Endings.

I’m writing a new show that will be biographical and feature tales about mental health. Last time I felt the black dog tugging on his leash was after the death of my dad. In truth though that wasn’t depression it was me grieving, which is perfectly natural. I feel it’s important we recognise that and don’t define ourselves via a condition…some of these jokes are in bad taste…good.  

I hold everything the NHS does in the highest regard. Being Scottish I’m quite reliant on them. I hate these twits that say, “Ah but you can’t expect free care forever.” It’s not free. We pay for it. And being an ex smoker of 20 years, with the amount of tax I’ve paid, when my time is up I want a gold plated bed and disgraced Tories washing my feet while I whack their arses with a rolled up copy of the Morning Star.

I’m not claiming NHS care is perfect. I used to have an uncle who had an NHS pacemaker and every time he farted the garage door would open.

My dad went out in an NHS bed. Not so much to do with a Scots lifestyle and more to do with he was chock a full of white asbestos from his job. The funeral was lovely and very well attended but his cremation went on forever.

That was the last time I felt depressed. But the point is it wasn’t depression I was just grieving. We should recognise that, I feel it’s very important we don’t define ourselves via conditions. Being sad is sometimes the right way to be. I really don’t like how we romanticise bad mental health. Poor old Van Gough get’s that, “Ah well, the reason he was so great was because he was so tortured.”
Bullshit. They claim his last words were  “la tristesse durera” meaning  “The pain is eternal” Well that was conveniently poetic of him wasn’t it?…and just not true. You know what my dads last words were? “You maybe better get a doctor. I think there’s something really wrong with me.” Which makes perfect sense. He wasn’t rattling out little bon mots on the nature of being. “Ah the universe is a hurricane and we are nought but farts.” What? What’s he saying? I’m not sure, something about farting like a hurricane. Ah…it’s probably the mixture of hospital cabbage and morphine.

I reckon Van Gough’s last words probably were more along the lines of, “Speak up you fool, I’m missing a lug. What? No I don’t feel like getting it down in a painting! I’m really fucking depressed! Send out for some prostitutes and Absinth, that tends to work”

And if those really were his last words then he was wrong. Pain isn’t eternal…Well unless you’re watching Scotland in a world cup qualifier. In which case it can feel like it. The point is you get better. Of course I can still feel a swelling of emotion when I think of my dad, but it’s a nice feeling. I was just thinking today how he could be full of constant surprises. I remember watching indie band The Smiths on telly one day and he looked up from his paper and said, “What a lovely singer that man is. Perfect diction, you can make out every word.” I was stunned. As far as music went he wasn’t into anything post Sinatra. Now he’s gone from Sinatra to The Smiths and cut out pretty much everything in between. That’s some gap. Or maybe he just liked the idea of “hanging DJs” Then there was the time gay icon Boy George first appeared on Top of the Pops. Again he looks up from his paper, “What’s that.” He enquired? Not who, what. I said, “It’s Boy George. He’s gay.” To which he replied, “Well if gay means happy then that man’s ecstatic.” A joke I feel good enough to go in this show.

Although the death of my dad from cancer was anything but pleasant I didn’t find it horrific either. Life kind of prepares you for such stuff. And even in among all the pain nice things would happen. The day before he went he decided to rally round and find the strength to watch Scotland play England at Rugby. We hadn’t defeated England in an age…that day we won. Nice one God. I always reckoned if he did exist he’s probably Scottish and invented England to punish us for our sins.

Even on the day of his passing quirky stuff was happening. My family is like The Broons. There’s as many of us as them and like The Broons if one heads out to solve a problem then another nine follow behind them. On the day my dad was at the end he had been put into twilight to ease his pain. It was decided a word with the nurse was required and in typical Broons/Scott family tradition nine of them set off down the corridor and I was charged with watching my dad as I had a “nursing background”. I’d worked for nine months in a psychiatric hospital about ten years prior. They hadn’t been out the room more than two minutes and my dad decided, from whatever level of consciousness he was on, It seems to have gone a bit quite I’ll just sneak away now. And he stopped breathing. I got a fright. I then said, “Shit dad they’re all out the room. Could you please just hang on.” And he promptly started breathing again.

So then I lean out his room and call on the family. As I was doing this I did the most ridiculous thing of keeping one hand on his bed, like you do with a shopping trolley in the supermarket…in case someone is looking for exactly the same groceries as you and makes off with your stuff. I’ve no idea where I thought he might be going. I think the chances of him leaping up and announcing there’s maybe some time left for a final bet at the bookies were slim.

PS My dad’s the one on the left in this photo.

 

 

 

We understand why you’re feeling down.

Christmas is nearly upon us, and all the good things that brings will be enjoyed by many over the next few days. But it goes without having to be said this is also a very difficult time for people who are suffering a multitude of problems. The first thing you should realise, if you’re one of those people, is there is nothing wrong with feeling the way you do. So don’t add that to what, I’m sure for some, seems like an endless list. The people around you understand why you feel like this. The number one reason for that is at some point they’ve been in the same place as you.

I remember one Christmas Eve sitting alone at night in my parents living room and just breaking down, thinking my life had reached such a point of desperation that it would never right itself again. That I would never feel like the person I used to be again. That was years ago. Today I’m as happy as one can be. Yes still got problems, still got worries, can still crash on the odd day and start building my own endless list. Thankfully it only happens on rare occasions.

There’s no magic wand we can wave to make these things better overnight, but I do stress here…Things will get better. I’m no councillor. I don’t know therapy but I’ll share here some things that are cost free that have worked for me.

  1. If there’s someone who’s hurt you in your life, who you no longer want to influence your thoughts…write a letter to them. It’s not to be sent to them. Just write a giant FUCK YOU! to that person and to why you’re done with whatever happened and how in the future they ARE NOT going to influence how you approach your own life.
  2. Treat yourself. I know this is not so easy to do when money is an issue, or is the issue that’s causing the stress. You don’t always need money to do this. There will be a multitude of free activities on in the nearest town. Look them up. Go participate in one. Do it for you. If you do have some spare cash buy yourself something frivolous and unnecessary. You’ve earned it.
  3. Make a list of all the good things you’ve done in recent times. You’ll be surprised once you add them up.
  4. Get some air. Try to get to some open country. The space is good. If you’re alone enjoy the solitude. Enjoy not having to have this time committed to anything but you.
  5. And as I say at the start, accept something is wrong but don’t let that define you. Your unwell. There are many effective treatments to address this. Remember you’re not the only one being reflective right now. Someone somewhere is probably being reflective about you.