Introduction, Part the 2nd: December in Melbourne (Nothing I Could Do Would Ever Be Enough)

So – I moved to Melbourne. And the challenge and the new setting were energising. But December, my first full month, was still unremittingly awful. I felt small and alone and ripped out of context. I suspected that I was likely to go insane, in a really, really bad way.

(I’ve arguably ‘gone insane’ before, but although these periods have been enormously disruptive, and damaged some of my relationships quite badly, they’ve also been extremely powerful experiences which provided me with insights and perspectives that couldn’t have been acquired any other way. They may have contributed to my subsequent ruin, but even so I’m glad to have had them. No doubt there will be more about this at some point in the future – although it’s an area I find frustratingly difficult to talk about.)

I still felt nothing had been ‘resolved’, and that this procluded any kind of ability to live a meaningful life. The sense that what I really needed to do was bite the bullet and commit suicide followed me everywhere I went. (Jesus. It gets chirpier, I promise. Trust me, I’m going somewhere with this.) But I wasn’t allowed to do that. So there wasn’t anything I could do. Nothing I could do would ever be enough. This became my new mantra. Nothing I can do now will ever be enough. It beat being a VCR funeral of dead memory waste. But it was far from ideal.

What did I do in December? It’s a big grey blur. I took up a paid volunteer administrative position at beyondblue – partly because I’d previously been involved with them via a contract to develop their communications strategy scored by my old employer, a PR company also contracted by the byzantine beauracratic nightmare that men (and women too, naturally) call the Federal Department of Health. Partly because their CEO is a friend of my mother’s. Partly because I have, at times in the past, identified as a person ‘suffering from Depression’. Partly because they were willing to pay me $15 an hour without the responsibility of being a proper Employee.

It was crap, for all sorts of reasons. I felt dirty being there because the ‘blue is basically a cheersquad for psychiatry, an institution which I’ve come to regard with almost total skepticism and no little contempt. Being constantly surrounded by chirpy, brightly coloured promo material wittering about the eminent ‘treatability’ of depression (and just having to see the word everywhere, all the time) whilst trapped in a seemingly inescapable private hell was not much fun. Nothing was.

I did read Dave Eggers’ “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” – lent to me with enthusiastic recommendations by a friend several months earlier – and liked it enormously. I found its theme of confessional-autobiography-as-skin-shedding-exercise inspiring, in an abstract sort of way. It seemed like a successful attempt to do what I’d tried, and failed, to convince myself I should do in the latter part of last year.

I spent most of my spare time aimlessly surfing the web. Mostly, I read blogs. I was fascinated by the opportunity they provided to peek through the window of a computer screen into other people’s lives. Feeling that I didn’t have a life of my own – didn’t know how to live – they were recognisable as a form of research. And feeling pretty much totally cut off from other people in any interactive sense, they provided me some voyeuristic relief from loneliness.

Ideas about starting one of my own were scuppered by a sense that I had nothing to say which I’d want anyone else to hear. I felt inadmissable to the world. If I’d started a blog, it would have either been a horrible, endless, angstridden whingefest, or be indistinguishable from the sort of material produced by the Apathetic Online Journal Entry Generator.

No good at all.

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