If you haven’t picked up on it from some of my other blog posts, I’ll spell it out: I’ve been feeling a little depressed lately. That’s nothing too unusual for me; I suffer from depression and anxiety. My doctor told me. Depression, for the uninitiated, isn’t a simple case of feeling a bit blue, a bit glum; depression is a way of life. You might punk your hair up and listen to death metal on the weekend, then show up for work on Monday in a suit and tie, but we’re the guys with tattoos on our faces and gauges in our nostrils. We’re living it 24/7. We don’t have bad days, or a bad weekend; we have bad fucking years.
My depression usually lasts for about three months at a time, maybe longer, maybe shorter. And I don’t just feel sad or wistful: I get headaches, I can’t eat, I succumb to alcohol, I keep the blinds closed until my wife can bear it, I wear pajamas 90% of the time I’m home, I miss work, I go into short bursts of panic when the phone rings or there’s a knock on the door, I don’t cry at sad things – I cry at happy things, but worst of all, I walk around with this emptiness, this emotional black hole that sits in my chest with the weight of a collapsed star, and eats… just eats away at me, at my humanity. So yeah, I’ve had that going for me for the last few months.
But here’s the good news: I can feel it start to lift. A lot of this is just timing; it’s the gradual and natural healing process. Some of it is experience; I’ve come to terms with having this illness and have learned when, and how, to say “fuck off depression” and kind of force myself to get over it. But there are some awesome changes going on in my life right now, and I surprise myself by how excited and happy I feel lately (seriously, having a happy disposition is a depressive’s Holy Grail). In two weeks (maybe sooner), I’m going to have a daughter – the absolute mind-fuck of awesomeness this brings is starting to sink in. We’re cutting her out, so already that’s one decision we’ve taken out of her hands – the first of a lifetime full of them. I guess therapy has helped too. My therapist played a key role in getting me to write again, and that sure has helped. The outcome of that is this blog, and I’ve had a lot of positive feedback about it, from people who don’t know me, and thus don’t have reason to offer false platitudes just to protect my gentle ego. But most of all, I’ve had the unconditional support of my family: My son and my wife.
When I was about 15, I had every inch of wall covered with pictures of Rock Stars and Sporting heroes. I had a poster of every member of the Manchester United ’94 double-winning team. Individually. I had about 50 posters of Eric Cantona. And while my hero worship for these guys never faded, the pictures eventually came down (there comes a point in time of every man’s life, when he either starts taking pictures of fully-grown, athletic men in awkward positions off his walls, or else starts putting them up; they’re a different kind of picture).
Nowadays, although I’m still a fan of sports – to the point of obsession – I don’t really look up to the guys on the field anymore. They’re not my heroes. Sure, I can admire them, and I can appreciate the action and drama they create in my life. For a start, they’re all younger than me now. It’d just be weird to worship a 22 year old because he can throw a ball real good. Ditto with music: I can be moved by a piece of music, inspired by lyrical genius, but I wouldn’t cry if Robert Smith died tomorrow, like fifteen year old me did over Kurt Cobain. Nor do I try to find deep, hidden meanings in their lyrics, as if God’s signature was hidden somewhere in the second verse.
My heroes are a lot closer to home now. More tangible. They’re my heroes because I love and admire the sacrifices they’ve made in their ordinary, everyday lives, not for fame or fortune, but because it was right, or because they had to just to get one foot in front of the other. Because of pure, old-fashioned integrity.
My Dad is my hero: he faced his death with a stoicism and strength that’s still unfathomable to me as a mature (no really…) adult, and a father. Even in his dying moments, he tried to protect us all from the worst of his pain. But more than that, he was a man of incredible integrity, who didn’t take bullshit off anybody, who believed in himself at all costs; he a man with razor-sharp intelligence – he studied math for fun – but most of all, he was a kind man, and an awesome dad, who never failed to make my Brother and Me laugh. And even though I haven’t seen him in 15 years, he’ll always be a hero to me.
But I have another hero in my life. Right here and now, the one person who continues to stand side by side with me, through my darkest days, through all the shit I’ve created in her life, is my beautiful wife. My wife suffers from a long-term chronic illness, which sometimes is a complete drag and the rest of the time makes the simple act of existing painful. It’s the kind of illness that would have destroyed me years ago, but every day she gets out of bed, eats breakfast – sometimes through a thick mist of nausea – gets in the shower, puts her make-up on, makes her hair all pretty, and says “Fuck you Ulcerative Colitis” like a fucking boss!
She cares for our son while I’m at work, with no family for support, despite the fact that she’s 37 weeks pregnant, and often enduring the kind of suffering most of us can only guess at. And she’s awesome with him. She does little art projects with him, and teaches him his colors, and numbers, and letters. She’s even thought him to read a bunch of words. And she’s sweet and loving and patient with him to an extent that seems almost impossible on reflection.
And she’s sweet and loving and patient with me too. She didn’t sign up for an alcoholic with depression who’s let himself go a little, but she sure as hell is sticking by him. My wife is the main reason why I’m starting to feel better. Without her support and love, I’d be drunk in a studio apartment somewhere, weeping silently while I furiously masturbate to some kind of strange foreign pornography. But she’s protected me from that life – Goddammit, she’s swooped in superman style, and saved me from that life. A life of bad pornography and tears. Her problems are hers, and my problems are hers, and though that might not be fair, she gives zero fucks because she’s my wife and she loves me. And I love her. Immensely. She’s my hero for all that, and more.
Plus… she’s super fucking hot!!!