Having an 'under the hedge' day.

Wednesday December 4, 2013

In some ways depression is like any other illness. We have bad days, but we also have some days that are, if not good, than at least, not too bad.

It's the bad days I want to talk about here. The days when just getting out of bed seems a feat on the scale of climbing to the moon on a cobweb, when it's utterly impossible to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet (to quote T S Eliot) or even to put a load of washing in the machine.

These are the days my sister calls 'Under the Hedge' days. When her cat is poorly he goes and hides under the hedge just by himself, and I think we can understand how he feels.

What my sister has to do is be cruel to be kind. She has to go scrabble under that hedge, grab him (he does not appreciate this) bring him into the warm and give him his medicine. Then she has to make sure he eats something and stays snug in his basket by the woodstove so he can feel better.

Sometimes we have to be our own responsible owners. It's so, so easy to stay in our "comfort clothes" of sweatpants and fleece (well – those are my comfort clothes anyway) and not bother with any other food but toast and jam. If we cannot drag ourselves out from under the hedge, then we need to have friends to whom we give that permission; friends who can give us that tough love.

Is there anyone with a key to the door who can come in, roust us up and into that shower, make us put on real clothes (and makeup if appropriate) and take us out into the fresh air for a walk?

If there is no one currently, could there be somebody in your life who would be up for that? It's a brave thing to do – to ask someone to be that tough with us. It may not be appropriate for you, but it's all part of building our support network.

After all – it's simple to stay under that hedge, hiding; but it's cold, and the twigs have thorns and the rain gets in our fur. Nobody likes to be grabbed and man-handled and force-fed medicine, but it's much nicer to be warm and cosy by the fire and to know that someone loves us enough to make us do that.

Not perhaps purrfect, but better at least.

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