‘A Year in Melancholia’

‘One Man in Leicester. One Life with Depression. One Year of that Life’

I am delighted to announce that my new book is available to buy on Amazon, via United PC, the publisher, and other online sources.

“For every new medication, for every developing therapy there needs to be a concomitant bedrock of true consciousness. We still have a lot to learn. Stigma and discrimination, still rife in many respects, is every bit as debilitating and harmful as the illness to which it relates.” (16th February 2016)

‘A Year in Melancholia’ is my journey through one year of living with depression and OCD. Of coping (and occasionally not) with mental illness. As a narrative, it is often savage and brutal, sometimes heartrending and passionate, occasionally light and humorous, but always honest and authentic. Beginning on 1st January and ending on 31st December 2016, ‘A Year in Melancholia’ is a no holds barred account of what I have to deal with and how – and crucially, whether – I do so.

As personal, lived experience, it perhaps goes where more academic and learned texts cannot.

“When all is said and done, people do appreciate a personal perspective and to those who also have an intense relationship with mental illness, to hear it talked about, described and articulated by someone like themselves, can serve as an uplifting boost to morale. It means that you’re not alone. That what you go through is not unique. That you can share aspects of experience that you may otherwise be reluctant to divulge. That there is no such thing as a no-go area.” (2nd August)

It is inquisitive.

“Was I born depressed? At least in the sense that there was already something biologically malfunctioning in my brain. Or did depression descend gradually? If so, how and why did this happen? And when? (18th July)

It can be punishing.

“The pain and sense of loss and desolation is truly agonising. It numbs your whole being, but at the same time pierces your flesh and hammers at your soul. Every waking moment drags with a sense of protracted struggle, one that is both desperate and soul-destroying. I just want the next moment to come quickly and then the next, and so it goes on. Hour after interminable hour. Day after endless day.” (14th March)

It is often raw.

“The desire to walk just a few yards to oblivion began to sweep over me. It was such a simple act. The only thing to think about was timing. To move my legs to coincide with the arrival of a train. To this day I don’t know how I didn’t do it. I saw the train coming. It was on time. The moment had come. But something stopped me and when that second, that window of opportunity, came and went, it didn’t return. Whatever it was had shaken me back to reality, back to normality, back to reason, back to life.” (6th February)

It will make you cry.

“Depression can be so cruel at times. It serves, for example, to stifle my speech, my ability to converse, my motivation to connect. I want so much for things to be easy, for the conversation to flow, to be able to chat away, to find out more, to reveal more, to revel in the process of human contact. But I just can’t. It’s too difficult.” (5th May)

It will make you question.

“I wondered – as I once more reflected on what I’ve become mentally – if anyone else around me was aware of what depression had just put myself through? Was my disturbed state evident to anyone else? Did anyone else appreciate or care?” (11th November)

It will inform.

“…what I try to do sometimes is not aim for 100%, but tell myself that 70% is perfectly fine. That there’s nothing wrong with a minor imperfection.” (23rd August)

“I had to lock the door and check it was locked…seven times. I can’t begin to describe the tension within me as I forced myself through this predicament whilst trying not to let on and let others see what I could only believe was pure madness. And this was every day. Every single day.” (14th September)

It will enlighten.

“Mental illness can be seen. Mental distress is apparent. It may evidence itself in diverse ways, but it is not hidden totally.” (15th June)

“The normality of insanity. Now there’s a phrase to think about.” (13th December)

It may aid recovery.

“It’s as if I need my own manual. A guide to my own house. Something to instruct me what to do given any eventuality. Something akin to what you find in a hotel as a guide and information for residents. Actually, when I come to think of it, putting something like that together is not a bad idea. It could help not just me, but anyone faced with similar problems, dilemmas that need resolving, issues that need addressing. Anyone who, like me, cannot think properly when stressed and anxious. Anyone with a mental illness, in fact.” (20th November)

“Everyone I know that has a mental illness acknowledges that interpretation of thoughts – as well as dreams – is an important part of dealing with their condition.” (7th December)

It hopefully soothes as much as it describes.

“Therapy has helped me immensely not necessarily to understand mental illness – although it has contributed to that – but to enable me to take actions that can bring me out of its darkest corner and tightest grip.” (2nd January)

“It is one of the most curious things about my mental state that I am sufficiently lucid and practically-minded to give the kind of advice and guidance that I find difficult to apply to myself.” (19th January)

“But I have to try. And try I will.” (18th August)

‘A Year in Melancholia’ is a real and genuine emotional rollercoaster.

I have been asked why I’ve written something so personally revealing. My answer is always that I wanted not just to record, but to stimulate a greater understanding of mental illness. To help people going through similar journeys. To break down barriers related to ignorance, stigma and discrimination. I don’t always have or provide a definitive answer. But I do try to find at least the roots of an explanation, drawing on my experiences. And the resolutions I do come up with, though you may sometimes find them surprising or perhaps even daunting, they come as a result of an honest dialogue with myself…and with you, the reader.

‘A Year in Melancholia’ is a lengthy as well as a weighty piece of work. However, I recommend you dissect the narrative and read it as I have written it. Day by day. Every entry will make you think. And every thought is worth dwelling on and digesting.

“Depression is powerful and it can be destructive. It has the ability to alienate and to confuse. It leads you to question what you’re doing, where you are, and even if you want to be. Let’s be brutally honest. It can and does, in many cases, kill. But there is another side to it, perhaps one that is only truly realised if you openly and candidly absorb yourself in its complexities. If you choose to get to know it as much as you are able. This is a side that can, at its best, be genuinely life-enriching.” (Afterthoughts)

‘A Year in Melancholia’ is now available on Amazon, via United PC, the publisher and other online sources.