I've decided, in the deluded spirit of making resolutions in the new year, to try and change an aspect of my lifestyle; I'm going to dip my toe in the water of an attempt to be kind to myself. My problem is I can't tell when I'm being nice to myself and when am I just being a lazy pig, so I never stop with the self-flagellation to keep going. If I thought about what's the greatest thing I could do for myself, I'd tell you it was 'to never have to get out of bed'. I'm my happiest when I have a virus and have an excuse to lie there without the nagging mother in my brain screaming, "Get your ass up and out".
I know I sound nihilistic but I do try to make peace with my pessimism. Even in childhood, my thoughts were never cuddly and warm. They were mostly unforgiving and I know no one is as cruel to me as me. I've always lobbed grenades at myself. If I try and stop, the thoughts get more persistent. The only thing I have to ease the situation is that I practice mindfulness and have done for many years. Every morning I sit in one place and it's agony because my mind is screaming for me to get up, do something...
I've been in the fog for about a week. In a way it feels like I've been reunited with an evil, lost relative. Someone from my past I can vaguely recognize - and then it comes to me, oh yes, it's depression. I remember now... This time it's different than any of my past episodes, At this point when I had depression in the past I'd be panicking that my old self is gone - my old personality gone and this new deader one to replace it. But even in this chaos I sort of know this is temporary, I just happen to have this disease and this loss of identity is part of it; my mind is just out of the office for a minute.
It's hard for me to write this and come up with words and sentences because it feels like no one is at the wheel of the ship - so who's writing this? I'm pushing myself to keep going so I can remember what it looks like when it's written down and for everyone else who suffers with this to say this is not your imagination, you are not being self indulgent (I'm fighting my mind on that one). It's exactly what it says on the bottle, it's poison, terrifying and a complete mummification in nothingness.
I started my journey to publicise the book in New York. Everyone tells me they love New York, to me it's a gang rape on the senses. I want to confess war crimes after being kept up all night listening to trash trucks clanging. I took the subway late one night after a show, waited two hours for the right train and witnessed bedlam; feral people were howling like wolves...
If after your efforts you happen to win a gold medal, trophy, bonus, hit a bulls-eye you'll get such a main line smack of dopamine you'll probably be addicted forever and spend your life hunting down the next hit at any cost. As humans we're natural born addicts when it comes to some of our neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, adrenaline, noradrenalin.
One of the first symptoms of depression is when you can't make any decisions. Choosing which direction to walk is overwhelming, looking at a menu is like going on Mastermind. Eventually your brain gives up, it has no more room, you've scored 'game over' hit your full capacity like an over stuffed hoover bag before it explodes.
We spend our lives hunting for something that has a very limited life span, sometimes lasting only seconds (see sex). Whatever that rush of fireworks in the blood is; winning the lottery, making a billion, getting on the volleyball team, there will be a fall. We've known this forever (see Greek tragedy) and yet we never learn.
It's the only illness where you get - absolutely free with the package - a real sense of shame. I've heard people say, "I know people with real diseases, show me lumps show me X-Rays", and of course you can't so you begin to feel bombarded with self-disgust thinking," I'm not being carpet-bombed, I'm not living in a Township, how dare I, who has everything, be depressed?"
Why is it such an 'out of the blue' experience for everyone that Robin Williams killed himself? Is it because we think if someone's funny they must spend their lives, head thrown back, wheezing away? I know very few comedians who in their real lives have their heads thrown back, it's not funny being funny; it's a killer.
I'm placed next to Brain Cox and something inside me wilts because I know I am sitting next to a superior being and he will soon find out I'm a two-celled worm... This is my trigger, if I'm near someone that smart, I tailspin into the interior pre-recorded CD made in childhood that goes something like this, "You're a total idiot and people will find out that you're an idiot."
I had a dinner party last week where I invited a few famous people I knew from when I did my interview shows. Many of them suffer from something I call 'movie star disease.' They live in their own time zone so when invited to dinner at seven they either come in at eleven with no apology or not at all.
In the beginning things were fine, we lived in tribes with family members. We all shared the same genes so we trusted and protected each other. The bad news about this is the bit about all being related which caused infinite mutations; some of our cousins had more fingers than needed, others had their feet growing backwards.
Most mornings I try to drag myself into a sitting position to practice mindfulness. I do this because if I delay and say to myself, "Later," I'll never do it. My body craves to stay prone, probably forever. But sitting up and following my breath, I can check my internal weather conditions and if I don't check in, they'll unconsciously influence everything I do in the day.