There’s no set menu for dealing with depression. No quick fixes. Absolutely no sense of one-size-fits-all. What there can be, however, is copious amounts of improvisation. Adapting. Finding ways of coping. It’ll come as no surprise to anyone who knows me well enough that the greatest form of escape is often from observing sport.
What might surprise some, though it really shouldn’t, is that an inability to be at as many sporting events in person as would be liked is one of the main causes of the mental health travails one tends to become engulfed by all too often. That, and a complete loss of interest in going to do or watch anything. There, I said it.
To my utmost regret and indescribable heartache, the corrosive malaise has even infected my lifelong love of farming. In fact, in some ways it is affairs of the land that cause the greatest upset. Longing for things to be different. It shouldn’t be this way. this should be the most special, enjoyable time of the year.
Life is different now though. Will it ever go back to the way it was? I don’t know, hope will never be lost. What is flooring me is seeing neighbouring farmer friends abuzz at hay and silage and starting the harvest and yet not feeling part of that world anymore. Not to mention all the bonuses and schemes etc other folk are in which can only be admired from afar.
My brother told me the other day he met one of the lads with a big load of barley. Knowing the machinery nut within me he wasn’t the least bit surprised that I was able to tell him the make and particulars of the large conveyance behind the tractor. Even though I might not get out to view action as much as would be desired, contact is generally maintained with the local farming fraternity so it was known the operation in question had made the new purchase last winter.
But here’s the thing. Contact was kept up. Until the demons took hold, that is. Earlier this year, another local outfit – the one with which closest bonds have always been held – sent a text a first cut silage time when the wheelchair failed to appear in their yard: “Hope you’re OK, dad missed you today”
The inquiry made me well up for conflicting reasons. On one hand, heartbreak at not being up watching what was going on, and on the other, knowing that were I in situ, it would break me up even more longing for things to be different in other places. Is there a happy medium? That bit is still being deciphered.
Similarly, the brother wouldn’t, couldn’t have known that a simple thing like mentioning meeting the grain trailer made me wish the ground would open up and swallow me. There are changes afoot to the local landscape – deemed necessary by some though this corner would beg to differ – which lead one to wonder if, very soon, there will be any farming left around here at all.
And that in itself creates another emotional conflict in this seat. Of course a part of me wants to be out in the middle of it all. At the same time, however, I’m unsure as to whether the fact that this will most likely be the last year certain things happen in particular places will keep me in the bind I currently reside – that of watching the action, knowing that it’ll be last thereof and being absolutely heartbroken by that.
It’ll be just a case of hoping natural instinct takes over and that these wheels will end up parked in a field before the harvest season is out. Do that and deal with whatever way it hits me emotionally later on is the best and most likely outcome. That might seem strange, but then, there’s often no rhyme or reason to living and/or dealing with depression.
Now, at this juncture it must be stated that it’s not only farming matters that have emotions conflicted. Undoubtedly the hardest thing for me to deal with is the sense of days getting away on me. One day rolling into the next. Things get the “I’ll do it tomorrow” treatment but eventually the tomorrows pile up, the texts remain unmade, the phone calls unmade and the cattle unseen.
Regular visitors to this space will also know other things have become stalled too. Most notably my first book. However, just to allay fears, it WILL get published. Sooner rather than later in fact. That it hasn’t already is nobody’s fault but mine and it’s impossible to relay how shattering that fact is.
Apart from the support of my family, my partner Susan, wonderful friends and – in no small way – the exploits of the Meath senior football team, the thing that has kept me going most lately has been watching videos of either old sporting action or favoured songs. There’ll be more about the former in the column which follows this one but in terms of the latter, there’s only one which comes to mind at the minute – ‘One Day At A Time’.