Every Picture Tells A Story…..

from Wikipedia:

A hobby is a regular activity that is done for enjoyment, typically during one’s leisure time. Hobbies can include collecting themed items and objects, engaging in creative and artistic pursuits, playing sports, or pursuing other amusements. A list of hobbies is lengthy and always changing as interests and fashions change.

I have a hobby. I have a few hobbies, but my main hobby is singing. As I’ve said before on this blog, music has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember.

Singing and making music makes me happy, it fills me with a joy that I find almost impossible to define, and singing for other people, and watching their reaction, to see the happiness and joy on their faces, make it all the more special.

On Saturday night, for two hours, I stood onstage, and I sang, I sang my heart out, and for two hours on Saturday night, I’m not going to lie, I felt happy, for the first time in a very long time, I felt a flash of the ‘old’ me, a brief beam of light in what has been of late a dark and terrifying period of anxiety, stress, depression and some very dark thoughts about not being here any more. I’m not daft, I know that the band I’m in is popular, and I know the power of social media, its immediacy, and it’s power to spread a word far and wide in the blink of an eye. I knew in advance, that there would be people in the audience taking photographs, and they did, and those photographs are freely available to see on social media.

I was going to write today about how much it meant to me to hear how much people enjoyed those two hours, how it allowed me to see a light in the darkness, and to thank everyone involved for being behind me, to support me through this journey, and to say a heartfelt thanks to my friends, for encouraging me, for making sure I’m ok, for texting or calling me every day to just see how I’m getting on.

This morning however, I have come crashing back down to earth with a very huge bump, and reality has hit home like a hammer to the face. on Facebook, a comment on one of the photographs from Saturday night, a comment made by someone who works at the same place that I work. the comment? just two words ‘Great Recovery ? ?’

So, on the basis of one photograph, someone (who I had no idea was a qualified doctor with a speciality in mental health, who knew?) has decided that I’m fine, that if I’m ‘well enough to be onstage, I’m well enough to be at work’ that this whole thing is a lie, and I’m just a lead swinging waste of space. My first reaction to that comment? yes, he’s right, how could I do a show when I’m off work with a mental health problem? I should be lying under the duvet all day every day, no stepping outside the door, no seeing friends, no communicating with anyone, I should be crying non stop from waking until going to sleep, because if I’m not doing that then there’s obviously nothing wrong, and I’m a bad person for letting my colleagues down and not being there, it would be better if I just resign, go away, end it all.

My second reaction to the comment, tears, anxiety, shaking, more tears, more thoughts of not being here, more questioning my decision to get up onstage and sing, questioning every decision I make, from getting out of bed or not, to what colour socks to wear.

I don’t know if his cynicism speaks for all my colleagues, but I suspect it may well do, which makes me sad, and a little disappointed, but I guess I can also understand their cynicism, they haven’t walked in my shoes, they don’t know what’s going on in my head, and unlike a broken leg, or cancer, depression doesn’t have any physical signs, and it’s easy to think, “pull yourself together, there’s nothing wrong, what have you got to be depressed about?”

what that photograph doesn’t show, is the five days that went before, the five das I spent agonising about getting on that stage, because a) I knew there may be a reaction like the one from my colleague, b) I didn’t know if I could face getting on stage at all, c) I don’t want to let anyone else down, I’ve let enough people down this year already, I don’t want to let down another lot of people.

That photograph doesn’t show me worrying about getting onstage, right up until five minutes before I did, it doesn’t show me standing outside shivering in the cold and doing something I haven’t done for seven years, smoking a cigarette, to try to calm myself down, it doesn’t show me sitting on my friend’s sofa in tears, telling her how worried I am about getting on stage, because of all the things I’ve just mentioned, and it doesn’t show me sitting on my bed on Saturday morning, shaking, crying, wanting desperately for the day not to have come, wanting to just stay in bed, wanting to take these thoughts away, wanting to switch off and not come back on again.

I shouldn’t have to justify doing something that makes me happy, something that may well contribute to my recovery, something that might get me back to a state of mind where I can go back to work, so I don’t spend every day feeling guilty for not being there, in spite of the fact that the thought of being there makes me feel so sick with worry that I can’t even drive past the place without getting anxious.

I stand here to be judged, I know that, and this morning, it seems, I have been judged, tried, and found worthless.

So to the person who made the comment, whose name I won’t mention because that’s not my style, I hope you read this blog post, and go back and read the rest, and before you leap to judgement, you ask a few questions, you can even ask me directly and I’ll talk you through it all. You have done me a favour in one sense, you’ve made me realise that far from being supported by work, I’m obviously being judged, and spoken about in my absence , unfavourably, and that my honesty and integrity are obviously under scrutiny. You’ve made me certain that far from being ready to return, I’m not sure I can return, or if I have the will to return, to a place where there may be little or no trust in me. Thank you for making me feel like this, thank you for taking away the little flash of happiness that I enjoyed for a couple of hours on Saturday night, and thank you for making my decisions a lot clearer.

13 Comments

  1. Is a sad truth that most people think depression is an image of someone with their head in their hands all the time (google images for lols). The worse thing in the world is to sit at home and have no fun which is why Saturdays gig was so essential for my own recovery too. I sang along and laughed all night but I am still not well enough to do my day job helping vulnerable people. I have been following this blog and was pleased to see you on stage and know it’s a world away from ‘real life’ and dealing with work. No need to justify your appearance on stage, celebrate as it as a step in the right direction. X

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  2. This year was the first time we missed your Christmas gig. (We had to go on hubbys nhs christmas do in dirty Leeds, I know how could we). We always love your shows and the Christmas one especially. I did wonder if it would go ahead as I can’t imagine doing what you do on a good day, but how your currently feeling would have stopped many other people. But you did it. You got up there and put yourself out there. And it brought you relief and joy for a couple of hours. And it brought many others a brilliant start to Christmas.
    Don’t let some silly comment stop your progress. You are doing fantastically well. People don’t think before they speak and to be fair I’m sure I’ve been guilty of these comments in the past. But by people talking about depression and sharing their experiences I’ve started to get a better of understanding and now see that doing those things that make you happy are what will make you start down the road to a happier life.
    Take today to recover and don’t let one silly comment ruin what I’m sure was ana amazing gig and still putting smiles on lots of people’s faces today and the coming few weeks. X

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  3. Thanks for this post Shaun it’s such a typical reaction from people who don’t suffer from depression when they see people signed off work out and about. It’s a huge part of recovery and every therapist I have ever seen has advised doing things you love and getting out and socialising as part of the recovery process.
    What does shock me is that a mental health professional would make a comment of this nature!
    It made me so happy to see that you’d managed to get up there and perform and I’m so sad I wasn’t able to get there to watch. Keep up the good work and remember for every person making comments like that there are many more like me who are right behind you cheering you on.

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      1. It was a short comment, how can you be sure it was ment in the way you have painted it. I personally think your blog was an outright attack towards a person, that may have not ment it in mallace. The end of your blog was very concerning you directly blame the person for everything that’s going wrong in your life. Maybe you need to rethink your words, think happy thoughts and you’ll get through it.

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      2. I don’t reject your right to comment, you’re entitled to have an opinion on what you have read. but as this is my personal blog, I reserve the right to reply, so please bear with me.
        firstly, if the comment was not meant with malice, why post it? it was in itself an attack, and coming as the first thing I saw yesterday morning, at a time which, when suffering from depression, is one of the most vulnerable times of the day, it had the effect of eliciting all the feelings which I described in my post, which like all the posts on this blog, is an honest account of my feelings, written in the first instance for myself, to help me get some perspective on what I am dealing with, so that I might be able to make sense of it, and change it. So, rather than an attack, my post is a defence against what came across as an attack on me. I don’t know if you know me, the person in question, or both, you seem very sure that the comment was not malicious, but what you suggest in that, is that the person who commented lacks the intellectual capacity to acknowledge the impact that the comment would have, that seems pretty harsh criticism.

        secondly, the end of the blog, I’m not blaming that person for everything that’s going wrong in my life, I know what’s to blame for that, it’s clinical depression and anxiety, and that person has nothing to do with that, it’s a chemical imbalance that hopefully with medication can be alleviated, it’s a lifelong condition that doesn’t go away, it can only ever be managed. What I do blame that person, or rather their insensitive comment for, is for the way it made me feel yesterday, and to bring us full circle, why post it in the first place? if not malice, then what? humour? because I don’t hear anyone laughing.

        Lastly, as I said at the beginning, this blog is written honestly and from the heart, I’m not going to apologise for my feelings, or for expressing them and if it was as simple as ‘thinking happy thoughts’ nobody would ever be in this state.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Shaun. I will start with ‘what a fucking Crock of shite. ‘ I too was very pleased to see you on Saturday night. Coming to your gigs is my therapy! I thought you were amazing. You were all fabulous as usual. Never seen the boys do a bad gig. 3 out of the four of us there on Saturday night have long term depression. My mate who’s been in bed with depression forced her self to come turned to me and said ‘ they are good for the soul! We both had v stressful jobs and with both bullied, harassed and made to feel worthless, incompetent and pathetic. They just didn’t get it. Don’t stop getting out. Don’t stop doing what you are good at. Don’t make any big decisions. Celebrate your achievements big and small. Without you to look forward to we would have a bleaker outlook.
    And try to remember that when depressed sometimes it feels likewe want it to all be over. We don’t want to die really but sometimes we think we do. This is faulty thinking and will pass x stick with it. The bastards can Fuck off x

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  5. 😞 Some people need to think before they comment on something which it seems they clearly do not understand. If it was as easy as pulling yourself together you would have done it before now. You should be so proud of yourself getting on that stage an doing something which you enjoy. From someone who has walked in your shoes an still does try and Stay strong you can get through this I no it doesn’t seem like it at the moment but you will start to have more good days than bad I promise. Big hugs 🤗 X

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  6. It would appear that you only post what suits your agenda, which leads me to believe that you have the problem not the person that you have directed you attack upon. Hope your cloud lifts soon.

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  7. I don’t personally know either of you, I have been to see your band though. Having read your reply Shaun I do honestly believe that the person who put up great recovery, meant it in a positive way. You seem he’ll bent on turning it into a negative thing, you emphasise at all times how you feel down. You point out that it was malice, that person or persons think your shirking from work. You seem to be very active tv, radio, papers, blog and singing, but condemn someone for two words that could have been meant in a nice way. You state you won’t name the person but then state his job role and title, I suggest you are clawing for attention at the expense of another person. Your whole blog is defensive you constantly are justifying that it’s ok to sing in concerts (for free?) just for the record As you are as you say of work sick explain this post you made!

    I’m off work sick at the moment, I don’t have a degree, I have 27 years of varied work experience, I have great communication and people skills, a calming, reassuring and professional presence and I can learn new things quickly. if you’re hiring, send me a message. #TimeForChange

    Seems to me that your asking for work, don’t look good. I don’t know how many people you have to face at work, I’m assuming there will be more at the concert. #timeforachange

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    1. you are right, I have got a problem, I’m struggling with a mental illness and I’m scared, really scared about what is going to happen, and that fear can make you behave like a cornered animal, you get it into your head that everyone and everything is conspiring against you, and as you rightly point out, you go on the defensive. I hope you are right, and that the person’s comment was meant to be supportive, and if that’s the case then I owe them an apology, which, they will get, I can admit when I’ve been wrong, and I would want to make amends. In the meantime, as you said previously, I hope that this cloud lifts soon too, I don’t want to feel like this.

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  8. Reblogged this on Chronically Poetic and commented:
    Fab post and I can 100% relate to it. I wrote about it in my own blog not so long ago. So sad that so many of us are judged this way when we are trying to get better and basically live a normal life

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