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  • Writer's pictureEric Rushton

Lessons From My Latest Bout of Being Nuttier Than Squirrel Shite

Every time I have a bout of depression, I say to myself “What is this experience trying to teach me?”

I’d like the answer to be something cool like Jiu-Jitsu or Swedish, but normally it’s just, “Comparing yourself to others is flawed,” or “Happiness will come from relinquishing attachments.”

Useful lessons for sure – but imagine being able to overcome your depression by absolutely twatting someone and then calling them a pussyhole in a Scandinavian dialect.

I suppose violence can never be the answer to contentment. Presumably. I dunno if it’s ever been tested in a clinical trial as a cure for depression. It would be simple enough to set up. You have a group of people who are told to be as violent as possible, then a control group, then another group whose job is to get beaten up. We could kill two birds with one stone by populating the third group with members of the Tory Party.



Now we’re really cooking on gas!

Init, lads?

Isn’t it?

Is not it?

Unfortunately, though, depression can’t and never will be able to teach us martial arts. It is worth trying to draw on what it can teach us, though, and every time I feel myself escaping from the grip of being batshit mental, I do appreciate those realisations.

You’re gifted this clarity of everything. It seems so obvious where you were going wrong, how those thought patterns you indulged in aren’t healthy and how you need to re-evaluate your priorities.

I have a phase where I become monk-like. It’s a bit like when you have a really bad hangover and you say to yourself “I am NEVER drinking again” and then you pop a few paracetamols down your gob and eat a mango and go to the gym and feel really motivated.

Then sooner or later you do end up drinking again. Why? Cos it’s fucking mint, mate. Few tinnies on the go with your mates, banter flying around, feeling all giddy. It’s irresistible. And you know what else is mint? Indulging in comparing yourself to others. Feeling sorry for yourself. Feeling victimised by how your reality hasn’t matched up to your expectations of where you think you should be at in your life.

I do realise that the drinking metaphor isn’t great considering how closely related depression and alcoholism are, but I’m gonna plough on. Also, I don’t actually drink that much, and I think this makes me sound like an alcoholic.

But you can get a nice buzz from unhealthy thought-patterns is what I’m saying. And like with drinking, the temptations are all around us. Partly in culture – we’re fed a certain narrative of what constitutes happiness – but also, I think it’s just human nature to compare yourself to others and pin your hopes on certain things. Then if you add on top of that a biological predisposition to low moods, you’re gonna end up binging and getting absolutely off your tits on depression.

I think the answer is to maybe work on yourself in a more incremental way. Rather than trying to fix yourself in one go, maybe it’s just about adjusting your habits, working on making yourself 5% more grateful, 5% less jealous, 5% more accepting of things outside your control. So when you next go through a phase of being nuttier than squirrel shite, you’re slightly better at dealing with it than the last time.

It’s like a footballer working on their free-kicks, init. They might miss or hit the wall a few thousand times, but the best players just constantly work on adjusting and finessing their technique, trying to get closer to the target each time.

I have a bit of trouble with knowing where the goal is. I need to figure that out. When I go mental, it seems to be a cluster of the same recurring thoughts coming together at once. I worry that I’m doing bad at comedy. I worry that I’ll never be successful. I worry what others think of how I live my life. I worry about how other people are doing compared to me. I worry about financial insecurity, that all my friends who are doing more traditional jobs will be able to get mortgages one day whereas I’ll be in a houseshare still writing blogs about how sad I am when I’m in my 40’s.

I guess what I’m unsure about at the moment is knowing how much I should tame those thoughts. I can see some benefits to them too. Comparing myself to others drives me to work harder. Having expectations give me something to aim at. The worries about money make it more pressing for me to figure out how to make what I’m doing more financially viable.

I dunno if I would want to live a life of no expectation and comparison and no need for validation. An ascetic life of just sitting down and watching your thoughts all day seems bland, almost like one step above death. What’s the point in living like that?

I suppose, as with most things in life, the answer to all this is annoyingly complex and probably specific to each person. You’ve got to balance all sorts of priorities, make all sorts of decisions about the type of person you want to be, what you’re willing to sacrifice and what you’re not.

Hopefully my next dip brings me a bit closer to figuring it all out, to a bit of peace, to finding that sweet spot in the top corner that the keeper can’t quite reach.

Anyway, that’s about it.

Cya xx

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