So I am walking down Victoria Street a couple of hours ago, and a very kindly lady stops me, says hello and asks me why I haven’t blogged for a while. I could tell in her eyes that she knew the answer …
This happened a couple of days after I had been walking down Wood Lane, an inconsequential event which nonetheless inspired a tweet from someone saying they had seen a ‘deeply unhappy looking’ @campbellclaret (i.e me) walking around Shepherd’s Bush. It was the ‘walking around’ that annoyed me. Truth be told I was feeling ‘deeply unhappy’, but ‘walking around’ suggested total aimlessness, whereas in fact I was striding fairly purposefully to the BBC for a meeting about the film I am making about alcohol.
The twitteralert – there really is no such thing as privacy in a public place in twitterland – was exacerbated when I noticed the author had a ‘Dr’ prefix. It turned out @DrDannyPenman had just been on the Beeb himself, because he is a journalist and the author of a book, ‘Mindfulness: finding peace in a frantic world.’
Fair play to him that his powers of observation were such that he realised I was not my usual happy self, and to the lady today who assumed I was ‘off colour.’
So this is all a long-winded route towards saying that yes, some time between Christmas and the New Year, the beginnings of what Churchill called his Black Dog began to come near, and by the time we were back from Scotland, it had its gnashers well and truly gnashing.
This is bad news for me, and for my family, though experience tells me this one ought to pass by the beginning of next week, and I have plenty of stuff to keep me busy over the weekend. However, Digital Dan, who I mentioned in my last but one blog before Christmas, and is in charge of ebooks at Random House, is probably rather pleased. What better time for me to be depressed than when launching The Happy Depressive, which is published next week?
As any depressive will tell you, there is never a good time to be depressed, and the lack of blogging has been matched by a more general lack of energy, focus and all the other things that tend to evaporate when depression hits.
Partly – I think – because of my openness about depression, and the exploration of it for the ebook and for my novel on some of the same themes, the gaps between my depressions have been getting longer. But when they come, the horrible-ness, if such a word exists, is as intense as though it is happening for the first time. Everything becomes too much of an effort and those things you have to make an effort for, and somehow manage to, drain more energy than they should.
As to why it fell when it did … a lot of depressives find Christmas and the New Year difficult, and I certainly think there is a seasonal and cyclical element to my depressions. It is also possible, in fact I think it is highly likely, that the psychological impact of Philip Gould’s death took a bit of time really to be felt. In the immediate aftermath of death, there is a lot to do, there are codes to observe, other people to worry about.
It is fitting then that The Guardian, which is running an extract from The Happy Depressive tomorrow, has opted to focus on the section I have written about Philip’s death and what I learned from it about life, death and happiness.
Meanwhile, to @DrDannyPenman yes thank you, I would love a copy of your book. I’d send you mine, but Dan says it is currently only available digitally! It’s a brave new world apparently …