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Day fifteen

November 15, 2016

Okay, the bad news first: I am not going to be exercising at the gym today.

This morning I had to break off mid-rant to go to the local paper for an interview about the panto. I went dressed for the gym, with my gym bag in the car, fully intending to at least do 25 minutes on the treadmill before coming home. After the interview I did go to the gym, but it was packed with waiting lists for both treadmills. With a half-written rant waiting at home to be completed, I could not face trying to do my programme of various reps on various weight machines. I turned around and walked out, telling myself I would come back later, knowing, even as I said it, that this probably wasn’t going to happen.

Back home I came, the rant completed and posted on the website.

Then I opened my email where what seemed like half a million panto-related messages awaited a reply.

Then I thought, “Is it enough to just post a link to the rant as my Day Fifteen entry?” It did, after all, prove that I’d put in my time writing today. Yet somehow it didn’t seem like enough. So, it’s 3pm and here I am.

It seems that if it comes down to a choice between writing or exercise, writing wins. And, as guilty as I honestly do feel about letting the gym go, that’s just fine. It’s been far too long since writing won.

What’s been going on in the Black Dog Diary world? A follow up appointment yesterday with The Nurse, who seemed very happy to hear about the Diary and even more happy to hear about the gym. Pats on the back for me.

She mentioned a depression group one of the doctors on the island (not mine) had been running successfully. Apparently there is another group starting soon. She asked if I’d like her to put my name down for it and I immediately said yes.

The thing is, even as I was saying yes, part of my brain was thinking, “Oh, my god, this group will all be island residents. What if I know them?  What if they know me? What if they find out I’m inclined towards depression?” What if, indeed?

These are, of course, the wrong questions. I should, without a moment’s hesitation, be able to ask, “So what if they find out I’m inclined towards depression?” What a difference a little word makes. What’s wrong with people knowing? Why should the idea make my gut clench? And yet it does.

Last week a friend (as I later told him) flabbered my gast by telling me he’d been following the Black Dog Diary. Part of me was mortified. How on earth had he found it? I was doing nothing to promote it. Unlike my columns/rants, which are all posted on my Facebook page and Tweeted, I’m not sharing these links with the public. So how did he find it?

Turns out there was a simple explanation. He likes my writing and occasionally goes on my webpage to sit what I’ve come up with recently. Because the Black Dog Diary links are all there for the world to see in the right hand column on the site (I truly wish I knew how to change that), he just clicked on the link and there it was. God.

Again the question should be “So what?”

Many years ago, in my angst-ridden teens, I wrote a lot of angst-ridden poetry. I’ve only kept a handful of them, the ones that really aren’t at all bad. The rest have vanished – I’d say into thin air, but I probably took them all down to the beach and burned them at some point. (Sounds like the sort of melodramatic thing teenaged me would have done.) As I was writing just now, I suddenly remembered one of the ones that wasn’t a keeper. I have absolutely no idea what was in the rest of the poem (and I probably don’t ever want to remember), but there was a refrain, repeated after every verse: “So what so what so fucking what?”

So fucking what if people I know find out – without me telling them – that I suffer from depression? It’s an illness. Would I be mortified if someone found out I had the flu? No, of course I wouldn’t be. So why?

I could answer the question in general terms. Having the flu is fine. It’s a physical illness which anyone can catch. But depression is a mental illness. No one wants to hear about – or admit – that. There’s a stigma. It’s ridiculous, but true.

I could also answer the question personally, as I believe I already have elsewhere. For many years (from my anst-ridden teens on), I have taken great pains to cultivate a fuck you attitude, an attitude which, by its very nature, cannot acknowledge the slightest hint of weakness.

I could go on (and on). No doubt some other day I will, but for today the clock’s ticking. Between this and the rant, I’ve put in more than four hours of writing time today. Holy Fucking Moly. That’s amazing. (Sorry, gym, but this really is way more important.)

My flabbergasting friend told me last week that he thought what I was doing was very brave. Is it? I don’t know. All I know is it’s got to be done.

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