You know what I hate? I hate it when people ask if all comedians have depression? My response is always "Read my lips - it's one in four. There aren't that many people who are funny." It's like asking if all weather girls have shingles? My insides aren't aware what my outside does for a living. It's such a reminder of how stuck in the primordial swamps we are when it comes to knowledge of mental illness. No one knows how you actually get depression; it's a crapshoot between nature and nurture. However you get it it's a disease like other diseases, not something you can catch like a cold.
I used to make things worse for myself when I felt I was about to be hit by the black dogs of mental illness. Just before it hit me I would go into overdrive to convince myself and the world that I'm completely normal busy doing things - people to go to places to meet. Any other illness you have, like a flu, they tell you tell you to stay in bed. If you have a mental problem god forbid we lie down when we find ourselves burning out.
So, in fear of being busted I'd show up at everything I was invited to. I was fine...
I remember once, years ago, I showed up at charity event that was there to 'Save The Puffin'. Imagine my horror. A large, moustachioed woman who happens to be the spokesperson for the charity gives us a moving speech, in that 'wee' Scottish brogue, about how difficult it is for puffins to land on the rocks in the Orkneys because of the strong winds, and that once they have managed to land and lay their (one) egg, they have big problems stopping it blowing away. No mention of global warming, just that the birds can't land there any more.
The world is melting and I'm listening to someone talking about how hard puffins have it. I have to restrain myself from shouting, "Why don't you just shoot the fuckers. End of problem."
Another time, shortly after the puffin event that November, I found myself about to do a scuba dive under Brighton Pier as part of my diver's licence. I had to do it right then in December for some reason I do not know. I was clutching onto a pier, frozen blue, my teeth were clanging. The instructor said this was one of the most beautiful dives in Europe. She had had the bends, not once, but twice (it's where you dive so deep your a bubble explodes in your brain so she wasn't all there). She added some weights to my belt to ensure I'd sink and then I dropped in a straight line to thirty feet below and found myself looking at a shopping trolley and a flip-flop. Where were the reefs? The parrotfish? All I got was a trolley and a flip-flop. In retrospect, this was not a valuable use of my time.
No matter how busy you make yourself, if you're heading toward burn out or depression it will get you. Even if you ignore it will still be there and it will detonate at some point. It's like you're carrying a live grenade. I grabbed onto mindfulness so I'd never ever have to find myself at an event about puffins.
Ruby will be travelling across the UK with her new Frazzled tour April - June 2016. Tickets are still available for most venues.
Ruby's latest best-selling book - A Mindfulness Guide For The Frazzled - is out now and available in all good bookshops, as well as online.
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