I am a great liar. I’m aware that it’s not a particularly endearing character trait, but I try to only whip it out for small scale jobs, like pretending to door-to-door salesmen that I’m only 17 or offering a detailed description of a nightmare train journey to my boss as the reason why I’m late, rather than saying that crying until I was sick was the reason that my schedule got knocked slightly out of whack.
I feel like I really honed my skill, really crafted it into something spectacular, when I was depressed. I told a lot of lies when I was depressed. I would have made a great protagonist in a children’s book. Apart from the whole feeling like I had nothing to live for thing. That probably wouldn’t have been so great for The Kids.
You tell a lot of lies when you’re depressed. You sort of have to in order to try and maintain some pretence of being totally normal and just like any other 22 year old who is having the best time of their life, doing stuff that is totally random and going to club nights called Chirpse.
There’s the biggie, obviously; the “I’m fine” lie, but this is almost always a bit of a lie for most of us anyway, isn’t it? I’m talking about the kind of lies that, if they weren’t being said, would’ve left room for me to tell someone, or at least to suggest, that things weren’t going great in my brain. Some of those lies were as follows-
Also, I’m playing pretty fast and loose with the tenses here. Stick with it.
“Yep, totally up for that. I’ll be there.”
Yeah, I won’t be there. In fact, as I’m saying “I’ll be there”, I’m actually mentally drafting my apologetic, exclamation mark-laden get out text.
It’s nothing personal. I want to be there, desperately; drinking warm, cheap white wine, doing that thing where you flip a beer mat off the side of the table and try to catch it, finding out who went back to a boy’s house and immediately left when she realised that he kept his condoms in a freezer bag, all of that stuff.
However, I also can’t think of anywhere I want to be less. I’m exhausted, despite sleeping or being horizontal whenever I’m not being paid to be sitting upright at work. I have fuck all to say. I’ve literally done nothing for the last two months. I’m not armed with hilarious anecdotes or amazing career news. In fact, if you ask me about my job then I will cry, because I have convinced myself that I’m terrible at it and that my boss is only keeping me there because they can’t find a way to legally fire me. Or, worse, they feel bad for me because I am a loser.
I don’t want to go because I feel so lonely and I feel so lonely because I don’t want go to things like this. Depression is full of fun emotional palindromes like that.
“Sent out loads of CVs. I actually have a phone interview tomorrow.”
I eventually quit my job because I was depressed. It was a terrible job, for terrible people, so I was never going to click my heels as I walked through the door each morning, but combined with what I believed was my innate incapability of doing anything well, it was a fucking nightmare.
I’d told myself that if I could find a way out of my job, then I would be myself again; the job was the problem – a bit like how when you eat something bad you feel gross until you throw up then you feel fine. See also: drinking. I needed to throw up my job.
I eventually retched it all up and for about five days I felt better. I got some sleep, I went shopping at two in the afternoon, I had a cream tea in a garden centre with my grandparents; it was nice. But then people started asking what I was going to do next, “job wise”, and I realised that I didn’t really see much point in finding a career path that I could follow throughout my life, because I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to be around for my life.
I didn’t want to tell anyone that though, so when my mum returned from work the next day, to find me looking suspiciously unwashed, I told her “Yeah, I’ve sent out a few CVs and I’ve actually got a phone interview tomorrow.”
For about 3 months, I had a lot of phone interviews. Turns out, I’m shit at phone interviews.
“Just had a quiet one, really.”
This was usually said in response to a co-worker asking me how my weekend was and was therefore not technically a lie; more a deliberately misleading statement, perhaps?
A ‘quiet weekend’ usually implies things like watching a Four In A Bed marathon whilst sorting out your underwear drawer, going to a Toby Carvery etc. It does not imply that I walked into my room on Friday evening, stripped off and crawled into bed, only to drag myself out again at 9pm on Sunday when I would scurry to the bathroom and attempt to repair what wearing Friday’s makeup for 60 hours had done to my face.
My weekend was my bed. I actually got sore elbows from being in bed so much. I regularly gave myself blinding dehydration headaches because I could not even summon the energy, or self worth, to get myself a glass of water.
I would be very careful not to move too much, in order to trick my flatmate into thinking that I left the flat really early and got back really late because I was out having the Best Time Ever. I carefully timed my bathroom trips so that we didn’t bump into each other in the hallway.
My weekend was so quiet that I became painfully dehydrated.
I eventually reached my quota on lies. I officially ran out when I went to get my contraceptive pill prescription renewed and my GP asked if I was heading back to work after the appointment, a question to which I initially responded to by making the sound that a balloon makes when you scratch it.
So yes, depression made me a liar. It’s also managed, somehow, to make me a bit more honest, I think.
I don’t mean honest in a nice way, necessarily. I mean, if a cashier gives me too much change I still exit the shop quickly and don’t look back. I also don’t mean honest in “I just speak my mind and I don’t give a shit” reality TV contestant way either. I don’t always speak my mind and I do give a shit.
In fact, it’s only really made me honest about depression. Or at least want to be honest about it.
Depression is a lot of different things to a lot of different people. For me, it wasn’t stock photos of women wearing grey marl and looking tearful, whilst wiping their bright eyes and unblemished faces with a really pointy tissue – it left me not too sure of when I last brushed my teeth. It didn’t make everyone feel sorry for me and wrap their arms around me – it made me unlikeable and exhausting and left me with approximately 5% of the friends that I once had.
Depression didn’t knock me down so that I could build myself back up, knowing what’s really important – it knocked me down and left me scrambling around to try and find my edges, before I could even think about my middle.