I’m not a very good depressed person in a sense that I don’t enjoy inspiring quotes. When I was in hospital, the walls were full of them. ‘Happiness is not a destination, it’s a journey’ and the like. If someone likes them, fair play. I do agree with this sentiment though, that kindness is magic.
I try to commit one act of kindness a day. It can be anything from spending some time at a depression forum offering people support or advice, picking up litter or donating some food for the local food bank while doing a big shop.
I spent three months at a mental health ward. That’s quite a long time. I was in a really bad way then, so I can’t remember a lot of it. Still, when I think back to those months the first things that come to my mind are not the frustrations of institution life, like when the nurse on night shift would forget to turn off the light in my room and I’d have to get up and ask them to turn it off again.
What I do remember is one lovely young nurse, who hugged me as I cried hysterically because I was so tired. Another nurse, who took me to the canteen for a coffee so that I could spend some time out of the ward. The heartfelt and genuine sympathy I got from them when my dog died unexpectedly while I was there.
I remember my friend Alex, who would tell me endless hilarious anecdotes about his complicated love life and for a while transport me away from a hospital bed with a plastic sheet. My friend Lily, who came all the way from Manchester just to see me for a few hours. My friends who would light a candle for my dog’s memory because I asked them, and send me a picture of it.
Moments of genuine human kindness.
I believe in balance, that you get what you give. What I want to do now is to give back at least some of the kindness which I received, when I was poorly.
Like that lovely pharmacist, who would order my prescriptions for me when I still wasn’t allowed monthly prescriptions. She would order my meds for me every week. She didn’t have to do that. Once I had convinced the professionals that I wasn’t going to top myself with them, I went back to the pharmacist to thank her for being so kind to me.
She clearly wasn’t used to be thanked. I still remember her smile. I had only recently got out of hospital and was still on meds that didn’t work, so I was much worse than I am now. Even still, her smile made me feel all warm inside. By doing something so little I had made her happy, and that made me happy as far as my fucked up brain chemistry would allow it. I wanted to keep making that happen.
Now I’m hooked. Usually I’m shit at following regimes of any kind. I can’t even keep a cactus alive. But I love thinking about what my kind act of the day is going to be. Helping someone to carry their groceries to their car? Sending a funny text to my friend at work? Buying a drink or something to eat to a homeless person? Spending time at the depression forum? Donating things to charity?
I don’t do any of this to highlight what an amazingly caring person I am. The people who take selfies with the homeless people they’ve bought a coffee to deserve a special place in Hell, if it exists.
I do my ‘nice thing a day’ because I could’ve died, so I want to make a positive impact since I can. This blog is also a part of that. When I was really poorly, I would’ve given anything to hear from someone who has been through the same as me that it can get better.
If me pouring my heart and soul out online with my own name and face is going to make a positive impact on one person, it’ll be totally worth it.
I urge you to try this. It’s really addictive. You get hooked on the reactions you get and knowing that you’ve made someone’s day a little bit better. And the best thing about it is that it keeps on giving. In the best case scenario I make someone so happy that it inspires them to do something nice to someone. And so it continues.
To me it’s gold dust sprinkled over my depressing life.