Juggling life through a bi-polar lens. Sometimes up, sometimes down. Mostly trying to tread water in the middle. Creating a likeness to a normal life. Whatever "normal" is...

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Uncle Shadows

If Depression were a person I would hate him.

Oh true, he does bring gifts. But it's like having a horrible relative who turns up just when you were having a decent day with everyone else. In he walks, uninvited, but his foot is in the door before you can refuse. You force a smile for the sake of everyone else in the room. I hate him for that forced smile.

Then he proffers a little plastic carrier bag in which a few gifts are bulging. "Oh," thinks everyone else, "he can't be that bad. What was she moaning about?"

You take the bag graciously and sneak a peek: a few unusual gifts inside- unwrapped, and a little rough round the edges. You'll investigate them later. For now, you are on autopilot. Must keep the other guests comfortable. Must carry on. Must appear normal.

After a while, the time for the others to leave comes round. They see you are coping with him. In fact, he seems to fit in well.

In the following days and weeks he saps your strength with his demanding presence. Then, after a time, he starts to nip out. A 10 minute walk here, a half hour stroll there. One day he doesn't come back. You can't believe it, keep looking out the window, up and down the road. Eventually it sinks in: he's gone.

You set to work tidying your home, flushing out the last of him. And you come across that bag.... what's in it? A listening ear..... a few creative brain cells.... a packet of sense of humour.... he's a personal relative, remember, so for you the bag might be different.

I loathe him.
He is a robber of time. His domineering presence takes up half of my alloted space, leaving me living a half-life. Add up every visit and he owes me years. YEARS. And all that those years were meant to contain.

Tonight I realised that he had been lodging here for a while again. Ah! That explains the messy house! And why I haven't been able to sleep lately. And why the impetus to do anything has been drained. Ah yes! He is here again. Must have sneaked in when I wasn't on guard.

I am on autopilot again, half alive, living a half life. Sometimes only the anger keeps me going. Anger at the cheek of him, and determination that he doesn't take the other half as well.


BumbleVee said...

Kick the old bastard in the ass Helena!! Out the door and all the way to the curb. Kick his skrawny ass all the way up to his shoulder blades and then kick him again til he's half way around the block!

It's great to be rid of relatives like that one. Sixty pound millstones around the neck they are. You will feel like a million bucks when you unload him. There are so many different types of relatives.... and most of them steal our time and fun in one way or another. Enjoy every single minute when he is not there... don't give up even one minute of the good times to thinking about, or dwelling upon, the rotten days.

Big {{Hug }} ..


Shrinky said...

Oh Helena,

You articulate so wonderfully the pain and unfairness of it all. Batten down the hatches, bonny lass, you know you've ridden this through before - it will end, it always does eventually.. just hold tight there, be good to yourself, and hold on to those around you. x

Chalkhills Collective said...

That old bastard will go, just hang in there. Give him a kick from me.

Thinking of you.


Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Leave him at home and paint the town red. If you don't pay him any attention, he'll get bored and leave. I've been there so I know it is difficult but he tells us lies about ourselves and hides the fact that hope is always round the corner.

SandyCarlson said...

I like the way you turn depression into fuel for your writing and possibly your art. Put the unwelcome house guest to work and watch him turn into something else.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and sharing your thoughts. I enjoyed your words. God bless.

Vi said...

My house is always the absolute pits. But it's not uncle shadow visiting, it's just plain laziness. Hopefully this uncle will leave you alone soon.

Very beautifully put by the way.

John-Michael said...

Uncle Shadows has been my constant companion for (well ... as of 4 weeks from today) 62 years. He was the unknown, undiscovered, alien diving suit of lead that I wore ... and believed that it was "laziness" ... for I was told by family, teachers, friends, and all "You have so much 'Potential' ... and you are lazily wasting it away."

Identifying the Bastard was the greatest day of my life. He is now kept under MY CONTROL ... and the freedom is beautiful!

You spoke of him and your struggles so eloquently and artfully ... I understand ... and appreciate what you do despite Him. Amazing!

suchsimplepleasures said...

i'm so sorry that you have to have an "uncle" that causes you such grief!! i deal with occasional and seasonal icky-ness. but, it isn't as ominous as yours.
i hope he goes and never returns!!
thanks for stopping by my blog...glad i could cause a smile!!

Maggie May said...

I think you have explained that very well! Hope Uncle will leave you alone for a good while, if not for ever.
Thank you for visiting me & I will come back to see you again!

Blue said...

Hi Helena!

I felt every word of this post.
My heart goes out to you as I too live with such an uncle, never thought of Mr Depression in those terms before, but I know him very well and looking around my own world @ present I know he's here right now & has been for months.

Take care

mrsnesbitt said...

Show him the door! Then push his face in it! If you need somebody to give you a hand...you know where I am!

Lynda (Granny K) said...

You write so well Helena.
As a fellow sufferer, I understand what you are saying. I try and enjoy the good times, and ride out the bad under the duvet. Bl///dy weather doesn't help!

ChrisJ said...

Been there, done that...for nearly thirty years.
Depression lies...
Depression goes after sensitive gifted people...
Depression does go away, but likes to lurk around for when we are unwary.
Nearly all great artists, writers and musicians had an "Uncle Depression". It's a price they pay.
Remember it's not really YOU. He only tells you it is really you because he likes to lie to you.

Rachelle said...

Wow, how well I know him.
You summed him up just wonderfully!
What a way with words you have my friend.
Give him the boot, hard as it is- I know.

VP said...

Oh Helena,

You've put it so well - and how well do I know that relative of yours.

Remember that depression is the curse of the strong, not the weak and give your self the only present that will work - Time.


Anonymous said...

Dear Helena,

I resonate with the post so well... You've described Uncle Depression so vividly, everything sounds so familiar, I thought we might be having the same uncle.

Uncle Depression has been laying his hand ( with wicked nails ) on me since childhood. I didn't want to know him, but he got himself noted in my life since I young. I couldn't ignore him, though I have always wanted to. I often thought that taking that plunge will get him out of my sight, I didn't... or I didn't dare to.

And now as I think back, I'm glad that I didn't. For it would not take uncle D away from me, it simply carries me away from him.

I often wonder what rights has he got to intrude into my life, especially I've done nothing wrong or harmful to others. I'm always hiding, always pretending, like you, I'm truly tired to force that smile too. Really.

Uncle D never left me, though I've found my friend, Uncle Hope. Uncle D is furious, and he raids in again and again to drive a wedge between Uncle Hope and myself so much, I misunderstand Uncle Hope sometimes... Anyway, Uncle H tells me that it's not my fault, shit happens. Uncle H taught me : the secretly secretive secret is, the secret of being able to laugh in the face of Uncle D, to dance in the rain, to see through that his truths are lies, and find that bag of blessings that Uncle D is so busily hiding away from me, while making me hold that stinking pouch that he'd never allow me to put down for a minute. Hey, I've got work to do! Uncle D has made half or more of my life void, I had better get up and find that ray of sunshine that belongs to me, fast!

To this day, Uncle D still finds me, but I'm glad that I need no medication in order to face him anymore, those pills suck... He's left me boney, dry and wrinkled with woe anyway, it's all evident on my face and I don't like it, so I decide to smile and to make myself look better. =) And HEY! I realize that it's not a forced smile anymore, I'm smiling for myself! =D For this I have a lot to thank Uncle H for, He didn't give me in to Uncle D.

I guess coping with Bi-Polar must be truly difficult... I think Uncle D must have been really nasty to you. Oh but know that there are so many who truly love and cherish you, and these people, they surely won't give you over to Uncle D. So brave up, Helena, you need not fight him alone, and know that when you give in to Uncle D, you're allowing him to terrorize those you love too, for they hate to see you trampled over. So hugs... I hope that you'll find love your very strength. You're a wonderful person despite much you've got to endure, I think you're fulfilling a very special purpose in a way. It does not mean that you should carry on the way you are, I wish you happiness and hope that we can stand up before Uncle D. And I wish you more... the abundance of life that is MEANT for us, the hope and joy of knowing there's much goodness laid before us. I hope I'm not making you feel worse, really. I like you a lot. Bless you.

Helena said...


thanks for your message, which must have taken an age to type!

I agree, I don't think I deserve it and I've never thought it was my fault. I never think, when bad stuff happens, that it's me, or that I deserve it. That isn't depression, that's self pity!

No, I know I deserve to be happy- let's face it there are enough nasty people, enough bastards in this world that have happiness in their lives, so I'm sure that I deserve some too, as I know I'm a decent person.

As for "laughing in the rain", I can often see the funny side of stuff, and make a way through one way or another, but depression does sap the ability to fight on, even when you still want.

That brings me to part of your comment that I just can't agree with though, I don't "give in to depression". It isn't a case of "giving in". I can't give in to depression any more than a small mammmal "gives in" when a big snake is swallowing it up.

So I don't "allow him to terrorize" those around me either. I have support on the internet but in 3D life, apart from my partner, I have no one. There is no one in my family who cares enough to remember that I have bi-polar. Most of them can't be bothered to remember what it is. None of them make allowances or help. Even at my lowest, the phone still rings with requests from them for me to do stuff for them. It would be nice for it to be the other way round now and then. So if the depression spills over and affects them somehow, you'll forgive me if I say simply, "Tough!" I doubt they even notice.

As for the pills, I don't mind being on anti-depressants, or the anti-psychotics when I need them. Isn't it odd that it's OK for obese people to be on anti-cholesterol pills, but still seen as not ok for depressed people to take anti-depressants? No one tells the overweight person to pull their socks up, try harder and get off the pills. But anti-depressants? That must mean you don't try hard enough.

Sorry, I know you meant well, it was just there were a few things that really got my goat there a bit.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...


Kat Farmer/van Hookens said...

brilliant - I recognise your lodger well, he's so much like my own. You have a wonderful gift here, writing it out can be very cathartic. I wonder if you've come across the Poetry Forum, I pop in and out there often. It's a good place to share poems and pros, I think you'd like it there too. Here's a link -http://www.thepoetryforum.co.uk/ Keep writing, your poems are super :-)