Hi there! If you are like me, then you are one of the xxxx people in the UK who suffer from depression (that's not bad subbing, I'm just too lazy to look the figure up) and you have my sincerest condolences. Depression, after all, is rubbish, which is why it is called depression and not "Jolly Face Fever" or "Chronic chortles." But does it have to be totally terrible? Can depression actually be fun? Well, as you can guess from the contentious headline next to my byline photo, I say yes! Yes, it can!
1. Hilarious medication side-effects.
When you first go on anti-depressant medication, there are all manner of side-effects that you experience until your body gets used to them and they start to work. Some of these are annoying, like insomnia and loss of libido, but others are undeniably mirthful. When I started on Citalopram, for example, it turned my poo iridescent yellow for a fortnight. Ha ha! Glowing yellow poo indeed!
2. The lie-ins are amazing.
Everybody likes a lie-in in the morning, and when you are experiencing a depressive episode, these can last for several days. Admittedly, after a couple of days you start thinking that maybe you ought to do something constructive like shower or leave your home, but luckily the decision to not do that and continue having a lie-in has already been made on your behalf.
3. Depressives are cool.
There is a long, long line of artists, musicians, politicians and writers who suffered from depression, not to mention some of the funniest people who have ever cracked a joke. Names like Tony Hancock, Spike Milligan, Winston Churchill, Leonard Cohen, Woody Allen, William Blake and Charles Dickens are cited so frequently that they have become a cliche - well, now you can now add another name to that list of all-time great artists. Mine, specifically.
4. Depression is fashionable.
Yes, the good news is that if you are suffering from depression, you are terribly contemporary and of-the-moment (with special kudos to those of you who suffer specifically from post-traumatic stress disorder, which is, I am told, the most fashionable sub-condition of the condition right now). Congratulations! You're like the shredded denim hotpants with the pockets hanging down below the hems of modern ailment sufferers. Note to women who wear shredded denim hotpants with the pockets hanging down below the hems: thank you, please continue.
5. The social life is great.
Provided you can haul yourself up out of bed - and it should be noted as I type that I have failed to do this for 24 hours - then a whole world of socialising possibilities await you. Thanks to brilliant support charities like Depression Alliance, there are support groups to attend, book groups, rambling groups, full of people with whom you can discuss your medication or (and I find this one a more enticing option) go to the pub. I haven't pulled at a depression support group yet, but hey, one day (see #10)!
6. Sandwich excellence exaggeration.
What? What am I talking about? Well, one of the peculiar phenomena of bipolar depression is the manic phase, where everything is wild and exciting and giddy. During these odd upswings of mood and energy, something as mundane as a nice sandwich can suddenly take on the kind of magical properties that one might find in, for example, a talking unicorn turning up in your garden wearing two saddlebags full of gold. That's some mighty fine sandwich right there!
7. Heightened appreciation of Joy Division.
Joy Division are already one of the best bands who ever there was, but depression sufferers, I'd argue, really feel the benefits and fully appreciate their whole vibe. Just a tip, though: if you happen to have gone three days without sleep, and yet haven't left your bed in all that time, playing Eternal or New Dawn Fades might not be the best of ideas.
8. When someone asks you how you are doing, you generally have something quite interesting to tell them.
Generally, when you are normal and jolly and non-depressive, when someone asks how things are going, you have to say, "Oh,can't complain. Nothing to report, really" or something equally vague. But when you suffer from depression, you get to give spectacular action-packed summaries of your latest hell, along the lines of, "I'm okay now but last week I hit a four day bad patch that left me unable to sleep. As a result I started to panic and hyperventilate and ended up in A&E on a drip." Isn't that more interesting than, "Yeah, I'm getting by, mustn't grumble"? That scenario happened to me, actually - made for some great material down the pub!
9. The constant treats.
One of the thing that tends to be given to you in terms of advice when one is in therapy - I've had three spells after severe depressive episodes - is that one can always alleviate one's pain for a while by giving yourself a treat. This treat might take many forms - a pub lunch, a shopping trip, a day at the coast, a cinema visit, an hour with a high-class prostitute* - but the bestowing of treats on oneself is frequent and constant. On the one hand, this means that being depressed can be quite expensive, but on the other, it means you accumulate a lot of fun stuff. If you can find the energy to get out of bed.
* Just to clarify, that one was a joke. Besides...
10. Depression sufferers are almost always excellent in bed.
Well, I'm just saying. I don't know why, we just are. Maybe we treat every sexual experience as if it's our last, or maybe we just spend so much time in bed that we get good in it.
If you suffer from depression and would like advice or support, please contact Mind
If you need urgent help, please contact the Samaritans