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At the age of ten life seems simple, it's all about running jumping and climbing trees. By eighteen you have discovered the opposite sex, alcohol and nightclubs. By twenty five you are your own person, confident and full of life. Suddenly you hit thirty. You find yourself questioning your choices from the years that have past, feeling slightly left on the shelf, wondering where your life is heading, juggling family and friends and faced with ever aging parents. You are not alone, welcome to 30 years and countinga sideways look at life in your thirties.

Coping with depression in your thirties

A few years ago now I was diagnosed with depression. I won’t bore you with the details but I got better and things are now pretty much back to normal. You may have noticed that I said “got better” rather than cured as there is no cure. Like many mental health related illnesses such as alcoholism and obsessive compulsive disorders if you have suffered from depression once it is with you for your whole life. I guess a good way of putting it is you don’t get better but instead you get better at it. You learn how to deal with situations which are likely to trigger it and use coping techniques to ride it out. Today is one of those days when mine came bouncing back and hit me in the face. Here is why.

Depression effects people in lots of different ways. The stereotypical (and somewhat misinformed) view is that you sit at home dressed in black with a razor to your wrists listening to Nick Cave and the bad seeds sing “People just ain’t no good”. In reality those of us who suffer from depression are often very product people. In many circumstance over productive since a heavy workload can mask the signs that you are ill from others and distract from having to deal with the issues yourself. It is the whole burry you head in the sand kind of thing. A lot of  people (sufferers and onlookers alike) still think that depression is not a real illness and that it is a form of weakness or admission of failure. This is simply not true. Depression is a real illness with real effects, and it is certainly not a sign of failure. 

Depression is quite common and about one in ten people will experience depression at some point. Current statistics suggest that women are more likely to have depression than men, and 1 in 4 women will require treatment for depression at some point, compared to 1 in 10 men. This may be because men are less likely to seek help for depression than women and so the true figures are unknown. Men are however far more likely than women to commit suicide. In fact suicide caused by depression is the largest killer of men under the age of forty.

Like I mentioned depression can effect people in a wide number of ways and be caused by an equally wide number of factors and circumstances. For me when mine kicks in it is not a sense of I hate myself or everything is too much to handle but rather a sense of worthlessness. Often it is triggered by a series of repeating failures. The kind of days where nothing seems to go right and ever little things appears to be stacked against you like some sort of worldwide conspiracy. 

This morning I had to make my fortnightly walk into town to sign on at the local job centre. This act alone is depressing enough. Having to walk past all the local chavs with their Staffordshire Bull Terriers drinking cans of Stella and smoking Sterling cigarettes  outside the job centre at half nine in the morning. Sitting in the waiting area listening to them moan about their ten different children by ten different women who they can never be bothered to see and worse still bitching at the poor staff because they have been waiting five minutes when they could have been down the pub even though they turned up late in the first place and didn’t bother to bring the correct paperwork with them anyway. It is enough to depress anyone. This then was what I had to look forward to this morning when I got up.

Nonetheless I got showered and ready to walk into town. I keep my job search on the computer since it is easier to have it all in one place for record keeping rather than an endless number of loose sheets thrown in a draw. I plugged the computer in to print off this weeks record and the printer starts to moan “ERROR” at me. Come on, you are a printer, it is not a difficult job to have, your one function is to print stuff. After twenty minutes of cursing, reloading the paper, reinstalling the ink cartridge, switching the printer on and off, switching the computer on and off and finally reinstalling the drivers it finally spewed out my one page of A4. I mean really? It worked perfectly fine a week ago when it was last used and all it has done since then was sit in the cupboard.

I was now running late. I rushed out the door and down the road only to find that Maz’s cat was following me. This isn’t the first time she has done this. Maz and I often go for evening walks after dinner and the cat often follows us around the estate. To get out of the estate however you have to cross a busy main road. A main road which the cat won’t go near. That is except today when she decided to follow me out of the estate and down to the road only to find herself scared by the traffic and run around like a sock in a washing machine. Despite my best efforts she would not run away from my side. Fearing that if I crossed the road she would try to follow I had to walk all the way back to Maz’s house in order to lock the cat in so she would be safe. I got to within ten feet of the front door and the cat raced off in the opposite direction and disappeared out of sight. So back I go through the estate to the main road with one eye looking behind me to make sure I wasn’t being followed again. I was now really late.

Having walked off the estate I was now away from the bus route into town and with thirty minutes left to make it on time and four miles to cover I needed to hurry. When I set off the sky was grey and it was cold but for some reason the weather decided to get in on the act too and out came the first sunshine we have seen for a week making the morning hot and the coat I was wearing less than comfortable as I ran along the road. Other delights of my journey included fighting through the gaggle of Mothers on the school run with their huge buggies and 4x4 cars which they drive at you with equal abandonment and disregard for anyone else around them all in an effort to get home and watch Jeremy Kyle. Add to this the woman driving along while doing her makeup who decided to turn her car into a junction without looking even though I was half way across the road at the time and the HGV lorry driver who was on his phone when he reversed up onto the pavement just missing me. Fun times.

Eventually I made it to the job centre be it rather hot and bothered. At this point I figured I would get the bus home. Sod walking back. So off to the bus station I went. Naturally a bus was just pulling away as I arrived and despite seeing me wave frantically at him the driver continued on his merry way. I joined the small queue which started to form and waited for the next one which turned up half an hour later even though they are meant to run every ten minutes. Of course there had to be a change of drivers didn’t there so I had to wait another ten minutes for the new one to turn up. While I waited I was stuck behind a monster of a woman almost as big as the bus itself who was finishing off a packet (yes a packet) of sausage rolls while moaning to herself at the top of her voice with a vocabulary usually reserved for sailors about how she had to stand and wait for the new driver. Eventually the driver turned up, inspected the bus, found something wrong with it and then called his supervisor. This of course meant more waiting and more listen to the stupid fat woman who I could still hear even though she had left the queue and taken a seat on a nearby bench. Clearly ten minutes of standing was more than she could handle. Finally the supervisor turned up. Together with the driver they inspected a panel on the side of the bus. The supervisor then left only to return five minutes later with a hammer which he proceeded to repeatedly hit the panel with before announcing it was fixed. Having now waited the best part of an hour I finally got on the bus. Not before the fat woman who had left the queue pushed her way back in front of me and then proceeded to take up both seats (yep she really was that big) at the front of the bus reserved for elderly people.

By this point I really didn’t care. I took a seat at the back of the bus as far away from the planet size blob at the front as possible for fear of being sucked into her orbit. The bus pulled away, drove out of the bus station, down the ramp and pulled up at the first stop less than a minutes walk away from the bus station where the beast of a woman got off. All that moaning for that. You lazy bitch. Let me guess it is a glandular problem? Of course it is (see here for what I mean). As she waddled off the bus she pushed pass almost knocking over an old man with a stick who must have been pushing the best part of a hundred years old. Slowly, ever so slowly, he made his way onto the bus and took a seat.

I sat and looked at that old man for the journey home. He was wearing an old crumpled suit with a pressed shirt and tie both of which had seen better days and his hands shock as he clutched at the handrail. I sat and thought about the life he must have lived. All those years he would have seen pass and the people that must have come and gone, friends and family alike. And now here he was sat on his own on this bus having almost been flatten by a human vending machine. I sat and thought - I hope I never get that old. I then thought - I hope I never get that old because I don’t want this to be my life. That is when the depression kicked in. A sense that no matter what I did it would never be better than this. That my life and what I do with it has no meaning and no greater effect upon the life of others. We all want to feel that we matter even in some small way. I felt trapped. Sucked down by the frustrations of the morning and the seemingly pointless nature of my existence. That in my life, like the old man, I was still dressing to look smart when really no one cared anymore. What was the point? Why fight it. Maybe this is all I will ever be.

This then is what causes my bouts of depression and how it effects me. The post you have just read is my coping mechanism. I throw my life out there for all to see. I bare my soul. I started this blog with one intention: to know that I was not alone and that others felt like I did and faced similar experiences. That intention continues.

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