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Comfortably Numb. Thursday November 24, 2016

Today we are publishing the second blog of a series of five by Mary:

In 1979, Pink Floyd Released their concept album The Wall. I was sixteen.

I remember Tommy Vance, the week it was released, devoted the entirety of his Friday Night Rock show to playing the whole of this double album. I listened, under the bedclothes (I was supposed to be asleep by 10pm) as the story of "Pink" unfolded – losing his father to the war, his bullying at school, his over-protective mother, music career; the drink and drugs and divorce and finally his breakdown and subsequent freedom.

The song Comfortably Numb occurs at the end of side three (vinyl, remember), when Pink descends into what appears to be a catatonic state. A doctor is called and he has to be medicated.

At the time I don't think the song made a huge impression on me; I was probably jolted awake by the visceral Run Like Hell on the final side, but it means so much more now.

Emerging from the mania of the last few weeks I enter a new world.

There is no pain, you are receding
A distant ship smoke on the horizon
You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying...
...I have become comfortably numb

Then the doctor, "Just a little pinprick
There'll be no more Aaaaaaaaaah
But you may feel a little sick."

Roger Waters definitely knew what he was talking about when he penned those lyrics.

As my score plummets from the nineties to the twenties, I'm back on the pills and it's almost a relief. I know what I'm doing again. This is familiar territory. I can't feel anything anymore; the world has retreated to a distance and I have disconnected. Again.

No more insects doing the jitterbug under my skin. No more vicious words snarling like wolves at their kill. No more Aaaaaaaaaah!

But at a price.

The world has gone suddenly muted, as if the soft pedal on the piano has been depressed. Colours have faded. My stomach announces hunger but my taste buds want no food.

My husband holds me, but his hugs are a husk, and his kisses are chaff on my lips.

My children are strangers to me.

And the river calls, dark and inviting. "Come away with me. I will give you peace for ever. Dissolve yourself in me and leave nothing but a trail of bubbles. Slip into and under me; we will wash together into the Wash and the Great North Sea. Slide into silence and leave only silence behind."

But I am too tired to go down to the river. I am the survivor of my own earthquake and personal maelstrom and besides, I still dimly remember past promises I made to stay alive.

I will come through this time too. It's just a matter of holding on; doing the next thing and the next thing and the next.

There is no pain; I am comfortably numb.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Tychi's Mum Thu, Nov 24th 2016 @ 3:17am

Wow Mary...what a brilliant and powerful blog. You describe the horrors of recurrent depression so well....your words really resonated with me and desribe my journey/experience of depression so succinctly. I am four years in to my journey and still trying to find the right medication to help keep me stable.
I am currently out the other side of four weeks of severe depression. I'm feeling elated at feeling well but I'm hyper...I havent slept for four nights hence the post at this ungodly hour....hang on in there Mary. You too will come out the other side and find joy and love again...of that I'm sure.
Where can I find the the first post of this series? I'd love to read it and I look forward to reading the next one.
Thank you Mary for your bravery and honesty and I wish you well on this journey...I'm positive that you've got the strength to get through this "crash" (as I call them). We're all right behind you...
Tychi's Mum xxx

Eva Thu, Nov 24th 2016 @ 6:51am

Hi, its yesterday's blog post

Mary Wednesday Thu, Nov 24th 2016 @ 6:53am

Thank you so much for that affirmation, Tychi's Mum. The first one was yesterday. This is a series describing the stages of going into depression. My overall working title for this was Descent, but that was a bit grim.Tomorrow's and Saturday's are about the isolation and disorientation of depression and Sunday's is a mini essay on the darkness that comes with a sleepless night (very different from the wide awake elation you are going through now). I feel for you in your search for the right medication... although it seems to me that the drugs we take only treat the symptoms rather than looking to regulate the cause. I hope that in the future bi-polar will be recognised as a physical condition and treated accordingly.

Mandy Thu, Nov 24th 2016 @ 5:23am

Every post that you make Mary, I can relate to. I don't have children, so I cannot completely relate to that part of it, but unfortunately your feelings are one of the reasons I did not have them and I regret that I didn't but can never explain to anyone why because I actually think I would have been a good mother. Likewise, I would imagine that you are a better mother than you think you are. To have such deep thoughts, you must be! I bet you can relate to them much more than many parents can. I feel sad because you express your feelings so well and so many people in my life don't understand. You bring great comfort to me. With love, Mandy xx

Mary Wednesday Thu, Nov 24th 2016 @ 7:06am

Thank you Mandy. I understand completely your decision not to have children. I was not diagnosed until after my second one but, if I had been diagnosed earlier I would have had to think much harder than I did. This is very much an inherited condition. When I blogged on that a couple of years ago (I will find the link for you later) I received some criticism, I seem to remember, for being unnecessarily negative. And - I must be doing something right: I've just done my Moodscope score while we were all having breakfast and both my girls want to know what my score is. It's good that they want to share and be involved with me in managing this. I just wish my father had had something like Moodscope to support him, but in the 1960s you just gritted your teeth and got on with it until you couldn't go on any longer.

Mary Wednesday Thu, Nov 24th 2016 @ 7:23am

Just found Genetic Inheritance... it's July 10th, 2013.

Tutti Frutti Thu, Nov 24th 2016 @ 8:06am

Thanks for these details Mary. I don't remember this blog so will make sure that I read it. I too was diagnosed with bipolar after having my daughter. I ended up in hospital for 6 months with puerpal psychosis. I do worry about the genetic inheritance for her and I also just couldn't face going through something as severe as that again for either myself or my family if it was avoidable, so we decided to stop at one. I would have liked another child but although it is still a painful thing to think about I feel blessed with the daughter I do have and I think we made the right decision for us. Love TF x

Kit Thu, Nov 24th 2016 @ 6:38am

Great tune and great blog post, thank you. Chin up, you're strong.

Eva Thu, Nov 24th 2016 @ 6:50am

I like - shine on you crazy diamond - :) thank you Mary for your explanation and connection, that extends the meaning of the song for me. Based on your history do you have a rough idea of how long each stage lasts for you?

Dragonfly I left a note for you on yesterday's blog.

Mary Wednesday Thu, Nov 24th 2016 @ 7:11am

Hi Eva, given the length of the mania (almost four weeks exactly), I expect the depression to last about eight weeks. It seems the downs are twice as long as the ups! And i think Shine on you Crazy Diamond is my favourite too. I love the live version on Delicate Sound of Thunder.

Debs Thu, Nov 24th 2016 @ 7:23am

Mary this blog is just stunning. Stunning. Your descriptions just leap off the page and they are so rich. I'm sending much love through your darkness. Know that your writing touches a lot of people - most definitely me - and you are loved, despite the calling of the river. xxx

Tychi's Mum Fri, Nov 25th 2016 @ 2:26am

I couldn't agree more Debs and you describe the power of Mary's writing so well. Thank you both....sending you love Mary.Do you write for a living Mary? If not, it's something you should consider...I'm sure many Moodscoper's would agree that you are very talented. With love and hope... Tychi's Mum.

Sally Thu, Nov 24th 2016 @ 8:04am

Mary, what an excellent blog and reflection on The Condition! Thank you, Mary.
You added the interesting story of you & Pink Floyd, a group whose music I have never really listened to. (My brother was the only one to have access to music in our family, we somehow missed out... no TV or radio until much later. My brother bought records, but didn't share..he was very introverted and his younger sisters were a nuisance so it was always "hands off".)
Later, I learned Pink Floyd had studied at 'my ' Poly, architecture... in Central London. But since I've had "time" I've been able to catch up on my wasted non -music years , and am learning. I shall therefore look up this album on YouTube with interest.
I can really relate to your experiences, Mary , it is almost painful to recall the pain of it all. Fortunately for me, it is pretty much under control these days, although I find myself always waiting.....JUST in case..... the fear of plunging into the abyss is real, circumstances might just tip me over, I will survive, I dearly hope, just as you have a foggy memory of having made vows to not slip away, & so on. Unfortunately it has been passed on to my daughter, so I tend to be on red alert whenever she is going through a bad patch too. Life, eh?!
Go well, enjoy your lovely family, your writing and your work and more, when you can. I do hope this will be soon.

Sally Thu, Nov 24th 2016 @ 8:12am

P.s., Mary, I am soooo glad you're too tired to 'go down to the river' !! For obvious reasons .
Love, Sally

Mary Wednesday Thu, Nov 24th 2016 @ 11:41am

And I know I will too, once I'm out of this. But thank you anyway - I really do appreciate your kind thoughts

Tutti Frutti Thu, Nov 24th 2016 @ 8:14am

Wishing you any possible comfort as you endure this depression. Cling on to those vows you have made. You are doing a wonderful thing by writing these blogs. They really tell it like it is and I am also very interested to hear about the rest of the Wall album. I was at primary school in 1979 and the only bit that really filtered down was of course "We don't need no education". I would be interested to listen to the rest some time.
Love and hugs TF xoxo

Mary Wednesday Thu, Nov 24th 2016 @ 11:43am It's a great album!

Michael Thu, Nov 24th 2016 @ 9:47am

Mary it helps immensely to know that there are a lot of us in this boat going through a similar nightmare together. The boat analogy works for me in that I often feel I'm having to navigate through treacherous waters and at other times I'm just sitting it out in the doldrums, no wind, no movement, will my resources last long enough until the next breeze comes?
Don't forget "hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way"
Comfortably Numb has arguably the best guitar solos, ever. It still gives me goosebumps and reminds me I'm alive

Mary Wednesday Thu, Nov 24th 2016 @ 11:47am

Yes indeed, the boat analogy is an excellent one! I sometimes refer to my depression as a great leviathan which has swallowed me up like Jonah. And oh yes - those words, "The time is gone, the song is over; thought I'd something more to say." And there is always something more to say. We have infinity within us, even if we do not understand it.

The Gardener Thu, Nov 24th 2016 @ 2:32pm

Very heartfelt blog, Mary 'telling it as it is'. When I wrote a blog about 'plumbing the depths' Caroline was against talking about the 'final solution', silly euphemism, but horribly real in the case of Nazis. An aside. I think it is healthy to admit that in the extreme depths of depression walking into the river seems the only way, not only to escape your own agony, but to relieve your family of the onerous burden (to you) of dealing with this unfathomable (to them) condition. I've felt, and voiced it to the psychiatric nurse who 'props me up' that there is no other solution. In low moments I get desperate (Sunday afternoons the worst) at how I can possibly put up with misery which has no end (there is, of course, permanent hospitalization or natural death). In my darkest moments, of real terror, the feeling that I may land my children with what I am coping with is awful. But to commit suicide would leave them with a worse legacy. Mary you are lucky with your husband - I remember being pure hell to live with, and always, afterwards, thinking 'surely I could have cracked it?' I don't know how many other depression sufferers have been left with the legacy that when normal, a difference of opinion can be safely ignored, 'she's depressed again', As a couple, we've coped - but many issues which would have been better faced have drifted away, but not solved. 'Holding on' is the solution - even one thing you ARE going to do, then maybe a bit bigger challenge, then the great healer, deep, exhausted but restful sleep. Have courage, as you say, you are the only one who can really affect a 'cure' even if only temporary.

Freya Thu, Nov 24th 2016 @ 6:20pm

Oh Mary, this is so beautifully written about the despair and isolation that is depression. It is hard to explain to someone who hasn't been there the appeal of doing anything to make it stop. But it will change and begin to improve. Wishing you much support. xx

Ruthless Thu, Nov 24th 2016 @ 11:05pm

Oh Mary....reading your blogs with great interest; you write about just how I feel and have felt for 30 years.Yet each time I 'come out' from my duvet days and acknowledge that I am part of life as we know it I hope with all my heart ?? that it will be the last time.I actually believe it won't happen again-if only it was that easy-wishful thinking ????
I,just like you ,will never go down to the river although drawn many,many times.I couldn't do that to my family however bad I feel
My ups and downs are four monthly cycles; chronic depression and anxiety and then levelling out and being high for the next four months.
I hope you are finding the positive responses to your blogs lifting for your spirit while you ride out the next weeks numbness
I'm doing a six week Mindfulness course just to see if,this time,I can crack this rotten illness
I'll keep you posted.........!!
Much love

Nicco Sat, Nov 26th 2016 @ 4:30pm

Oh Mary, how I, too, long to be comfortably numb when the horror of it strikes. I thresh about, trying to keep myself from drowning but it's always hard. Then, when it suddenly lifts, I wonder what it was all about. Such a strange illness and one of which I am very afraid. Thank you for your descriptive blogs. Best Wishes to you, Nicco.

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