Recorded in the freezing cold on the sea wall at Saint Mary’s Bay Broadstairs. I talk about the accuracy of words and our completely lack of vocabulary when it comes to describing the experience of depression.
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This episode has heavy sound design. It’s best listened to. This is possibly the best Episode I’ve made to date, and the single most honest thing I have ever put on the Internet.
I’m back in Thanet.
Down on the chalk.
I’m recording this outside on my field mic so apologies for the wind. I’m going to try and make this episode up as a go along.
As I stand here on the sea wall. I’m struck at how we don’t have detailed words for some very important things.
I’m going to point things out as I see them.
There’s a billow coming over – literary a large wave of there in the sea
There’s the breakers, a wave that rolls over onto a beach
There’s the caps or top part of a waves.
If they are white like todays cold North Sea then they are crests or white tops.
It’s just gone low tide.
I can see the high water mark on the beach. Before it reached that point we would have called the water coming in – the flood tide, or reaching high tide.
Probably about 7 o’clock this morning.
There’s a new moon next week. There’ll be spring tides, when there’ll be the greatest difference between high and low water, also after full moons. In between the fathers phases we get neap tides.
I’ve moved a bit further down the coast. Behind me is the land, made of chalk and in front of me the sand, rocks, sea and sky.
I can see ripples on the surface of pools. There are rollers further out. Some break and spume across the sand.
Spume is the name for the bubbles waves make.
It’s not rough enough for white horses but the sea still swells, and heaves creating troughs between its crests.
And I know if I was up on the clifftop and not down here I’d see the undercurrent that pops round the coast just off shore. And if I was in the water I’d feel the undertow moving in the opposite direction to the water above it as the waves lap at the beach.
It’s early afternoon and the sun is nearly setting. There’s glitter on the waves from the light setting round the coast.
Words are there to confirm our realities, they are the scaffold by which all of humanity keeps a loose understanding of the chaos of the world together. There is a reason we have so many words for rain and for the wind.
When experiences are elemental you can be pretty sure that the person next to you is experiencing the same sensation as you are.
But it is not good enough to just say ‘it’s raining’. What kind?
Is it drizzle?
By giving these things names we can confirm our reality to one another.
“Yes the thing i’m experiencing IS the same experience as you are having – its called X”
It’s funny isn’t it. That I can stand here and name all these things about the sea around me. And yet we have so few names or terms for depression.
I said the word spume earlier, a word for bubbles that come from waves.
Why don’t we have a word so that everyone knows what it means when you say you feel like you are disappearing?
In her novel Alaska, Sue Saliba described another moment as:
…for a moment, she let herself be defeated, wished herself not exactly annihilation but into a temporary absence, into being nowhere and no one just for a little while.Sue Saliba – Alaska
We (or I) needed a word for that too. Last year.
I have been through a weird emotional journey in the last 2 years or so. Since I quit the last start up I was working at full time because of stress. I was getting chest pains and was holding so much tension in my legs, I could barely walk. At the end of 2017 I fell into a deep dark hole and tried to dig myself a rest for most of 2018. This year was more like walking out the a long shadow. And I am pleased to say with confidence that I am much MUCH better now. But it has taken a long time. I am so grateful too Eve for her support.
But its weird isn’t it?
We have so many words to accurately describe and confirm the world around us but fall short when we reach for words to accurately describe how we are feeling.
Major, Chronic, Manic, Periodic.
These are all classifications that in my mind fall short and are inadequate to the truth of the matter.
It’s not just important for people to be more open about our mental states and mental lives. But to find ways to evoke and communicate things that 1 in 4 people will be affected by at some point in their lives.
We need not create new words for words sake. But to develop and adopt a more poetic language around our mental and inner lives.
Our ancestors had the four temperaments:
Melancholic, Phlegmatic, Sanguine and Choleric.
Perhaps we could look there. Before the DSM stole melancholic and medicalised it.
I’m away next week and have a guest attempting the 301 format. Look out for that and I’ll speak to you all again in Dec.
The above is the original script I wrote for the episode. It may differ from what ended up in audio due to time constraints.
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