The most common thing I tend to hear when I emerge from a bout of depression or even mania is, “Oh Ellie, I’m so sorry why didn’t you call me. The truth of the matter is that I have brilliant friends; they are understanding and supportive and very hard to scare these days after coming to accept the fact that from time to time my life resembles an episode of Hollyoaks on speed without the hair dye or homicide. The problem is that when I get low I go into near hibernation from the world and the oddest thing is that even though one might feel completely lonely and desperate for company when it seems like the hardest thing in the world to pick up the phone or even answer it to concerned loved ones. I find myself in a haze of darkness and I manage to convince myself it is better no one see me this way if they think less of me as a person or more importantly if I bring them down. I love-making people giggle and although I am always seeking feedback there are times when criticism and rejection crushes me completely and can leave me near inconsolable for days at a time.
Sometimes, as with last night I can force myself into going out in spite of being low and when this happens I rarely regret it. Last night one of my friends conducted a mini textual assault on me which convinced me to leave the house and go and meet her and some other old school friends for a meal at Zizis to raise my spirits. It is one of the few restaurant chains to have made any mark on Market Harborough and continues to be packed thanks to voucher offers and the buzz these create about the place. You may have to wait an age for your food and they may give you Shandy when you ask for Chardonnay but they do so with a smile and you don’t mind waiting because everyone is in the same boat and no one makes a fuss if they are recognised doing so by their fellow Harborians. Making a fuss is not one of the characteristics of Harborians who generally prefer to wait till they have left the offending place to moan of poor service than complaining to the propertiers themselves, as this would be impolite.
Last night, or yesterday’s dress even was not entirely well thought out as I was travelling; the zips have a tendency to edge their way up or down without one noticing which is never a good idea when you are sitting opposite bored businessman with nothing else to look at. It worked out quite well however as it was nice to wear something a bit dressy out for dinner and when combined with my Mother’s fur bag (faux as far as I’m aware) felt just fancy enough. My friend, budding filmmaker Master Williams took the photos and assumed some rather arty angles for the images.
I wish I was able to say yes to things more often when I am feeling down, it usually does me good to get away from my thoughts which when I’m down are negative and sluggish but when I’m high are a constant stream of ideas and bright energy which is hard to ignore. In the past when I have been especially ill I have even gone so far as to turn off my phone, too afraid of what people will say if they know how low I have sunk. In spite of the social tools we now have at our disposal it is surprisingly easy to turn oneself off from it all. There is always however the hard-core friends who refuse to take silence lying down and continue to find new and inventive ways of trying to get through to your true self and the friend who they love so well. It is not that these friends or indeed family are necessarily better friends than the others who feel it is better to give one space, it is just they are quite relentless and both less afraid of and less willing to be ignored.
The difficulty of depression is that you do often cut yourself off from the things you love, I do not really understand why this is but it’s probably for the same reason you find yourself staying in bed when deep down you know the sunshine will lift you even if you just open the curtains. When I start to emerge from these spells I can all too often be plunged back into one by my own thoughts of how selfishly I have behaved not to have been around for my friends. It is frustrating because it is not as though I do not want to be there for them, as I have said they are brilliant and without them I would never have this far nor have had such a wonderful life, it just seems easier to hide when you are not feeling yourself and are too ashamed to let anyone know. A good friend of mine who also suffers from the blues once told me that she knew I had had a bad patch because I had been out of touch. She did not prod for too many details she just accepted it as it was and was pleased I was getting back on track. At the time and still to this day her forgiveness for my lack of contact and her understanding why meant so much to me and it allowed me to start turning on once more.