It’s a truth universally acknowledged that men of a certain age lose that easy memory they’ve relied upon until middle life.
I have yet another notebook in which I’ve recorded my depressed days. This time there are four pages of writing and about 61 blank lined sheets. A hard covered orange number imported by Hunt & Broadhurst Ltd, a company in West Yorkshire.
I found it about ten days ago and I’ve been protecting it from publication because I’m afraid it may be the last notebook I’ll find containing words written during one of me bouts of severe sadness.
These words (dating I guess back to 1999) are my only road back into what it was like to be crippled with depression. The memory is dead and gone. The experience of the depression, and the recovery from it, are not lost to my unconscious- but I have no way of transporting myself back to those days through the normal act of memory.
Depression murders memory.
I know for sure that I am in depression when I am unable to remember the simplest thing that someone said five minutes ago. Actually it’s more like one minute ago… Depression for me is characterised by an absolute lack of interest in the future. In order to help prepare for the future, memory is normally active and reasonably competent. During a bout of depression I remember almost nothing, and after a bout I find it almost impossible to remember what went on throughout the period I was embroiled with my self in that coracle of doom and despond.
So you can see how precious all words written during depression become later. At the time they are being written I feel they are rubbish. Almost incoherent and certainly without the slightest artist merit. I look at the handwriting and it looks as if it too is cracked up. I notice every slip of the pen belong the line. (I now remember being in the earliest school desk with a nibbed piece of wood and inkwell, and learning to write between four lines: two close together and two wider out. I remember the effort to write so that the ink sat
perfectly tangential to the line… Maybe not exactly what I’m trying to say, but it’ll do for now.)
I write with a departed spirit and a shaky hand during those days.
Is it any wonder I stay away from paper.
Memories in Writing:
This piece ,from the hard-covered orange volume, begins with the word “Friday” underlined.
“I bought this book in order to write into it a description of my current life: I thought I would put into it the things I was afraid of putting anywhere else - in other words the truth.
“It is now almost 10 AM and I have dressed after lying in bed listening to 5Live. I’ve taken 100 Dutonin, half the dose recommended by Dr S. Also a homeopathic remedy which LV gave me.
“I am sitting on the sofa in my front room in 30 Churches. The house seems to be a mess - papers all over the place, under chairs, classes in this room which need to be washed and cleaned away.
“What am I going to do today? There are at least six work projects hanging over me which I have not made any progress with all week. Since I came back from Dublin on Monday I have spent two bits of time with Dai and loads of time watching TV and playing minesweeper, Solitaire and Hearts on the computer.
“The sun is shining, inviting me to go out for a walk. Perhaps I shall go out. One of the attractions of going out is that no one could reach me on the phone. I dread answering the phone and when I do answer it I immediately concentrate on finishing the conversation as quickly as possible. Last night Nina rang to ask whether I’d like to come to London in April, when Steve and Ann-Marie are over. That is something I don’t want to do because I don’t want to see people. Steve rang to say he wanted to send me an e-mail. I wanted to get off the phone asap. He asked me how E. is and I said she was OK and was doing some work defending her budget.
“E. rang from her office at 1000pm. I wanted to get the phone call over so that I could go back into my cell-like existence.
“Today Ben and Jacob are coming for the weekend I don’t want to see them.
“I don’t want to see anyone: except someone I can later forget altogether.
“Jan gave me the name of a psychotherapist who might be able to see me. I have not rung him. I want people to be concerned, fussing about me, worried about me but I do not want to do anything for myself. A baby, refusing to grow up!
“Work: I want to spit in the face of those commitments. The Workshop for P.Ms (Property Managers) which is due in November, I do not want to organise it, contact people to help me run it.
“I hate my job and hate my whole life I do not want to live and am angry. Angry at noone in particular, nor over anything in particular by resentful.
“How can I waste this day? Working back from the fact that I shall need to have this house ready for Ben + maybe Jacob the last afternoon, that gives me a few more hours to kill.
“I’ll go for a walk. Noone would criticise me for going out into the sun. I could go down to see Roger in the bookshop…..”
There is one more page, dated Thurs. 12 Aug 99. I’ll keep that for another time. Wouldn’t want to spend all my pocketmoney in the one shop.
Interruptions happen for a good reason…
I got a phonecall from Adrian while I was writing this. He asked me for the name of a recruitment agency in Cork. I got my big red notebook, my A4 hardback. I wrote down “