on losing my mind, or: daisy, daisy, give me your answer do…

August 30, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Posted in musings, not bloody music | 7 Comments

Being depressed (lower case ‘d’ as the term is commonly understood) is only one symptom of having Depression (upper case ‘D’ is the term is meant clinically).  Yes, sometimes I feel that my past is nothing but a catalogue of failure and humiliation, that the present is meaningless and the future hopeless, but, amazingly, that isn’t the worst of it.

These feelings are the product of the major effect of having Depression.  I have described this during my many recent healthcare appointments as losing the ability to process the world around me.  The subroutines that I would usually carry out unconsciously first can only be enacted by conscious effort of will, then are unplugged entirely by a mind-dwelling homunculus – much as Dave Bowman disconnects HAL bit-by-bit towards the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey.  I know that analogy casts my ‘normal’ state of mind as an insane, murderous computer but we’ll gloss over that for now…

I remember very clearly the first time this happened, shortly before I was diagnosed and medicated for the first time, following my divorce in 1997.  I was walking past Woodhouse Moor on Headingley Lane, here in sunny Leeds, when I started to forget the names of the things around me, then it became difficult to judge distances, then even to differentiate between things.  This attack was very sudden: my mind was going and, as this was the first time it had happened, it was profoundly terrifying.  I remember what I said: “oh, this is intolerable!” which sounds hilariously prissy now, like Niles Crane complaining about poor restaurant service, but it was a literal description of my situation.  I was studying for a PhD in the philosophy of language at the time and suddenly I needed help to cross the road because I had no access to the concept of ‘car’.

The other main symptom of this effect is the setting up of a variable but harsh limit on my activities, both mental and physical.  If I try and climb the ladder by thinking to some purpose, exercising or, god forbid, interacting socially with the outside world I will bang up against the glass ceiling installed by my Depression quick smart.  The punishment for trying to break through this is usually a ramping up of the feelings associated with ‘small d’ depression and an overwhelming bone-weary tiredness.  Unfortunately, the height of the glass ceiling varies up and down from day to day, hour to hour and the only way of knowing where I am is to test it.  A lot of the time I’d rather not.  To function at all whilst I experience the frightening, debilitating feeling of having an unravelled mind is exhausting.  I will, for example, be retiring to bed after pressing the ‘publish’ button on this post.

All that said, I can hum an optimistic note.  I have nothing but praise for the medical help I am getting.  Five, count ‘em: five, healthcare professionals are on my case: GP, Counsellor, Occupational Health Physician, Consultant Psychiatrist and Community Mental Health Nurse – and all for free.  God bless the public sector.  There are manila folders with my name written on them all over Leeds.  I am gritting my teeth nearly two weeks into a medication swap and crossing my fingers that enduring the side effects will be worth it once the anti-depressant effect of the new drug kicks in.

I don’t lack for love either.  My wife Anne, my family and friends give me reason to carry on.  I’ll say no more for fear of blubbing into the laptop.  My continued apologies if I owe you some form of communication, dear reader.  I felt compelled to get this post down ‘on paper’ and will get around to email replies, reviews and so on when I feel like typing some more.

Fond regards from your host at RFM.

P.S. <shameless guilt trip>Leave a comment or point someone else at this blog if you’d like to cheer me up as a spike on the stats graph is always a morale booster.</shameless guilt trip>


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  1. Hey Rob, I started to subscribe to this blog some months ago and found myself checking almost daily whether it had been updated after the last post following your recent episode. I’m glad yr doing well all things considered. As you say you are aware of the patterns that this illness moves in and seem much more prepared than most I would assume. If you didn’t know already you have many distant friends that you have touched over the years, maybe they’ve not been in contact much but yr influence and kindness was, is and always will be appreciated. Take care mate – Andy

    • Cheers Andy – much obliged for your very kind comments, and thanks for subscribing too. This is just the sort of confidence jolt that I was shamelessly fishing for! Anyone reading this (who hasn’t already) should download the mp3s of Andy’s fencing flatworm album which are available elsewhere on this blog – gems all. Rob H x

  2. Hi Rob – can*t think of anything useful to say, though I wish I could. Andy above is spot on. And remember, in the mangled words of George Harrison, or someone, “all things will pass”, or something. Will be visiting rfm.w every day to keep the spike more of a high plateau (hope). – – – – Simon

    • Thanks Simon for your kind thoughts. DDDD remains an inspiration – it isn’t often the word ‘unique’ is applicable in this jaded age but I think your endeavour may well deserve it. Anyone reading this comment should hop over to the sidebar and go visit. Much love to you and Pippa, Rob x

  3. Having just had Neil Campbell’s “The Hearing Force of the Humanverse” pop up on the ipod, I thought I’d come over here and see what else you’d written for our edification – very sorry to hear of your current bout. Although I have nothing useful to say, it seems that you have good people on your side, hopefully you will be back to full strength soon.

    My next musical project is currently gestating – and I have you to thank for that (for getting me interested in music making again). Once I have anything concrete to show, you’ll hear about it 🙂

    Take care,


    • Cheers for taking the time to comment John and I’m delighted that my nudge may have reactivated namke. I’ll look forward to hearing any new stuff. Anyone who hasn’t downloaded John’s lovely ‘available from namke communications’ from elsewhere on this blog should do so immediately. Love, Rob H x

      • Something new… a bit of a departure from the stuff you might be familiar with, but I’ve been evolving 🙂

        Hope you’re well,


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