The Seven Habits of Highly Reflective People – The Signposts Of Depression And How To Spot Them
Thankfully it doesn’t happen very often, but occasionally I get accused of being deep. This isn’t me being self-deprecating, by the way. I’m not saying “yes, well, I am deep but I try not to be”. Deep is bad. Deep is not your friend. Deep is a symptom of a burgeoning mental imbalance. This is because saying a person is “Deep” is just another way of saying that they think way too much.
If you are one of those people who consider themselves to be deep, then allow me to say that I am sorry. Not sorry that you may have found the above paragraph offensive. No, sorry that you have managed to superimpose a positive over what is actually a dangerous and debilitating mental affliction. Because if this is the case, then you and your brain have a great deal of strife in store.
Unless you are a highly trained professional poet, the business of Deepness is one best not meddled in. Even then, it’s a risky venture. Don’t get it all out on paper, hold a bit too much back and you can end up at the bottom of a lake, weighted down by the stones in your coat pockets. Poets are not renowned for living long and happy lives. Even the most serious of the Romantic ones occasionally wrote something about how nice churchyards are or how pretty frost is in order to stave off the inevitable.
The problem with your common-or-garden, non-poetic deepness is this. It has depth all right- I’m not denying that- but it has very little breadth. It is just the same thoughts over and over again but in slightly different forms. Psychologists have even named some of these thought behaviours. There’s Catastrophe Thinking, Crystal Balling, Mind Reading, Emotional Reasoning. The list goes on. But they all boil down to the same thing. Thinking the same stuff over and over again until you spiral in yourself and disappear so far up your own fundament that you can’t see reality anymore. In other words: depression.
I suffer from depression. This manifested itself quite early on in my teens and in a peculiar way made me live my life sort of backwards. When I was 17, I spent a lot of time “exploring my inner self ”. I did Yoga and Ritual Magic and spent Friday nights in discussion groups debating the words of Yogi Ramacharaka and Annie Bessant. What I should have been doing of course was sneaking into night clubs with the intent of ensnaring teenage girls for the purposes of sexual relations.
Though it was intellectually challenging, I found that “exploring my inner self” left me feeling hollow and unsatisfied. There was an obvious reason for this. I hadn’t filled my inner self up with anything yet, due to only being 17.
Then years later, when I got divorced and hit my 30’s and reading a bit of philosophy and navigating my inner depths might not have been a bad idea, I in fact did no such thing. I chose this point in my life to sneak into night clubs and to ensnare teenage girls for the purposes of sexual relations. I didn’t do this deliberately. My intention was to ensnare anyone vaguely attractive for the aforementioned sexual relations. But women in their 20s and 30s can smell a recently divorced man a mile away. Teenage girls have no such sixth sense, and probably wouldn’t care to use it if they did, provided there were enough free drinks in the deal. You don’t have to go out of your way to pull them either. Just stand around looking affluent and disinterested and they soon seem to find you oddly fascinating.
It may seem that I have gone a bit off topic here, but there is a point to that story. I was very depressed after my divorce, and depression can make you do some really stupid things. It is insidious and, unless you are bipolar, it always kind of sneaks up on you. there will always be signs though. Every Highly Reflective Person, by which I mean depressive person, has at least seven habits that signal a slide back into the pit. These are mine.
Caffeine is my Kryptonite. It just does not agree with me. It makes me jittery and nervous and really fucking annoying, like a coked up stranger at a dinner party who insists on telling you about his screenplay. But when I start down the road of depression, I think “I’m a grown man, the odd can of Diet Coke won’t kill me”. This leads to more and more Diet Cokes until I’m constantly anxious and can’t sleep very well. This leads to….
After all the caffeine, my brain won’t shut the fuck up for more than a few seconds. So I use the only thing that can give me a moment’s peace : red wine. A couple of times a week, then a bit more and then I’m drinking every night. This leads to….
If you smoke, booze and fags fit together like bric-a-brac. Add the internet, and you have the Holy Trinity. If I have a nicotine stain on my left middle finger, it means I’m spending lots of time late at night smoking and doing things on the web that involve very little typing and lots of right handed mouse clicking. Surfing my way to an emotionally numbing braingasm via porn, Twitter, Facebook and strings of mindless YouTube videos. This leads to….
Eating Bad Food
Waking up with a hangover, a hacking cough and low blood sugar every morning, I just grab the nearest empty calories. Usually I fixate on one type of bad food. Recently it’s been cream cakes. Every day at work, I eat a cream cake. And I fucking hate cream cakes. On previous occasions, the food in question has been microwave burger, Boost bars and the Full English Breakfast. All the caffeine, booze, bad food and poor quality sleep then leads to….
I’m not saying that reading Discworld novels is a bad thing. But I work a job which frequently means not starting work until two in the afternoon. I often awake very early due to the indigestion caused by the caffeine, booze and bad food. So I lie in bed and plough my way through the comforting world of the Discworld novels I own. Which is all of them. This leads to….
Prolific as he was, Terry Pratchett is now sadly no longer with us. There isn’t going to be any more Discworld novels. Also, there’s only so much Discworld even I can take in one day. So I often have a period of fake and brittle brightness, where I go to the shops and “treat myself”. By “treat myself” I mean “buy loads of crap I don’t need and stick it on my groaning credit card”. Whether the balance of my credit card is going up or down is usually a pretty accurate insight into the balance of my mind. Looking at my next statement after one of these splurges usually leads to…..
The HitchHikers Guide To The Galaxy
This is something which has been with me since I was nine. It’s a rock that reminds me of the absurdity of life. But if it’s a rock that I have to stand on for more than a few days, I’m in big fucking trouble. Listening to The Guide over and over again means I’m just a hair’s breadth away from hospitalization.
I’m going to stick this list on my fridge and check it on a weekly basis to make sure I don’t get to the “Hitch Hiker” stage ever again. Feel free to make your own list and stick it to your own fridge if you think it will help.
© Copyright Michael Grimes 2013