Understanding Depression: A Girl Like Me

A Girl Like Me

I don’t like her. I probably did once upon a time but I don’t remember that. I look at photos of her and I think “I don’t like you Me”. After many years I can finally admit that.

The problem is it’s not straightforward to not like Me. It’s conflicting. Other people like this girl Me. They tell me that I should like Me. They say that she’s things like: beautiful, clever, funny, intelligent and give her genuinely good attributes and reasons why I should like her. I think I would like her if she were anyone else, but she is Me.

When I see Me I see someone ugly, stupid, fat, a failure. I think Me is a loser.  Although I don’t like Thoughts, I like them more than Me. Me is a fraud.  Me smiles when she is sad. Me spends money she doesn’t have. Thoughts are honest. They call a spade a spade. They scream ‘I am sad’ they say ‘you have no money You’. And I sympathise with Thoughts because they are never heard. Even though that’s all they live for: To be heard. To be made real. To get attention. To be liked. Everyone likes Me even though she is a fraud.  That is not fair.

I want to like Me. It would make life easier. Sometimes, if I don’t look at her in the mirror I like her.  Sometimes if I shut Thoughts up I like her. But that’s what everyone forgets: you can’t shut Thoughts up. It is their compensation for being ignored. Swings and Roundabouts. Justice.

Thoughts turn nasty when they don’t get their way. Well Negative Thoughts do. They beat Positive Thoughts up. Positive Thoughts don’t stand a chance when Negative Thoughts decide it’s their turn to play with your mind.  Neither does Happiness. Negative Thoughts don’t have time for Happiness. ‘Fuck off Happiness’ they say.

Negative Thoughts don’t like Happiness because everyone wants Happiness and nobody wants Negative Thoughts. And Negative Thoughts don’t want anyone to be happy if they’re not happy.

Negative Thoughts haven’t heard of ‘cutting off your nose to spite your face’ so they say things like “You should die”, “Everyone’s better off without you,” “Kill yourself”, even though if you die the Negative Thoughts die too. But that is one of the main selling points.

Even though nobody else can hear them, they are loud. Loud and strong.  This is their defence against not being heard: because when they are so loud, you can’t even hear anyone else.  That is why you nod in agreement when people say things like: “You have everything to live for” because you can’t really hear them. You just hear Negative Thoughts saying “They don’t understand you”, “You’re better off with me”, “I understand you”.

But you shouldn’t listen to Negative Thoughts because Negative thoughts have a hidden agenda. They don’t want anyone to like Me because Me only wants Happiness. “If I can’t have you nobody else will” says Negative Thoughts.

Why We Chase Love.

So yesterday I was questioning / pondering (as always) why people chase love even though they have the love of friends and family. Why is this love not enough?

After many poignant and intelligent theories, I summarised my findings succinctly as below:

Your family love you even if you’re a ****
Your friends love that you’re not always a ****
A partner loves you because you’re a ****

Who doesn’t want that kind of love?

tash speech

So this speech is not meant to make you cry cos as you know, I am as hard as nails and don’t like when you cry so don’t look at me ok? Just hear it!

But I want to start by saying that it is strange for me to sit looking out at a sea of people that I love and care so much about and gush about one person.  People that would never know how much they mean to me because my hardened heart will never let me say and because I do not know whether I will ever be given a more opportune time to say, I am going to do it now. So to my amazing mother, my precious big sister, my beautiful nieces and nephew and my cousins whom I am so proud of. My dad, my younger siblings who I see far too little of, Andrew Milnes, my aunts and uncle, my wonderful best friends whom I appreciate and thank for everything they’ve done for me and all that you are individually. My brilliant new brother Alexander and of course my precious daughter Eva. I genuinely love you all more than you will ever realise.

But ultimately this speech belongs to just one person and that is my beautiful twin, Natasha Michaela Martin.

I remember when Natasha, Corinne and I were growing up and we used to talk about who would get married first; Tasha would always be bottom of the list.

Literally, I was top (the irony isn’t wasted on me) Corinne would be next, we’d skip about 10 lines, and Tasha’s name would be underneath the bottom line in teeny titchy tiny writing….and even then we weren’t hopeful of marriage for her.

Now anyone that thinks I’m being unfair merely didn’t know her then. The fairest thing to say is that she didn’t always look and act like this.

People often ask what being a twin is like and if I ignore the fact that I am still yet to forgive her for bringing Antony into my life, there are many ways of answering this. In its simplest form it is having someone that you are really really close to but have to make no effort with whatsoever, the conflict this raises between us completely passes over us whilst everyone else is left feeling uncomfortable, irritated and/or embarrassed and whilst they’re still reeling we’re friends again.

It is speaking to her a million times a day and getting her opinion or advice on the most trivial or complex of matters. Sometimes I speak to others because I think, oh ok I have bothered her at least 10 times today and maybe someone else will have an opinion on whether the sky is a slightly lighter shade of blue (or other such interesting matters) and I’m left feeling baffled on how little they get me but it is not that they don’t get me, they just don’t get me in the way that I’ve taken for granted because I’m a twin.

And because we are so close I am sure people wonder whether today feels like I am losing her but I already lost her some time back in 2001 when she moved in with her first boyfriend and I cried and cried and cried but I didn’t know then that I hadn’t lost her, we’d simply had to evolve from sisters into friends. And when I felt excluded as a result of this she strived and continually involved me in all of her subsequent relationships and it is because of her inclusion of me in her life that I can look around the room and know most people here and count a lot of them as my own friends.

But being a twin is not all perfect as invariably feelings get hurt and one of us feels let down by the other because of the ridiculously high expectations of each other that are actually met 9 times out of 10. And I guess that is the single best thing about being a twin. That there is someone that is always striving to get it right for you 100% of the time even though they owe you nothing.

And Natasha, I know that you have always felt responsibility for me as well as guilt that I have not been fortunate in many areas of my life. And so I write this speech, as although I did not give you away officially today, I feel there is nobody better placed than me to give you away with my complete blessing and happiness for you and to say that you do not have to feel the misplaced guilt, responsibility or burden for the luck I’ve had and that it is always ok to be happy.

There is a misconception that Natasha is the stronger one of the two of us, probably founded on the fact that she introduces me to people first and tells anyone that will listen that I am 21 minutes younger. But a little known fact about Tasha is actually how sensitive and easily hurt she is and if it were anyone else marrying Tasha today, I would be warning them to look after her but I do not have to because I know that Alex appreciates who and what he has and that not only does he have her back, he has her heart. And I wouldn’t be able to finish this speech without mentioning Natasha’s husband, Alexander Fingal Martin aka “Alright Mister” who has not only been more than inclusive of me and the reason why I can count his family and friends as my own now too but who has been a great friend to me and more than this the most amazing, supportive and dependable uncle and male role model to Eva.

Alex and Tasha, you are both lucky to have each other and for the laughs, babysitting, support and singing Valerie to you of a Friday night, I am lucky to have you both.

And Natasha although we will no longer share the same surname, it aint no thang but a chicken wang because we will always have everything we’ve been through together.

So here’s to you Natasha Michaela Martin nee Wisdom. My Mode, my D’emploi, my twin, my heart.

Love you long time, always and forever

Natty nat-man Dude

…who loves ya baby?? you’re beautiful!

Poem of Lost Love

I unintentionally wiled away the hours.
I wiled away the hours whilst thinking of you:

The way your hair moved when you leaned down to kiss me;
The creases that lay waiting invisibly in the corners of your mouth and only appeared when you smiled;
The laugh that contradicted your masculinity.
That your rough hands always felt smooth when tracing my skin as we lay naked.

I thought of how happy you had made me.
How happy I had made you.
How happy we had been!

I wiled away the hours for so long that when the hours were over a silent tear jolted me into remembering that I no longer had you. That I had only thoughts of you…that wiled away the hours.

I did not know you but may you forever Rest In Peace

I did not know you but your premature death on Saturday saddened me and touched my life.

I did not know you, this lady that I come to write about: the lady who was tragically lying under a red blanket on Stoke Newington High Street whilst the masses milled around you, taking pictures, others making jokes or those still queueing at the butchers less than 3 feet from where you lay dead. I counted me as the sole person crying.

I do not know which I was more saddened by: your tragic death or the response around you as your shopping and shoe lay in the street, serving as a poignant reminder of how insignificant such things are in life.

The sun still shone, life still went on but society died with you. Humanity, compassion, respect all left this Earth when those that took pictures decided that their egos should be the overriding factor. People wanting to be the first one with the story; the person who knew the most; the person who had the most representative picture; the most detail; little understanding that it wasn’t about them, that the moment belonged to you.

That strangers cared more about you in death than in life is sad. That your image would be on social media sites before your blood was cold and whilst your relatives thought of you as alive is soul destroying.

I wish I could have shielded you from view and got it through to people that you were a human being – a person – and not a spectacle; that your death was not for their entertainment but I couldn’t and I am so terribly sorry that you lost your life and in doing so those around you did not afford you the dignity you deserved.

May you forever rest in peace.

To Whoever Invented Xmas

To whoever invented Xmas,
I know it was an idea loosely based on the idea of Christmas. And I respect your ability to take an idea and run with it…probably to the bank and back again and again but who am I to make assumptions?
I have to admire your ability to turn millions of people into unthinking consumerists prepared to be indebted to banks/credit card companies/payday loan companies/loan sharks for Xmas. People who somehow believe the concept of paying for presents over paying for rent and council tax is a good idea.  There is something you have tapped into in the human psychology that means that people willingly conform and I admire that you made it happen, in a ‘I would never be able to do that’ kind of way of course – in the same way that I admire people that can drive behind a really slow car and not get at all angry or even swear –  it truly blows my mind and so I admire that.
I imagine those Business Managers at the bank gave you a hard time when scrutinising your business plan: “You mean to tell me you think you will get millions of people around the world, to spend billions of pounds in the name of one day of the year?” I imagine them asking. They must have laughed you out of the same banks you are now running to…and back again. How you must enjoy the last laugh.
I like that you try and pretend to bear a resemblance to Christmas through the medium of television adverts; that there is a Xmas spirit and seasonal goodwill but as I do not see Coca-cola buying me anything, I suppose I find the goodwill on these television adverts a little one-sided and self-serving. I think this makes me see this goodwill as not so good.
As an aside about goodwill, I remember the snow fall of January 2009 when people were off work and strangers played together in the streets and picked each other up when they’d fallen over really badly. Yes there was some laughing at them but there was goodwill.  The best thing about it? It was free!
You may wonder why I have written to you, Whoever invented Xmas, I am kind of wondering too. I think it is because I don’t get it.  Remember that film Big with Tom Hanks and he stood up like the boy in the Emperor’s new clothes and he said (ironically, in a toy store boardroom) “I don’t get it” when everyone else was fawning over a new toy.  That’s how i feel. I don’t get it.
I haven’t got it for some time but I’ve gone along with it. I have decided that this will be the last year that I go along with it until I start getting it again.
I will tell you some things I take particular umbrage with and maybe that will help.
I asked my sister what she wanted for Xmas (because nobody seems to know what to get anyone anymore), she told me and I will buy it for her. I will wrap it up and I will give it to her.
My sister asked me what i wanted, I told her and she will buy it for me, wrap it up and give it to me.  We will thank each other and be grateful. But, Whoever invented Xmas, wouldn’t it have been easier to get what i asked her for for myself but not necessarily at Xmas?
The reason I had not bought what I ‘asked for’ previously was that I decided I could not really afford to spend money on something I didn’t really need that much. At xmas that rationale goes out the window which by Xmas logic means I spend money I cannot really afford on something for someone else that they don’t need that much and vice versa. Why? Is that what you envisaged was the best use of time and money?
Don’t get me wrong, I love presents. I love giving good gifts (as opposed to pointless ones that people have told me to buy them when pushed because it was not something they had really wanted) and I love getting something I haven’t expected or something I have really really wanted. When someone gets it right, my heart and spirited is lifted by the idea that someone has put enough thought, effort and listening in to me to know what I would like. But that happens like once in a lifetime if you’re lucky – at 10 years old. Maybe it is that 10 year olds are easier to please (well they were in the 80s). Every year after that is spent perfecting the right facial expression and tone of voice that hides the disappointment/anger/irritation at the present you have just opened wondering why nobody puts in enough thought/effort/listening into what you really like.
It’s not like there is somebody whose job it is to know this. Someone who knows what you want, whether you’ve been naughty or nice. Oh there is?? Santa Claus you say? Wow, you’ve covered all bases.
Now I like Santa as much as the next parent – which is nowhere as much as the kids. My biggest problem with him is that he will have taken credit for what I have had to endure since September – my daughter at every advert break asking me “Can I have that for Christmas?” I only hope that her memory is as bad as i have given her credit for because she will be severely disappointed at the small haul she will receive and not the hundreds of presents I have told her she can have because I cannot be bothered to experiment with saying ‘no’. But no matter how big or small her haul is, Santa will take but all the credit.
Do you think that my expectation of Xmas is too high; that I shouldn’t expect life to carry on as normal or i am what you have others call people that do not like the concept: Scrooge or Grinch or bah humbug
You see, I decided some time ago that I would make it my life’s sub-text to avoid anything that causes stress or makes life that little bit more difficult. For the most part i did quite well. Then i got a kitten and i realised i couldn’t win ‘em all.
If we take my kitten out of the equation (or just take my kitten…please) I do quite well. However, every so often Xmas comes around and really tests my life’s sub-text and so this is why I am writing to you, because xmas is everything I strive to avoid the rest of the year and I question why we all do it.
But as free-thinking person, I realise that it’s not you, it’s me. I went along with it for far too long and it has to stop!
Maybe I just thought you should know that.