South of the River – Other people


Compass-SouthComment logo 2I think it must have been in honour of World Mental Health Day last Friday that my depression flared up again this week.

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.

Jeremy Morton Aug13But there’s still room for taking solitary walks, now where did I put the dog’s lead?

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.

2 Replies to “South of the River – Other people”

  1. What an inspiring read… “I know that as a depressive, I am my harshest critic”. I think that will stay with me for a long time.

    Thanks for sharing this, Carla.

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