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Day two

November 2, 2016

Oh, my god. I did it! I sat down at the computer yesterday morning (modem disconnected) and wrote the first black dog diary entry. Five minutes before I started, I was in bed with my journal writing something along the lines of “I just can’t face starting today. Maybe tomorrow.” But I got myself out of bed and I did it. The meds must be starting to work, because I’ll tell you (whoever you are, dear reader) that a month ago, once I decided I couldn’t face doing something, that was the end of it.

The fact that I’m actually back at it this morning seems semi-miraculous.

Woke up to a power outage (a not uncommon event on an island), but that’s okay, because I have a generator (recently repaired at a cost of $200 I couldn’t really afford a week after forking out $175 I also couldn’t afford to the plumber to fix the leaking downstairs shower). Went outside, switched the generator on, came back in, made a cappuccino, had a shower, sat down at the computer and started writing this. Then the generator conked out and the lights went out. Gah. There’s probably enough juice in the battery of the computer for this morning’s entry, so that’s okay, but goddammit, I just had the bloody generator repaired.

Try calling the generator repair guy, but, of course, with the power out, his answering machine doesn’t work. Grrr.

Anyway, anyway… Where was I? Oh, yes, the meds must be kicking in.

How did I end up on the meds this time? (That’s right, this isn’t the first time, but more on that anon.)

With apologies that this is going to seem like some long, rambling Billy Connelly joke (sans the punchline), I do need to go back a few years. In September 2011, a few months after Mike died so suddenly, I spotted a notice in the paper for auditions for the annual panto put on by the local community theatre group. My first thought when I saw the notice was: “Oh, the panto. Mike and I used to love going to the panto. I’m not sure I can face going on my own this year.” I turned over the page of the local paper, then I turned back and looked at the ad again, this time thinking: “Or I could go the auditions, maybe get a small role – I used to love doing plays in school, didn’t I? – and get involved in something that would get me out of the house and out of my head.” So I went to the auditions and did indeed get cast in a small role. It was the single smartest thing I did to start recovering from my grief. I met some lovely people and ended up becoming a very active member in the group.

By 2014 I was on the board. That summer, one of the other board members said to me, when I was minding my own business, having a glass of wine with her, “You do realise you’re going to have to direct the panto this year, right?” I looked around, hoping she was talking to someone else, but she wasn’t. I thought about it. Crap. There really was no one else who could do it. Okay, I thought, sighing, how hard can it be. (Oh, ha, ha.)

I knew if I was going to direct the panto (rather than appearing in it as I had for the past three), it wasn’t going to be Puss In Bloody Boots. I started looking for scripts. (Trust me, there are multiple websites in the UK that offer nothing but panto scripts.) There they all were, listed alphabetically: Aladdin, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Puss In Bloody Boots… But wait, what’s this I see at the very bottom of the Spotlight list? Will Shakespeare the Panto by Robin Bailes? Now that sounds interesting! Ordered the script and loved it. Okay. Job one complete. Then there’s sorting out the costumes and the props and the sets and the music and the choreography. Found people to help with all these and we were off to the races. Panto cast, rehearsals underway and the ultimate accolade: the world premiere of Will Shakespeare was probably the best panto ever on the island. Job done.

I made it clear to the board that I’d done my bit. It was going to be someone else’s turn in 2015. The silence was deafening. In the spring I thought, okay, let’s just see what other pantos this guy Robin Bailes has written. There were a couple of old chestnuts, but there was also a script for Robin Hood and his Merry Men and a script for The Return of Robin Hood (aka Babes in the Woods). Read both and thought the latter was funnier, but realised we really couldn’t do that one without doing the former first. Went back to the board and told them they were in luck: Not only was I prepared to commit to directing the 2015 panto, but I was also willing to commit to the 2016 panto, so we could do the two shows back to back. Sighs of relief all round.

Directing a panto is not for the faint hearted. Nor is it a task for someone in fulltime gainful employment, as it is fulltime (ungainful) employment for at least four months of the year. It’s a lot of bloody hard work. But it’s also bloody good fun.

Which brings me back to where I started. (And you thought I’d forgotten.) Despite working with a great script (particularly after I’d tweaked it), great songs and a great cast, most of whom were involved in the last two shows, I was not having fun. Oh, I was going through the motions and getting things done, but that was it. There was no joy, as there had been the past two years, watching it all come together.

It all came to a head on the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend. I was in the bathroom, brushing my teeth, getting ready for bed, when all of a sudden, seemingly out of nowhere, I found myself thinking, “It’s okay. If I kill myself, someone else will step up to direct. The panto will go on.” What the fuck? Where the hell did that come from? No, I hadn’t been thinking of killing myself. I’d been a bit sad, I guess, and feeling lonely and sorry for myself. And, yes, I did occasionally find myself wondering what the point of living for another ten or fifteen or twenty years could possibly be. But killing myself? No, no, no. I hadn’t been thinking that? Or had I? Bloody hell.

It was the Friday night of a long weekend. The doctor’s office wouldn’t be open until Tuesday morning. Three days. I couldn’t let this go unaddressed for three days. Went to bed and when I woke up in the morning rang a friend who’s a nurse. When she asked how I was, I said not too good apparently and told her about my tooth brushing thought. Told her I needed to get back to the doc pronto and get back on the anti-depressants. We talked. She invited me over for their early Thanksgiving dinner that night. I initially declined, then realised getting out of the house (and my head) was exactly what I needed. I went and had a lovely time. Friends are a wonderful thing.

I’d previously been invited to another friend’s house for another Thanksgiving dinner the following evening. After dinner we sat down to watch the second US Presidential debate. (I cannot allow myself to start ranting about the US election.) After the debate I came home and watched the baseball game I’d been taping while I was out. The Jays swept Texas to win the ALDS. Sweeping Texas was, as any Jays fan could tell you, particularly sweet. So, some nice things after the dark thought.

No idea what I did on Thanksgiving Monday, other than I did not go for a walk. Wish I could say I sat on the couch and read a great book, but I know that did not happen. Suspect much of the day was taken up with stupid computer card games. Oh, well.

Rang the doctor’s office as soon as it opened on Tuesday morning. When they asked the nature of the illness, I said (as my nurse friend had instructed me to do and despite feeling ridiculous) that I was a bit worried about self-harm. Hey, presto! There was a one o’clock appointment available that day.

We’ve been here before, my wonderful doctor and I. Back in 2013, when I finally realised I wasn’t going to snap out of whatever the hell was wrong with me. Back then I was an 18 out of 20 (not good) on the depression scale. This time I was a mere 15 out of 20, severe if not chronic. Prescription given, along with advice to try to get some exercise and to avoid isolating myself. (“But, I have panto rehearsals three times a week!” I protested. “I’m getting out.” He smiled and shook his head. Point taken. Despite the lack of salary, directing the panto was my job, not socialising.) And, he said, don’t be afraid – or embarrassed – to tell your friends what you’re going through. They’ll want to help. Hmm.

So that’s where we’re at. Back on the meds for two weeks now and, as I said, I suspect they are indeed kicking in, as they should be at this point.

And now my computer is warning me that the battery is about to run out of juice, so I guess that’s it for today.

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From → Black dog diary

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