six years of ‘officially’ battling depression and of riding the SSRI Rollercoaster, it’s no wonder the show is ropey – the state on the show reflected the state of my head.
They laughed, thank fuck.
It was true, though: the show has been difficult to write because it has honestly been very difficult to try to make sense of and to come to terms with my life since 2005, especially for the last two years. This is why I’m starting so early on an Edinburgh 2019 show: a coherent hour of stand-up comedy that deals with what I want to deal with and that I can be proud of seems a distant goal right now, it may be a step too far.
I’ve been on the increased dose (30mg) of Mirtazipine since the middle of last week and today is the first day when I didn’t feel like I’m made of marble when I woke up. It still wasn’t easy to get out of bed this morning – bed is bed, after all – but I felt positive that I would manage it soon enough. I didn’t want to quit, and I didn’t want to die.
In the past, the boys in the band and I have been convinced that I’m bi-polar because of my swings between periods of depression and of manic activity. I make loads of plans, register URLs, create Facebook groups and add the usual suspects and then I sink to a place where I can’t wash never mind work and I stay there for as long as I stay there.
I don’t think I’m bi-polar.
I’ve done some reading, I’ve spoken to some experts, and I don’t think that my swings are extreme enough to put me into the bi-polar category.
Then again, do you know a stand-up comedian without an inflated sense of self-importance? Most of ’em are fucking awful people.
I’ve noticed a difference this time, though. You probably have, too. I’m working at a pace that I haven’t come close to in about five years. I think the blog is starting to reflect that and hopefully the show, and my other new material and other projects, will follow suit. I’ve noticed that:
- I have a show, for the first time, that I’m working hard on.
- I’ve already performed that show once.
- I’ll be performing it again in Cardiff in August so check back soon.
- There are blog posts on the website, which has actually been worked on recently.
- I’m working on some YouTube clips – which is why I’ve pulled the video down for now.
- I’m working on a couple of exciting projects that I’ll happily tell you more about soon.
- I’ve organised my admin and writing tools.
The difference this time is that I’m not shaking, sweating, or panicking. When I relapsed while working as a marketing wonk for a local charity – mostly, but not completely because I thought Mindfulness was a suitable substitute for medication for my situation – what scared me the most was that I completely lost the ability to concentrate. I’ve worked while staring at a screen for most of my life but I’d find myself feeling dizzy, staring at my file manager, wondering what all these files and folders where for and why they kept re-organising themselves (HINT: They weren’t. It was me, not a bug.) I got my eyes checked (I’m long-sighted so I wear glasses for screen work anyway) and all is well.
As a child, I would lie on my bed in ecstasy for hours as mam read to me story after story, book after book, and we’d roll around laughing at any little thing – like when she called the fairy in The Magic Faraway Tree ‘sickly’ instead of ‘Silky’ and we almost died laughing – Nan was a librarian and between the two of them they instilled a love of books, libraries, reading and learning that has never left me. My teachers did their best to humiliate that out of me but mam is stronger than all of them put together. I love them both dearly for that, among countless other things. Although my love of reading has remained with me through every second of my adult life, the ability to do so was the cruellest loss when the relationship turned sour and the job went South and that fucking black dog came slinking ’round again…
Say it quietly, I think the Mirtazipine might be working.
I’ve lots to do, yes, but I’ve rationalised my tools, simplified my workflow and I am now, like the old man taught me, doing my best and trying to take some measure of pride in my work. I think that the Mirtazipine may have given me back the ability to concentrate, to read and to work, and to actually desire growth and achievement for the first time in a long time. If that’s the case, it will be worth it and I’ll happily take them for the rest of my life.
And if that really IS the case then they can fucking look out…