Oi, you lot. Can you all please stop being so mean to my friend Cathy Odgers! She is not some Machiavellian Cruella de Vil.
She's just a naughty girl. Cathy is just a bit too clever for her own good - I think boredom is what prompts her to be a stirrer. Cactus may put on a spiky front with her outrageous sense of humour but she is also one of the kindest people I have ever met. (She brought my children the biggest Paddington Bear you have ever seen.) And despite her own dramas going on - she even got death threats - Cathy has been a loyal support to me while I've been depressed. (She will probably hate me for saying that.) Sample advice: "A hypothesis, DHC, do you think the problem here is you put your happiness or sadness in the hands of men?" She's staunch. And when you are judging Cathy, just imagine how great you'd look if someone stole your private emails.
Anyway, back to me me me. After insouciantly confessing to suffering depression, I felt like I ought to let readers out there - hi! - know that I am feeling quite a bit better. I now subscribe to the "lemonade notion": the idea that oppression breeds the power to oppose it. It's hard work though.
Psychiatrist, doctor, vet, psychotherapist, gym, accountant. It is expensive being bonkers (and having a sick dog).
Utilise the healing power of water. I love the Teps and they are free for kids. "There is no poet for whom water is not their first love."
I went blonde. Cliche I know. But made me feel hotter, for about a minute.
When I told my psychotherapist the tragic events which set off my depression he said, 'That can't feel too nice," in just the sort of flat voice that Jennifer Melfi might use on Tony Soprano. (My psychotherapist is a young man, as I was not allowed to be sent to an older man as there might have been "transference" due to my Daddy Issues.) The psychotherapist also told me I read too many self-help books.
I stopped taking the SSRI antidepressants. They made me feel emotionally dead, like a dry-eyed zombie schlepping around in Kate Sylvester.
I am on another drug which boosts your dopamine (the reward chemical). Not sure if it's the drug or just time, but it seems to be helping.
Exercise. Always the best medication.
I suspect much of depression is fear. Fear of unbearable emotional pain. So I've decided I need to do something else terrifying. I haven't decided what yet. (Run a marathon, stand-up comedy, swim with sharks, pat cheetahs.) Sometimes you have to be brave and surrender to the worst thing you fear. But it's so freaking hard.
I watch a lot of the TV show Rake. Laughing helps.
Part of letting go is learning to live with the misunderstanding, incompleteness and messiness of it all.
When it all gets too hard, go to Cibo and have a dirty martini.
Best medicine: friends and family who have listened to me drivel on and on for hours, poured me another chardonnay, put Pandora on the blues channel, and (apparently) still love me.
"Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on Earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could." Louise Erdrich.
I know, the bit about apples is rather naff. But I caught myself actually enjoying something yesterday. It was only the pleasure of mashing potatoes, but still.
I am trying to find the ecstasy hidden in ordinary joys. And to remember, in the midst of even the grimmest election campaign, or whatever else has broken you, that love and forgiveness are almost always the answer to everything.