I’ve been thinking about a couple of posts I saw recently. Well, one on Facebook and one article in the local paper. Both were about suicide, and the one on Facebook in particular mentioned that the person who knew the man who committed suicide had no idea he felt that way.
Which left me thinking about why I, and others like me, don’t talk. I’m not going to go on about any male ego bullshit, I’m trying to come up with helpful answers. Stuff that I’m not 100% sure about, but may help people who want to understand.
I had my therapy appointment today at 10am, and this was actually something I was looking forward to, a space to talk about how my anxious feelings have been getting worse. This appointment was cancelled at 9.10am today. No apology, just cancelled with a phone call.
Which left me in a bit of a turmoil, because while I’m quite lucky in that I have others to talk to, I knew I would go through a number of excuses and thoughts and feelings before I made that call. And in the end I texted. Because it was easier for me.
So I’m wondering, on what grounds would people, who ever they are, not tell anyone how desperate they were?
I go through a number of things when I want to talk to someone. Standard thoughts of ‘I’m not worthy’, or I don’t know what they’re doing’, or I want to be in the right ‘frame of mind’ come up, along with feelings of being incredibly nervous and wondering, before anything happens, what the conversation is going to be like. I’m often thinking I’m going to run out of things to say, and that’s going to be just awkward.
There are other thoughts too, but they all boil down to feelings of self worth, and that maybe I am taking up someone’s time.
The truth is, of course I am taking up their time, but they wouldn’t have given me there number, or spoken to me, or known me all these years for that to be a problem.
This original quote has been attributed many times to Nelson Mandella, but it was actually Marianne Williamson who said it in first in her book ‘A Return To Love’, which I think is a good point:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?"
What that means to me is that you might help another person out by making that call. By sharing with others they may then go on to help you, or help someone else, because you've shared something personal.
So that other person who you connect could be more empowered - by you. In fact, who are you to not make that phone call. To not tell someone how you are feeling?
Latest update: My Therapist has been signed off for the next two weeks.
Originally written on 5th October 2010.
I'm in a hotel in Buckingham as I write this and there is very little 3G signal. A couple of days ago I felt like shit. Truly awful, and I think I'm experiencing for the first time in my life (having had severe depression since I was 14) the 'black dog' that so many have spoken of.
All entirely ironic, considering I am thinking about a piece of film for the 'It Gets Better Campaign.' I'm thinking about it having not seen many of the videos. I'm not sure I would have the guts or whatever to look into a camera and talk about my experiences, although this is definitely something I would like to be okay with. But for now, or until I can use a couple of actors for a day and tell a story to a Melissa Etheridge song, here is what I have to say on the subject.
I was born with a flat nose and a cleft pallet. I couldn't talk properly until I was 9. I've spent the early part of my life from the age of 5 up until 24 in and out of hospital having operations. I had people making fun of me since I can remember until I was 17.
I've had depression since I was 14. I spent most of the last two years of my high school bunking off, wondering around a park, sometimes crying, nearly always listening to music, wondering why the hell I was born. Wondering what the hell I am going to do, and wondering when it's all going to end. And can I make it end? I couldn't see a future. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and I thought I'd be dead by the time I'm 30.
There is no reason on Earth why I should be where I am now. In May this year I was filmed at the BFI talking about film development for the Uscreen website. A couple of months ago I was directing my first online comedy drama.
This time last year I was in LA pitching a wedding comedy feature script. The year before that I was paid to go to the Liverpool Disability Arts Festival DADAFest. The same year I went to Cannes Film Festival for the first time and sold my short film Early One Summer to a Hollywood Distributor.
I use film as a way of communication, as a way to express what I'm interested in, my ideas, my thoughts about the world. I use actors to tell stories with words that I've written. I use the written word to explore how I feel, and to explore different characters and scenarios that interest me. Last year in LA was one of the high points of my life. So was going to Liverpool in 2008. So was receiving my Arts Council funding in 2006, and so was receiving my first commission from DADA-South in 2003. All of this revolved around me making work that I'm passionate about. No matter how its received.
Getting excited about my feature script keeps me excited, keeps me thinking about those high points, and how I can achieve more of them, and how I can make opportunities happen. I pretty much do that with everything because I've just never been the sort of person to say 'make this, you keep the profits, I'll just write it...' or (more to the point) I thought I'd have to make stuff myself, because no one would take a chance on me because of the limited experience I've had.
A lot of that's now changed, and its a different game. Life is about taking opportunities, not thinking (so much) about the dark times, but carrying on through them, by any means necessary. Even if that means screaming for help from people you know, or from people you don't. I don't have a problem with saying 'please do this for me' now, and likewise I don't have a problem with going after what's important until I have it.
It gets better if you go after what you believe in. It gets better if you find something you're passionate about and put your efforts in that. It gets better as you get older, and for the most part, even the difficult times become slightly easier to get through.