25.12.18

Please scroll past this post if reading about unhappy things is going to ruin your day. I may not enjoy Christmas, but I don’t wish to put a damper on anyone else’s joy.

With that out of the way; today is Christmas, and it’s 5:02 in the morning. I’m awake, again, because of an unfortunate and cruel twist of fate that brought me into this life as a woman. So of course, because it’s Christmas and because I’m awake, 25/12/18 is off to a bad start. And this time, it’s not just because I’m a common garden variety Grinch.

Christmas has long since become my least favourite time of the year, but this year I’m feeling especially melancholic. It’s a stupid mental health issue, you see. My brain decides that, on a day when so many people are feeling joy and happiness and closeness, it is going to screw around with some chemistry and make me sad. My brain and I are at odds with each other a lot, and today especially, she’s being a rather heinous bitch.

I feel very alone. I have family events to attend today, but right now the very thought of going anywhere or doing anything, exhausts me. I feel like I need to cry but it’s as though the ability to do so has dried up. Isn’t that just the worst thing, when you need to cry but you can’t?

I realise this is a miserable thing to say on a day like this, but I wish it was tomorrow. I don’t know how I’m going to make it through the rest of the day.

Advertisements

Behind Closed Doors

I almost started this post with “the problem with anxiety and depression is…” but the truth is, there isn’t just one problem. There’s about five billion. So, let’s begin again.

When an outgoing and gregarious friend unexpectedly tells you that they’ve been to see someone about anxiety and depression, it kind of knocks you for six. It’s easy, you see, to look at someone’s outward personality and assume everything is ok. It’s easier still, to not even consider the possibility that they may not be ok, because they’re not the kind of person you readily associate with the black cloud of mental illness.

Anxiety and depression can affect anyone. In fact, statistics show show that 1 in 4 Australians will experience anxiety, whilst 1 in 6 will experience depression at some point in their lives. That’s a fucking lot of people. And, unlike a physical ailment that can be fixed with a bandaid, mental illness is not so easily remedied. It’s all consuming and bleak and confronting, and there’s no easy fix.

I’m a ‘suffer in silence’ kind of person in most aspects of my life, so I can understand why it’s easier to pretend things are ok than to tell people that you’re having a difficult time. Why it’s easier to lock the bad things behind a door and pretend it doesn’t exist than talk about it, or face the hard reality of it. And that’s why it’s never a good idea to simply assume that someone is ok.

Ask. Check in. Be there to lend a shoulder, or an ear, or to just sit in silence. Because you never know what’s going on behind closed doors.

Split (2016)

Kevin has 23 distinct personalities. The 24th is about to be unleashed…

Image result for split film poster

I’ve never really been the biggest fan of M. Night Shyamalan. I’ve seen enough of his films to know that I can expect very little substance to come from his direction. But when I saw the trailer for Split, I have to admit that I was intrigued. So the other night, I decided to give one of my least favourite directors one more shot.

As the tagline reads, Kevin is a man suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder, who has 23 different, distinct personalities. The basic premise of this film is that one of his personalities, Dennis, kidnaps three young girls. They wake in a room, drugged and groggy, in a scene vaguely reminiscent of 10 Cloverfield Lane, and in the following scenes, the audience can be forgiven for assuming the kidnapped teens are there for the sexual gratification of their captor. But Dennis’ motive is altogether different, and here the film hints for the first time at the pending arrival of a 24th personality, chillingly referred to as “The Beast”.

This film had the potential to be a real disaster. And according to quite a few reviews I’ve read since watching the film, it was. Shyamalan has caused something of an internet uproar with his portrayal of an already disputable, though legitimate and recognised mental illness. Along with other films such as Secret Window, and even Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, Split‘s portrayal of Kevin’s other personalities (or at least the ones we see) is, for the most part, largely negative. This had led certain reviewers to boycott the film, citing that it only adds to the stigma surrounding mental illness, and gives D.I.D a bad name.

Despite the backlash, which falls mostly on Shyamalan himself, one has to give credit to the actors. Anya Taylor-Joy, who made her acting debut in the critically acclaimed 2016 film, The Witch, plays Casey; a quiet, intelligent young woman who seems to have a better understanding of her situation than her two classmates. James McAvoy plays Kevin, though most of the screen time is taken up not by Kevin himself but rather by three particular personalities; the sinister Dennis, commanding Patricia, and nine year old Hedwig. Each personality has their own…well, personality, and each plays a vital role in the preparation for the Beast’s arrival.

Aside from the three main personalities we encounter over the course of the film, we meet Barry; a gregarious fashion enthusiast, and very briefly touch on two or three others but aside from that, the other personalities mentioned in the tagline are barely even spoken about. I confess, I was a little disappointed in that regard, expecting to have more focus on them as well. But in hindsight, I think it was perhaps the best course of action, as any further character involvement and development would have clogged up the plot too much, and made everything far more complicated than it needed to be.

As with other films involving a character with D.I.D, Split indicates that the personalities manifested as the result of Kevin’s own childhood trauma. But this movie plays heavily on the underlying notion that ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’, and certainly the 24th personality is meant to indicate that. Casey’s character furthers this notion, as we learn more about her as the film progresses.

I think as a whole, and particularly in comparison to some of Shyamalan’s other cinematic failures, this film didn’t do too badly. As I have come to expect, it had his trademark ode to the bizarre but in this case, I think it seemed to work, at least inasmuch as it furthered the plot enough to reach a conclusion. The main protagonist is clever, cunning where she needs to be, and tougher than she looks, and I think that was definitely a selling point for me with this film. The damsel in distress trope is overused, so I was pleased to see it tossed out the window for this movie.

I think this is a film where it’s best to avoid the reviews until you’ve seen it. There seems to be an equal number of haters as there are fans. But as M. Night Shyamalan films go, it was definitely not shit.

For Once, Not a Poem; an Honest Talk About Depression

Whenever I talk about mental illness, I write about it in the form of a poem or a creative writing piece. I can better express what is going on in my head with something creative than I can when I talk about the facts and the hard truths. But it is a serious issue, and I think it’s time I spoke about it in a serious manner. So I want to talk about depression. No poetry, no creativity, just an honest explanation, as best I can word it.

I was diagnosed with depression when I was eighteen. Prior to that, I had been suffering the effects of my own brain for at least two years, without a proper diagnosis. I never, ever told people I was depressed, even after the official diagnosis was given. If I ever spoke about it, I said I was ‘feeling low’ or ‘going through a bad patch’. Even now, I usually just tell people I’m not in a good headspace. I didn’t want people to pity me or judge me based on preconceived notions they had about depression. It is not something you see modelled on the runway, and you can’t buy it on the sale rack a season late. You don’t catch it like a cold, and it doesn’t go away. It is a debilitating, life affecting mental illness and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. You know, if I had one.

Depression, like any mental illness or impairment, is not an easy thing to understand for those who don’t have it. The truth is, I genuinely struggle to comprehend that there are people in the world who have never had depression, because I can’t imagine what it must be like to never be a victim of your own mind. That is how it feels to me most of the time, if I were to be honest. Because it is not a physical ailment, like a burn or a bruise or a broken bone, it is difficult for other people to see the way it affects the sufferer. You can’t just slap a bandaid on it and as a result, a lot of people say that it is not a real thing, or that we’re just overreacting. But the thing about mental and emotional damage is that, whilst being invisible to the eye, it is not as easily healed as a visible injury. And it can be much more incapacitating.

It is different for every person, at least as far as I can tell. I can’t speak for everyone, only myself. Though there are times when I cry for no reason at all, depression is not necessarily a sadness. For me, it is a kind of numbness, and a lack of interest in living. I don’t get excited or angry or happy or even sad. It is as though my entire range of emotions has been surgically removed and what I am left with is a feeling of emptiness, and nothing. And that in itself is strange. To be alive and know what those feelings and emotions are, but not be able to feel any of them. I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning, and all I want to do when I get home is to get straight back in. I lose my appetite, my sex drive, my motivation and my energy. The very notion of socialising is unappealing, because it becomes too exhausting to go to work or out with friends and pretend that I am alright. More often than not, I space out and don’t take in a single thing being said. My sleep, which is erratic and limited at the best of times, becomes virtually non-existent and my body and my mind are in a constant state of fatigue. The world around me seems muffled and muted. I can hear and see everything going on around me but I take none of it in. The days begin to blur into one and I can’t manage to make my brain and my mouth connect. I distance myself from people because it is easier than having to be around others. And yes, there are times when all I want is to never have to wake up again. I don’t want to kill myself. But sometimes I think it would be easier if a truck crushed me and my tiny car on the way to work. I am not being melodramatic. This is what it is like for me.

Depression is hard to understand, even harder to explain. I have tried my best here and have barely even scratched the surface. The brain is a complex organ, and I don’t think we will ever understand it fully. Perhaps one day someone will discover a miraculous cure for this illness and no one will ever have to deal with the things I (and others) deal with. But until then, I just have to battle my brain, and make sure that I get up every day.

If you think you may be suffering from depression, see someone about it. Don’t trust that the drugs they prescribe are going to make you better, but don’t discount the possibility that they might help. Don’t try to be your own doctor; see a professional before you diagnose yourself. Most importantly, remember that there are always people you can talk to. And if you don’t want to talk, that’s ok too.

Broken Brain.

I have so many thoughts in my head but I’m unable to collect them coherently. There are things I want to say, things I want to scream at the top of my lungs actually, but I don’t have the appropriate words. It is a frustrating thing for me to have no words. My words are my way of venting and without them, I’m kind of lost.

I don’t know to feel about things lately. I know the signs, can predict them before they happen, and now they’re here. For now, the unhappiness. Soon, the numbness. It never goes away, not really. Just waxes and wanes. I hate this stupid brain.

It is not an easy thing to understand. Most of the time I don’t even understand it myself. It doesn’t make sense to cry for no reason. It doesn’t make sense to want to stay in bed and never leave. It doesn’t make sense to feel nothing. I’m a living, breathing person, how can I feel nothing?

I envy the happy people. I want to be the happy people. I need to remind myself that I will be happy again. I need to remind myself that there are good things in my life. I need to remind myself to feel.

Don’t be offended if I seem distant or cold. Don’t ask me if I’m ok. Don’t tell me to be happy. Just accept that my brain is broken and let me fix myself. It might take a while but I’ll get better. I always do.

image

Victims

All you want to do is stay in bed for the rest of your life because the thought of moving from that warm cocoon to face the world just makes you want to cry.

Your friends can’t help you because you’re pretty certain they don’t even like you that much anymore. Which is ok really, because you don’t much like them anymore either. But then you start to think about that and you get to feeling lonely and that just makes you want to cry.

And then that moment comes, when you start thinking that you’re no good at anything. And it’s not self pity, this train of thought, it’s just realisation. And you wonder why you bother trying at anything at all because you know you’re going to fail, and that just makes you want to cry.

And it is all of these things, and none of them that make you feel small and insignificant and so incredibly sad. You don’t really know why you feel this crushing, debilitating agony but that doesn’t stop you from feeling it. You can’t explain because there is no one reason for your sadness, and everything else that you’re upset about is just the result of your broken mind and it’s messed up thought processes.

Unless you’ve been there, in that darkest of places within your own head, then I guess this doesn’t much make sense to you. I’m not trying to say that you cannot sympathise but just that you cannot truly understand. It is not a thing that can just be ‘fixed’. It is not something that goes away. It is not something you can just get over. It is inherently part of you and you can no more cut it out than you could your own heart.

Depression. Anxiety. Self harm. It doesn’t matter what form our pain comes in. It doesn’t matter whether you take up a knife to carve future scars in your skin or whether your own brain is the knife, and the scars it leaves are invisible to the eye. In the end, we are all just victims of ourselves.