It was the French philosopher Jean-Paul Satre that said “Hell is other people” and I frequently agree. Of course avoiding people isn’t a great strategy for a community journalist.
We’ve got a puppy and I’ve been taking her for long walks in Middleton Woods. She loves to explore and chase squirrels (she never catches them) and I love the peace and tranquillity of walking on my own amongst the trees. Some people might see taking the dog for a walk as a chore, but several times recently it’s been a blessed relief.
I had a bit of an episode in a meeting a few days ago when everything got too much. I fled the meeting and literally hid under my duvet. I didn’t speak to anyone for 24 hours. I was hiding from the ‘hell’ of other people, but also hiding from myself. I was embarrassed about my behaviour, I beat myself up about not being able to hold things together.
I finally surfaced on email – I’m much more confident writing than talking. There’s a delete button and you can edit your words to say what you really mean. I’ve already rewritten this paragraph three times. When I did make contact, I was really surprised and humbled by the level of support that I was offered. People didn’t want to condemn and walk away, they were concerned for me and wanted to help.
Satre’s sound-bite is taken out of context, you’ll have to go and read him to explore his ideas. So I won’t say Satre was wrong, but I will say avoiding other people is a mistake.
I know that as a depressive, I am my harshest critic. If I flip that idea, it means that everyone else thinks more highly of me than I do. It follows that talking to them will usually be a good experience. It’s not always easy to do, but I try.
I’ll be back in next week with more of my views from South of the River. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow me: @BeestonJeremy.