Ten Years’ War

I don’t remember the exact date, but I know that it was sometime between Valentine’s Day and February 28th, so today’s as good a day as any to use.

Today, then, is the tenth anniversary of my nervous breakdown, and the onset of my first real bout of depression.

I realised later that it had been coming slowly, that for a few months I’d been really down and had a constant feeling of dread, though I’d no idea what of. This was there even during the good times, and since the Tinkids were 9, 6 and 4 at the time, there were many, many good times as they played and learned and grew.

Then, on some date that we are calling today, I did a job for a client (I was self-employed back then). She had a look at it, said it looked grand (and I’m sure it was, I was really good at what I used to do, which makes what followed all the odder) and I got up to go. Then, as I was leaving she said “well, sure I can ring you if I’ve any problems,” and all the way home I kept thinking “she’ll look at it properly now, she’ll think what is this crap, no-one’s done stuff this way for twenty years, she’ll sue me, I’ll end up in jail”.

And that was it. It sprung a small leak in the dam which was protecting my mind from waves of stress, self doubt and coal-black sadness. The dam burst, the waves swept in and my mind was submerged.

My mobile rang on the way home. It wasn’t the client, but at that stage it didn’t matter. I stopped at the beach near home and hurled the mobile out into the sea.

The next morning I didn’t get up. Nor on most days for a while after that. Mrs Tin just told the kids I was sick and they accepted that, which was great because I couldn’t have faced them knowing what was really wrong. Tingirl wasn’t yet old enough for school and I would pull the duvet tighter and tighter around my head as she’d play “Wade in the Water” by Eva Cassidy all day long on the sitting-room CD player because she loved it, and eventually I start to shudder whenever I heard it begin.

I did go to my doctor (even I’m not that stupid), he gave me medication and lots of calming advice, and in time things got better. I’ve had two bad bouts since, in 2003 and about 3 years ago, but I’m fighting it pretty hard. Mostly I fight it by laughing at it, for example by referring to 2001 as “the year I went mad”, and to the fact that I have a psychiatrist as “now that I’m a mental patient”. Blogging helps too, every now and then I feel down and vent about it and you are all tremendously supportive.

This post must seem a bit startling, coming out of the blue after reams of relentlessly cheerful stuff, but as I say it is ten years ago, and I hope that marking that milestone will put one more brick in the dam that I’ve been carefully re-building.

I will end with the story of another brick that I put in. Four years ago I bought myself the Eva Cassidy CD that has “Wade in the Water” on it, and forced myself to listen to it. I have it on my iPod now. I don’t like the song much, but that’s because I don’t think it’s a particularly good song.

The point is it doesn’t remind me of anything.


8 thoughts on “Ten Years’ War

  1. Patti

    Thanks for that. Milestones are important to mark, to show where we’ve been and what direction we’re going. The heavy things add weight and depth to the funny, and putting it out there may well reassure someone who is afraid that nothing will ever be funny again.

  2. Tilly Bud

    I don’t have personal experience of this but I have friends who suffer depression and I know how dreadful and debilitating it can be. To say ‘well done’ would be patronising, so I will just say I admire your courage and your honesty.

    It can be healthy to mark difficult anniversaries, and I think you have done it well.

    Thinking of you.

  3. Jo

    I’m happy too, and so glad you can listen to the song. I know that feeling. The waves of the song that pull you under. I’m glad you posted it.

  4. Tinman Post author

    See? This is what I mean by my blogging friends. Whenever I feel the need to write stuff like this I get nothing but support from all of you, and you have no idea how much it means.

    There are still only about five people in the “real” world to whom I’ve opened up as much as to you lot.

  5. Grannymar

    I thought I had already commented here. Sometimes it is easier to open up to someone a few steps removed from an actual situation. Writing about this part of your life may help you, but it may also be the light at the end of a tunnel for others who are still surrounded by the suffocating darkness.

  6. Pingback: Guardian Angel « Worth Doing Badly

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