Yesterday, on reading 40 year old TV presenter Caroline Flack had taken her own life I felt moved to broach the subject of depression in essay. My words not laid down in pontification, or indeed from a misguided position of self-righteousness which’d be rank hypocrisy on my part. Moreover, observations taken from my own experiences fighting affliction by recurring depressive disorder.
Deeming it as airing my dirty washing in public, when first embarking on this literary journey I was significantly more guarded while penning about the topic of depression. For instance, always referring to the sufferer as ‘a friend’ rather than revelation the text in front of my readers was actually my own experiences.
If truth be told, it was pretty obvious the sufferer was me. However, at that time a lack of naming myself was enough, I thought anyway, to maintain an element of identity doubt. Allowing me to refute accusations, if they materialised, of publicly airing my dirty washing.
Over the past year or two, though, I’ve become far more candid in my prose. A consequence of realising there’s no point in only telling half a story.
Why should I be ashamed to admit my mental health nemesis? I didn’t seek this fight where each side has battle victories, and know it’s a war I’ll never fully win, but regardless of this I can’t fold. Instead adhering to a strategy of adopting mental health battle plans aimed at keeping collateral damage sustained to a minimum.
In candour, I’ve been in the state of mind Ms Flack was clearly afflicted with prior to undertaking such a tragic act. Sadly, though, she carried through with her dark notion, not as I’d done at my lowest point, concluding the act’d be a step too far. Thoughts of not wanting to put my family and friends through the ordeal of the aftermath ultimately my saviour.
When I was at that juncture of depression, though, I just wanted to escape from the pain which was so sharp if it’d been physical discomfort, instead of mentally induced, yours truly would’ve sought morphine intervention.
Unlike many, though, I was luckily eventually dragged out of that level of mental torture by, for the first time in decades, loving myself and appreciating I’d many, many qualities to offer. These skills foolishly buried away when this unwanted nemesis took hold of me, dragging me to the same dreadful precipice Caroline Flack found herself and sadly leapt.
My affliction exacerbated by existing for decades in a loveless, affectionless marriage which I stayed in for my kids sake. In addition to working jobs where I wasn’t playing to my strengths, along with enduring twenty years of rotating shift patterns where I existed on three hours sleep a day when on nightshift.
Whenever I read of suicide incidents I think back to those dark times. I look at my bookcase proudly scanning the 38 books of blogs I’ve written in the five years since my lowest ebb.
Tomes containing over a million words I’ve penned, along with mulling over the countless great experiences I’ve had the opportunity to undertake since leaving that dreadful place. None of which would’ve seen the light of day if I’d have taken that tragic final step sadly embraced by Ms Flack.
This morning, I read a particularly erudite social media piece asking why individuals can’t be as kind to/about people when they’re alive as they are when producing gushing tributes and reflections after their passing. An essay imparting sentiments I wholeheartedly subscribed to.
Sadly, large swathes of individuals thrive on the negatives in others lives, pruriently picking through the flesh and bones of gossip, like vultures. All the while ignoring any positive behavioural traits displayed by the target of their bile. The latter seemingly always conspicuous by their absence during ‘over the garden fence’ chatter.
This aforementioned negative habit sadly significantly worsening in these social media times where, in addition to old school channels of gossiping, people are vitriolically judged by keyboard warriors hurling (oft uninformed) opinions and observations from the relative safety of their home.
Within the last two weeks, or so, when out and about I’ve been blanked by a couple of my estranged wife’s friends. Their reticence to speak not overly bothering me, I’m sure their disappearance from my life won’t leave too big a void.
What did trouble me, though, was despite me still paying every bill in the marital home, along with just paying £100 to have a toilet fixed, this woman whose habitual unreasonable behaviour contributed significantly to my heart attack still feels intent on villainising me.
One thing is for sure, she won’t be mentioning anything positive I’ve undertaken, such as my 50+ instances of voluntary work and £1000’s Ive raised for cancer charities; or indeed my employing of self-counselling strategies of writing and joining a choir…… Never mind, eh!
I’m desperately unhappy I’d to leave the marital home I’d loved and lived in for twenty three years. Additionally, with my estranged wife suffering from cancer it didn’t sit easy with me from a morality perspective. However, her antagonisation became so untenable I was in genuine fear the strain was going to result in another heart attack; consequently, a very difficult, and at one point unthinkable, decision was undertaken.
Depression still hangs over me like Damocles sword. I still have dreadfully dark days, however at least one of the catalysts to these episodes is no longer the feeling of sheer and utter worthlessness.
If I’m honest, due to an utter indifference to the reality TV genre in which she predominantly worked, I’ve never seen any broadcast starring Caroline Flack. Regardless, having an understanding of the mental torment the London-born presenter must’ve suffered, I find the episode so desperately sad.
In recent years, with my faith severely tested following a decade of melancholic existential familial episodes, with tongue in cheek I’ve advocated religion could be replaced simply by putting a big sign outside churches advising parishioners “Be Nice To Each Other“…… Actually, what I really said (more for comedic affect) was the message should read “Don’t Be A T**t!”
Regardless if I’m right or wrong about religion, whether it be fiction or not, I do subscribe to a section of ‘John 8’ in the King James Bible. A passage in which Jesus told a group of men intent on stoning a woman to death for adultery “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
An adage that many of us, myself included, would benefit from adhering to before eliciting vitriolic judgements. A courtesy which had it been afforded to Ms Flack may’ve resulted in this terribly sad incident not taking place.
Tragically, though, unlike me, she’ll never get to write her metaphorical million words, along with sampling the many other joyful experiences that’d have laid ahead of her.
RIP Caroline Flack