This site has a new owner
And I'd like to introduce you to him.
Just like Scrivs announced this week that the CSS Vault has been sold, this site too has a new owner and I'd like to introduce him to you. His name is Malarkey. (Ed: What are you rambling on about now?)
OK, I'll get to the point. A few people who know me personally and some commenters here have spotted a difference in me. Generally a little more light-hearted, a touch less obsessive (some would say less
manic). I have spotted a difference in me too. And I'll finally admit to myself and the world at large,
I suffer from manic depression
It's not a recent affliction either, I can now admit to myself that I have felt the effects on-and-off for about the last fifteen or sixteen years. I used to fool myself into thinking that my annual 'black mood periods' were just a symptom of life, as they usually lasted the three months between September and Christmas. But over the last year or two, the moods have been blacker and the effects longer lasting, typically resulting in me spending long periods alone obsessing over one thing or another in an attempt to escape from life going on around me.
When I look back over that long period, if I'm honest I can remember very little. It's as if I was watching the world from behind a sheet of glass, more as a voyeur than a participant. But I refused to accept that there was anything wrong with me.
I'm a bloke after-all, and like most blokes I hate going to the doctor, I don't even take a pill for a headache. The thought of sitting infront of a complete stranger, saying
I don't feel like I'm coping very well. was humiliating. But I pushed myself to go and now I know it was the best decision I have made in a very long time. And my 'happy pills' are my new best friend.
In learning more about the various types of depression, I have also learnt to accept that there is no stigma, nothing to be ashamed of. The brain is just another organ and taking medication for depression is no more shameful than taking an asthma inhaler. I'm in good company too. Many of my idols,
- Peter Sellars
- Spike Milligan
- and Kenneth Williams
all suffered from manic depression, as do many others.
Today, I am a new person. More confident, more focussed, more a part of what is going on around me. Regrets? Yes, I feel like I have lost the last sixteen years. Now it's time to make up for lost time.
Malarkey is back! (And this time, he means business ;) )
I was told I had Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is cutely called the 'winter blues', last year. Doesn't really have a major effect other than sometimes making me a bit lethargic. A walk outside usually fixes it.
Glad you're feeling better. Dom Jolly is also a manic depressive.
Well done for "coming out" :P
I also suffer from depression but I've stopped on the medication and an overdosing on exercise. The pain from that makes me forget the rest .
#3 On January 28, 2005 04:44 AM Sean Fraser said:
I've read your scribes for a year and thought - from your writing style or word usage - that you had brevity days and days tinged with watching too many 1940's Daffy Duck cartoons. All through it, each was a delight unto themselves.
Still - Aren't all Artists a wee bit manic depressive?
What sort of business does Marlarkey mean?
And, I still prefer:
She can really do the brontosaurus; she can scream the heebie jeebie for us
#4 On January 28, 2005 05:08 AM Jeff Adams said:
I have to say that I am shocked by this revelation and I am glad you came out with this publicly. It is neccessary to have support from your peers, friends, and family.
My wife suffers from deppression and recently, for the first time, she told our friends and family about it. This has made a tremendous difference. I see that the healing has begun already. Just be aware that you will still have black days every now and then. Thats okay.
I have just started reading your site within the last 3 months and I love your writing style. The articles are always entertaining and informative. I hope you will continue to write until the end of time.
I occasionally go through black periods but I'm never sure how close I am to actual, factual clinical depression. I just tell myself that I'm a typically over-emotional teenager (well, I'm twenty now so I guess I can't use that excuse).
While no-one can ever say being unhappy or being depressed is _fun_, I can turn it into a bit of a learning experience. I develop ways to cheer myself up and in the end I learn to just appreciate the mountain of good things in my life that I often take for granted.
#6 On January 28, 2005 07:20 AM Rob McMichael said:
Well done for taking the most difficult step, hope it all goes smoothly now.
It may cheer you up to know the CSS zen book has gone gold. That should provide some good reading in the not to distant future :)
I can understand how it might be kind of a blow to receive a diagnosis like that, but the important thing is that now that you know about it, you can do something about it. As you say, there may still be some kind of stigma, but it's probably more in those who are affected than in those around them. It's weird, really. There's no stigma in breaking a leg or being diagnosed with an allergy or arthritis or whatever. So why should it be different with manic depression?
As long as you keep doing what you've been doing, both on this blog and with your company, lots of us will be in a better mood even without the need for 'happy pills.' :)
The realisation that your emotional stability is not always a reflection on what is happening outside you but rather an effect of the tidal nature of your physical body, is empowering in itself. Being able to say, "I feel like the world is a bad place", but knowing that it is only an imbalance in hormones prevents you from spiralling down worse and worse or behaving recklessly when you think nothing can go wrong. I was diagnosed manic depressive many years ago and found out it runs in my family. Running your own business in this state can be interesting to say the least. Theres should as little stigma attached to taking medication for an imbalance in hormones as there is for taking tablets for an imbalance in vitamins. Oh and along the way I found that depression, aspergers, autism and schizophrenia are directly related the human evolutionary success and people with this conditions should given all the respect this engenders. Good luck and I wish you all the success you deserve, you'll remember these times as a turning point in your life.
#9 On January 28, 2005 09:12 AM John Oxton said:
Great post Malarkey and thanks for sharing a little of that cheer when I was down about stuff! ;-)
#10 On January 28, 2005 09:54 AM Robert Wellock said:
Even though I don't believe in depression personally (I mean to say, I have never experienced it myself) I know many people that experience the effects - good luck with feeling more cheery.
#11 On January 28, 2005 10:42 AM kleida said:
My partner suffers from depression, I can't recommend Lewis Wolpert's book more highly.
Also, remember that girl in accounts and give her a big hug, depression is often as hard for your partner as it is for you.
#12 On January 28, 2005 11:29 AM Grant Broome said:
You're a big man Andy.
This not an easy thing to say out loud.
I was in a bad way a couple of years ago, and even my closest friends had no idea. You have my respect.
#13 On January 28, 2005 11:48 AM Jeremy Freeman said:
Good man Andy - nothing to be ashamed of at all. That's life. In fact it's amazing how many creatives / artists are just like you - you all have a passion for art, and always striving for perfection - so not such a bad thing! As long you understand how it can affect you, your work will be even more enjoyable!
#14 On January 28, 2005 02:01 PM Karl Swedberg said:
Welcome to a very large club. Bipolar disorder and depression, as I'm sure you've realized, don't discriminate based on age, gender, race, religiion, sexual orientation—even intelligence or creativity. The stigma of such disorders is a terrible shame. Thanks for doing your part to chip away at it. (I'd write more, but I'm in one of those dark places at the moment.)
#15 On January 28, 2005 02:54 PM Adam Michela said:
I think you're starting a trend :)
I predict massive numbers of pissed off web designers getting happy by finding their inner depressiveness.
I can relate to...
"over the last year or two, the moods have been blacker and the effects longer lasting, typically resulting in me spending long periods alone obsessing over one thing or another in an attempt to escape from life going on around me"
I can relate all too well to that.
doh! ... add another one to the bandwagon :)
Hey, I'm a little bipolar myself!
Intensively creative periods punctuated by utter apathy used to be a familiar feature of my life. And don't even get me started about the insomnia...
I totally identify with your observation about "... watching the world from behind a sheet of glass..."
I can recall so very little of my life between the ages of 21 - 32, which is a deep regret of mine.
Thank God for my wife, she encouraged me to seek medical help. Like you I would rather stick my happy tackle in a food blender than tell someone how I "feel" .
I'm so glad you are feeling positive and stable. It is a good feeling.
Good luck man.
@ Everyone: Thanks guys, I appreciate all the kind words.
This was more comforting to read than I personally dare admit. Thanks Andy. Looks like it was a very cathartic piece for you to write. I've forwarded a link to this article to three others who will greatly understand where you're coming from.
It's strangely comforting to know that people I hold in high-regard for their creative talents, and for generally being nice people, are only human too.
Sincerely, all the best with the new, improved, super-deluxe Malarkey.
Wow. That was a great piece of writing. I'm glad to hear you did something about your depression, and that you are doing so well now. Good luck!
Congrats on "coming out", as I like to call it.
I have been on meds for severe depression for 5 years-- the best thing I ever did was tell everyone I could. Both for helping dispel the stigma in my small little way, and for realizing that it's much easier to deal with when you can talk about it with others.
I'll just second what Karl said: "Welcome to a very big club"
I've been a sufferer of clinical depression throughout my adult life. It's a royal pain in the arse. I think that because it is so tied up with your own sense of self-esteem it can be incredibly hard to actually seek help. Manic depression is altogether more severe, and so I'm very glad for your sake that you have seen a doctor and are now taking the happy pills.
Now stop whingeing and get back to work.
#23 On January 28, 2005 07:29 PM Graham Bancroft said:
I think everyone knows someone who suffers Fair play to you for talking about it, that's half the battle.
A possitive thing though, you won't hear from any sales people who happen to read this post.
All the best to you and Godspeed.
#24 On January 28, 2005 10:23 PM patrick h. lauke said:
@malarkey "especially after seeing who is on the thank-you list... :)"
awww...you spotted me? :-p
#25 On January 29, 2005 02:18 AM timfm said:
Bravo Andy -- It takes a lot of courage to do what you did, and I commend you for it. I never would have guessed your condition from reading what I think is the BEST blog on the net. I've learned and laughed more here than any other domain. Thanks for sharing.
Remember, you control your thoughts. Stay in the moment, and when negatives bubble up, "catch them," and kick them out, then fill that void with something good.
You may want to have a look at Ayurveda -- India's 5,000 year old medical system -- for insights into how to become more balanced. I'd imagine that there's no shortage of qualified practicioners in the UK given the large Indian population.
@ Colly: We can compare symptoms on the 12th at the pre-SXSW meet up in London... I bet mine is bigger than yours! :P
super-deluxe Malarkey?. It's when I start wearing a cape and underpants over my trousers that you have to worry!
@ Max: Thanks, what would also cheer me up are those copies of Golden Boy you promised me! Still waiting... ;)
@ Andrea: That was really sweet of you, thank-you. And thanks for the link too.
@ WillB: I never stop working you cheeky bugger. ;)
@ Patrick: You in the book too? Sorry, I missed that! ;)
@ Tim: I'm going to take a closer look at Ayurveda.
Here are a couple of links I found if they are useful to anyone.
I would also like to say how very pleased I am for all the kind messages of support, it's good to know that other people understand.
#27 On January 29, 2005 06:36 PM Gordon said:
Wow...I have to say I admire you for being upfront and honest. I have suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder ( didn't realize it) and found I suffered many mood swings and such. I can really relate to your post. I started on Celexa and within a week saw a HUGE improvment. No more dark, "impending doom" feelings all the time. Now I can handle the days and such.
Whats weird is my business does very well and so many people assume all is well, that i am rich and content. Money helps but doesn't fix depression. The first step that made me feel good was opening up and admitting it. No more secrets.
Great to see your post. APPRECIATE your openness and honesty.
Greetings from British Columbia, Canada.
#29 On January 30, 2005 08:42 AM Mike Pepper said:
In 1999 I went along to the quack after losing my business, wife, children ... the lot. In short, I lost my life and remained in an almost vegetative state for months. I lost many jobs when contracting as I was perpetually falling asleep at my desk.
I asked for counselling but was instead convinced to take 'The latest treatment' for depression: Serotax [Seroxat], a new wonder drug. I explained I really didn't want pills but was advised it was the better course of action. I folded and picked up 2 months supply.
After taking those little white pills for a week I found myself in the foetal position losing my mind. I rang the surgery numerous times explaining I felt I was going nuts. 'Keep taking them ...' was all I got.
Another week passed before I binned what remained.
It took me months to recover from the mental and severe physiological effects of those pills.
In retrospect it was a case of take these and piss off. The quick solution for an overworked surgery. The counselling I requested never materialised, just excuses. But I fought back from the brink and learned to believe in myself again and today ... who knows? Perhaps it was for the best. I don't take crap, do what I want and am far more focused than I've ever been. And I spend much time counselling others who simply need to find perspective, take a breath and refocus.
Battle on, Andy, it does get better. I know. I've been there.
i've had moderate long term depression for a number of years now, and as a bloke, we do know how weird it feels to go to the doc. well done on braving it out and getting done what's needed. i was given this site by a friend today, and am very glad he sent it. thanks
#31 On January 31, 2005 10:51 AM Debbie Morris said:
Well done for visiting the Doctor and getting diagnosed! I was admitted to hospital when I was 8 years old suffering from stress but my depression was not diagnosed until I was 35 and had a breakdown. The pills helped me cope but didn't deal with the cause and coming off them was a nightmare. I now work less, I dont take anti-depressants and I have learnt the most important lesson - to say 'no'! My workmates have made this last 2 month bout of depression easier to deal with because I told them I was heading down and they have put up with my miserable face without glib comments like'pull yourself together' and 'smile, it might never happen'. I have accepted that there will be 'episodes' for the rest of my life but the right food, exercise and remembering that some of the best people suffer, eases the blackness. Oh, and the manic phase before the fall can be VERY productive!
#32 On January 31, 2005 04:40 PM KLewis said:
Can I just add a 'me too'! I went throught the diagnosis a few years ago. I tried various happy pills and the madly psychotic pills too (I still clearly remember how terrifying they were). In the end it was exercise that sorted it me. Malarkey, get yourself on a bike up in those Welsh mountains!
All the best