As the title of this article probably suggests, this post contains some strong language.
This has been a weird year.
On one side of the coin, as I’m coming towards the end of my near-2-year PhD placement with Kirklees Local TV, I sit here reflecting on a wonderful experience which has significantly boosted my confidence and my self-esteem. I’ve never felt more valued. What’s more, I truly feel I’ve made a positive contribution to their cause. The people I’ve been working with up there are fantastic, and I’m really going to miss making films with them – although I’m very much looking forward to writing all about it in my thesis over the next twelve months.
On the flipside, there was the unexpected ending of a long-term relationship, just a month or so ago. Breakups are almost never easy, but some are harder than others. With a breakup often comes a series of tales – a mixture of ‘narrative truths’ and ‘Chinese whispers’ that blend in with one another and make you question which fragments are actually real – as you try to come to terms with the loss, and prepare yourself to start anew. One of the narratives I’ve really struggled to come to terms with, though – and this has been brought to my attention from quite a few places now – is that one of the main reason the relationship failed for the person on the other side was because “my depression brought them down”.
Yes, I question how much of this is truth or whisper. But in the wake of one big breakup, and on the brink of another, I wanted to say something about this.
Now, anyone who knows me half well knows I unashamedly love a good analogy. So here’s one about a boat on a river, which came to me after reflecting on spending some quality time on the Norfolk Broads with my family a couple of weeks ago. And that time to reflect made me realise this:
I am not a fucking burden.
I’m a big lad, so whilst the boat’s electric motor certainly wasn’t under any significant strain, having my weight on-board inevitably slowed it down a fair bit. But I like to think my presence there, alongside the people who had chosen to be there with me, might have at least made that journey along the river a little more enjoyable than it would have been without me.
So maybe the extra baggage is worth it? It certainly seems to have been for those I’ve shared my work life with of late, but perhaps this isn’t the case for everybody else.
Sure, spending part of your life with someone who lives with clinical depression might not be as easy as it would be without them. It takes extra work, extra effort, and quite often, an extra bit of patience, particularly when the happenings of life make the mental load that little bit harder to bear. But I’d like to hope that taking on that bit of strain, as it ebbs and flows, might make the journey that bit more enjoyable for those who choose to share this boat with me – no matter what river it runs down.
I’m not sure what else to add to this really. It might not be a perfect analogy, but it’s helped me to see something that I’d previously missed.
And hey, if you’re sat there reading this and still feeling like I’m slowing your boat down, do please feel free to do us both a favour and jump the fuck out. But I bet you anything you won’t find another boat as colourful.