I was going to write something very different for this post, I had it roughly planned, half written, but just couldn’t work out how to finish it. But then I started working on the lyric sheets for the secondary/staff choir I have started and the four chord intro from ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ has been going around my head for half an hour.
The first piece the choir is learning is the Four Chord Song – complied by an Australian group called the Axis of Awesome it layers around 40 different songs over the same four chords. In this case: E B C#min A. The main section of the group repeats these chords whilst soloists or small groups sing a line of a song over the top. It’s going to sound brilliant, but there is an element of being stuck in a rut.
Four seems to be a number that pops all over the place – 4 nieces and nephews, 4 brothers and sisters, 4 months since Dad died, 4 rooms in my flat that I wander around, 4 men I’ve loved and have been dissapointed by, 4 year degree, 4 suitcases piled on top of my wardrobe, 4 websites that I check almost daily, 4 terms in this job before I decide if I want to stay an extra year, 4 companies that I worked for in Newcastle, 4 seasons, 4 horsemen of the apocalypse, 4 people I know would help me hide the body if I killed someone (don’t worry, that is only ever going to be a theoretical one!) 4 birds currently sat on my window… Obviously you can find patterns anywhere, I could probably do the same for 7 or 3 or 12, but four is the one jumping out at me right now.
I think I’m having a minor bought of depression. It happens, it began happening originally when my parents split up 9 years ago and I moved to the North East. Then it popped up again when I didn’t get a job I was essentially promised. I was depressed for most of the time I was with my ex and it came back over Christmas. I must have been a barrel of laughs for the people I was staying with!
It’s not a case of saying I’m depressed because I feel a bit crappy, I’ve been diagnosed a few times and was referred to counselling but the first woman I went to see had a smelly dog there so I didn’t go back and the other times the waiting list was so long that I felt better and cancelled it. I’ve never taken tablets for it or anything, I seem to have developed my own way of coping with it which just involves shutting down for a few days – I can’t speak to people, I can’t find the energy to cook much, I just read or watch tv or listen to music and within about 3 or 4 days I can almost cope with being around people again.
Another way I’ve found to deal with it is to be ridiculously open with people about things, I’m practically an open book, which I suppose is helpful if you are writing a blog that has been read by a few thousand people (ta for that by the way.)
I didn’t used to be very open, I used to keep everything in. When I was younger I fell for someone and I didn’t feel I could tell anyone about it. My first boyfriend (not really the person I was in love with) was not a very nice person, I broke up with him after he abused me, he then stalked me and used to come into school to watch me. I didn’t tell anyone about the abuse at the time but after he did something similar with his next girlfriend I felt so guilty that I’d not spoken up. She was brave enough to go to the police, so I gave a statement too. He was due to go on trial during my first year of university and I think that, coupled with my parents and my nan dying, was a big reason for my first bought of depression. That was when I saw the woman with the smelly dog… It wasn’t my fault of course, what happened to the other girl, and she was greatful for the support when so many others had turned against her, but I still couldn’t help but feel like I could have stopped it by speaking up.
I didn’t tell my family until recently that I’ve been in love with my friend since I was 15 because that’s not the sort of thing I do. Or did. I didn’t talk about my feelings, but perhaps in a way Dad’s death has made me realise I should be as open with them as I am with friends and sometimes complete strangers.
I don’t want to get depressed every so often, but it’s a fact that I do and that I shouldn’t hide it from people because they could be able to help, even if it’s popping by to check that I’m ok or to bring up a biscuit. People don’t like talking about mental health problems, but one in four people suffer from them at some stage or another. I’m not writing this to be all ‘woe is me’ but just because I’ve had four chords going around in my head for about an hour now and it’s easy to get stuck in that rut.
Quite a few of my friends have emailed me recently to talk about their problems, I’ve not responded to all of them yet (I will I promise) because what I’ll answer with should matter and should require some time to draft. I’m glad that they feel they can talk to me, although I’m not sure I have any answers for them. But the important thing is that they are talking to someone, they’ve taken that leap to let someone in and talk about what matters to them at this point in time. They’ve made a change to hopefully bring something positive about.
The last few weeks since getting back from Kenya I’ve been a bit of a hermit, I’ve either thrown myself into work (mostly laminating and colouring in) or I’ve avoided it almost fully. In a week it is half term and I will be going somewhere new – Zanzibar – and I will make sure that I am not just sitting around and avoiding things, I will take some chances and work out what changes I can make to start to make myself better again. Yes, I’m probably still grieving, but I can’t wallow forever, that’s just a waste.
It’s easy to fall into a pattern of not speaking to people, to not going out and doing things, to pass on every opportunity because you’re not feeling fully up to it. It can be easy to avoid seeing people because they are too far away. It can be easy to let season follow season without making a change because it’s comfortable being with that person or being in that job or that town or country and because taking chances is scary. Four chords are safe, four chords are comfortable, you know what’s coming next even if the melody changes a little over the top of them.
Sometimes it’s good to take a chance, sometimes it’s good to make a change, sometimes it’s good to drop in on someone even if it’s out of your way to go to see them.