I have depression. Its something I live with or rather its something that lives with me. Every now and again it wakes up, stretches and announces its presence. Its something I’ve had for so long that I can recognise when its about to wake up and stretch. Usually I can put it back to sleep again. But, sometimes, I can’t put it back to sleep. And then I feel like I describe in the poem below. And that’s when me and my depression fight. So far, I’ve won all the bouts. But there have been some split decisions. I’ve self-harmed. I’ve tried to take my own life, twice. But I’m still here, fighting.
Depression is an illness. Its a serious illness. Depression should be taken seriously, deadly seriously. Depression isn’t something that you can snap out of. Depression can’t be cured with a joke. Or a pint. Or by cheering up.
When I’m depressed I can’t talk about it.
When I’m not depressed I don’t want to talk about it.
That’s the invidious nature of depression.
I need to talk about it but I can’t.
I should talk about it but I won’t.
Its a solitary disease. It removes you from your family. It removes you from your friends. Its a disease that eats you from the inside. But its not a disease that shows up on any scan. Its a disease that destroys you from the inside. Yet, it leaves you outwardly intact. Its a disease. A silent killer. It kills with silence.
I have depression. But now I’m talking. I’m talking because of Robert Enke. A young, talented professional goalkeeper. A goalkeeper at one of the top clubs in Europe. One of the top clubs in Europe that didn’t want him. Enke was a solitary man. In a solitary position. And he was ill. Robert Enke took his own life two years ago.
I have depression. But now I’m talking. I’m talking because of Kate Fitzgerald. A young, talented businesswoman. A successful businesswoman. A young successful businesswoman who reinvigorated the Irish branch of Democrats Abroad. A young successful businesswomen who wrote incisively about depression and the stress of being a young successful businesswoman. Kate Fitzgerald took her own life in August this year.
I have depression. But now I’m talking. I’m talking because of Gary Speed. A young, talented football manager. A young talented man, negotiating his first steps in the minefield that is football management. A young talented man who appeared on television on Saturday. Who appeared happy. Gary Speed took his own life on Sunday.
Three lives. Three tragedies; for themselves, for their families, for their friends.
I have depression. But now I’m talking. I’m talking about Stan Collymore. A young man with a talent for talking. A young ex-footballer with a talent for writing. In the early hours of Saturday morning Stan Collymore wrote, coherently and bravely, about his depression. Stan Collymore is alive.
I have depression. But now I’m talking. These four people have encouraged me to talk. It is a coincidence that three of the four people are footballers. I could be talking about musicians, comedians, artists. It doesn’t really matter who I am talking about. It matters that I am talking.
I have depression. But it doesn’t have me.
If you have depression or if you know someone with depression, please talk. There is help out there, please access it – Aware, The Samaritans. Ask for help.
If you know someone with depression support them, be patient, get them help.
Fade to Black
I curl up,
arms around knees
and I wait.
The darkness spins me
like a top and
I revolve around my own axis.
A gyroscope with my eyes shut.
The faster I turn the less pain I feel.
Closed in tight.
Nothing can scar me.
As I twist I don’t feel the claws,
they make no mark.
The black shadow has no
substance and can’t touch me.
In my cocoon
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