Awareness is peeling a cat off of your face

Sometimes I forget that depression actually has an impact on your life, even when you’re on medication. Winston Churchill famously called it his ‘black dog’; I think it’s more like a cat. You own it, it’s yours, but sometimes it’s not really around, it just bops about, prowls the neighbourhood and lets you get on with your day, only popping back through the flap for food and maybe a nap on your keyboard when you’re trying to type. But sometimes it wants all of your attention, it rubs against your legs, sinks claws into your clothes and leaves hair on everything you own. It howls at night and impatiently prods you awake in the morning. Sometimes it hisses at guests or demands so much of your energy that you can’t bring yourself to go out.

I’ll admit, I’ve never owned a cat. But I do have depression, and it’s really starting to piss me off.

I mentioned in my first blog post that I’d been suffering again for a few months and I’d finally asked for help. The pills are excellent, but they’re not miracle workers. I need to get better at recognising when I need to do something extra to keep myself on an even keel.

I just spent the last week in Cardiff, which is where I did my undergrad and MA. I ran the creative writing group that I started and did the final edit of a short story I’ve been working on. I caught up with mates and dressed in drag for a house party. I laughed. I haven’t done that in ages.

For the last few weeks I’ve been feeling a bit unmotivated. I’ve been struggling to just crack on with my work. I’ve been avoiding the gym and making up excuses not to go out. I thought I was just being lazy. Turns out there was a cat sinking its claws into my face. As soon as you acknowledge it you can peel it off and encourage it to sod off to somewhere less infuriating.

Yesterday I got back to Sheffield, I rearranged my room (again), bought another desk from gumtree to add onto the end of mine, giving me more space to explode my thoughts over and organised my paperwork into piles. Today I installed curtain hold-backs so I get more light in my room, read one of my thesis novels and got 6 new piercings in my ears.

officeI’m going to commit to reading my way through my long list of thesis narratives and hope that it helps secure the theory that I’ve been reading for the last 6 months into something more chapter-shaped.

I’m going to have to apologise to my supervisors for not sending the work I promised and hopefully try and attack it at some point this week.

Words: 0

Gym sessions: 0

Narratives read: 1

New piercings: 6


4 thoughts on “Awareness is peeling a cat off of your face

  1. Diolch Emma. Like your short story this is filled with brutal honesty and energy, but also shot through with pathos and warmth. The more people talk and write honestly about depression, the less likely we are to see tabloid headlines about the great evil overtaking our society and how the depressed can’t be trusted and the less likely people are to look at you like the Freak from Freakworld. The cat is the perfect metaphor for depresssion. You never own depression, it comes and goes on its own terms, occasionally it needs feeding and watering, but mostly lets you go about your day. But, when it needs your attention, hey you’ll know about it and it demands your entire focus.

    So glad that you had a fab time back in the diff and laughter suffused your soul. As Victor Hugo put it, “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.” Today my cat has formed a loose partnership with the black dog and they are barking and miaowing furiously for my attention, pissing territorially, and fighting for my attention, but music that great soother of the savage breast and blogs like yours are keeping them off my chest.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry to hear that your menagerie is getting a bit raucous. Glad this added a bit of cheer.
      I feel like my trips to the Diff are a top up of joy to keep me going.
      I was inspired by someone on my Facebook timeline who wrote very frankly about her depression. I wanted to do the same in support but most of my family don’t know about my cat. But I agree, the more that’s written about it, the less stigma it will incur… Hopefully.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good on you! I remember the day I told my mam (seventeen years post diagnosis – it felt like coming out – she knew only too well that the black dog/cat had been stalking me and has been brilliant).
        Joys are the things that make any of this randomness worthwhile. It sounds like you are suffused with hiraeth (defies translation) for the diff. It’s a top place.
        Trying to write short stories and reflections when the menagerie is playing up, is proving interesting, but they will quiet down soon enough and remember that I am the one with opposable thumbs and the love of Rochester (you really should read Rochester if you get the chance – anyone who dropped the c-bomb in the seventeenth century is ok by me). Hwyl


      2. Hiraeth is my favourite Welsh word, and very accurate.
        I drunk bought a book of Rochester at the Christmas writing group. Haha. Haven’t read any yet though.
        They’ve taken me off my wonder pills because of my bruises…will see how that plays out.
        When in doubt, do a timed bout of free writing 😉 x

        Liked by 1 person

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