I would like to share with you a short conversation I had today.
I needed to replace a light bulb in a friend’s car. Having retrieved the bulb from the car, which was a struggle, I popped to my local garage to see if they had a replacement. I will use false names, just out of respect for privacy.
“Hi Jan, how are you?” I said.
“I’m alright my love, how are you?” Jan responded.
“Yeah I’m alright … do you have one of these?” holding up the bulb that would shine no more.
“Yes, we should have, hold on a moment, let me take a look.” Jan said.
Jan is married to Bob and they run the garage together. As a lad, I had worked on the petrol pumps at this garage, while at school and even while doing my apprenticeship, to make a bit of extra cash. Bob and I are roughly the same age. The garage was originally owned and run by Bob’s Dad but sadly he has passed away and now Bob runs the garage.
Having got my light bulb, I asked Jan if Bob was in and she said he was, so I went into his office to see him and say hello. Several months previously, I had given the guys at the garage copies of the first three volumes of ‘The Ramblngs of My Madness’.
“Hi Bob, how are you doing mate?” I said.
“Fucking awful!” he emphatically replied. “… I loved your books … I didn’t know you suffered with this darkness thing …” he continued.
What followed was a conversation with Bob, where all the ‘curtains’ came down … we talked frankly about the issue of depression and how our joint experiences of depression, at a young age, was to ‘sweep it under the carpet’ and how our parents swept ‘it’ under the carpet too. Bob said that he had kept a diary for years. For him, this was a good form of self help, because he writes everyday and when he is in the dooms of hell, he can look back at old diaries and see that the darkness in his soul does lift eventually. This might be something that works for you? What harm can it do? Why not give it a try? Or maybe your loved one observing your mood could do the same?
October through to March, with lessening sunlight, can compound issues for a person who battles with depression. Now given the caveat that I am not a doctor, it is however very well researched and proven that sunlight helps our bodies to produce vitamin D. If you are seasonally affected by lack of sunlight, it might be worth trying a vitamin D supplement.
Back to my conversation with Bob …
It was uncanny how the parallels of our experiences had been similar, yet somehow I sensed that Bob, at that moment, just needed an ear of empathy and of understanding. So I listened. At the end of it, I gave Bob a ‘man hug’ and whispered in his ear, “Don’t beat yourself up, mate.” We shook hands and I departed.
The effects here are manyfold.
Firstly, in listening to Bob he was actually helping me. You see, it reinforced the fact that I wasn’t alone in my battle. Secondly, Bob may have felt (I hope) a little less shame or embarrassment. Thirdly, I touched on the matter (while Jan was around) of whether depression is worse for the sufferer or the loved ones of the sufferer. Being a person who suffers with depression can sometimes give you a level of understanding that others don’t have … and in my few moments with Bob, I was glad to be a person suffering with depression, so that I could go into the darkness with him … and at the same time offer some glimmer of light to Jan.
Well it’s the least I could do after being provided with a new light bulb! (my feeble attempt at humour)
I still sensed in Bob, that the depression issue was a reason for shame, but I sincerely take my hat off to him and his lovely wife … the courage they both show every day, in getting out of bed, let alone running a business is incredible.
And to you two folks, Bob and Jan, you may not realise it but the unconditional love and respect you have for each other shines through that ‘gruff’ exterior.
I stand as one bloke that applauds you both.
With love, peace and hope,
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