what it's like to come out as depressed

​After coming out as suffering from depression in an article for i-D earlier in the year, performance artist Scottee looks at the way his life has changed since, and the ways “a flamboyant, fat femme” struggles through a world of muscled, macho males.

by Scottee Scottee
|
18 May 2016, 9:10am

I spend a lot of time drinking cups of herbal infusions, harping on about the price of what used to be called herbal tea. Other 11am conversations my friends have to endure include angry rants about queer identity, the working class chip on my shoulder and my new favourite topic, my mental health.

For a long time I kept my mental health under wraps. I think my friends thought I was a bit of an ignorant, moody queen who was occasionally uncontactable. It took me 30years on this planet to be able to own my blues and talk freely about my relationship with depression - now I can't stop talking about my emotions.

I chose what some of my friends thought was the cowardly way of coming out - writing an article on i-D, posting it on Facebook and running away from my laptop, but how do you sit your friends down and talk about your feelings without it becoming an awkward Californian cliché? I'm not great at having my hand held or knowing what to do with your friends sympathetically smize at you.

I chose what some of my friends thought was the cowardly way of coming out - writing an article on i-D, posting it on Facebook and running away from my laptop.

Since coming out I've been putting the pieces of myself back together after a rocky start to 2016 and my first major dip in seven years. It's taken me four months to get back up to speed; four months of coming out every day, apologising for not running at everyone else's capacity. 136 days of thinking how I can better protect myself; curating the people I need around me to get better. 3264 hours of explaining how I'm feeling now - it's been bloody exhausting.

For me, when I reach the other side of the dark tunnel it often feels like the reset button has been pressed. I have greater clarity, I've learnt from the last dip and I'm able to add new tools and rules to my armoury. This round has seen me find a deeper control of my emotional eating, I've given up my beloved espresso drinking and I'm walking an average of 9 miles a day - I've relearnt how to be nicer to myself.

After baring all for i-D I received a lot of encouragement to talk more about my depression. On the whole people thought I was brave although one comment has stayed with me. It told me I needed to buck my ideas up and stop revelling in self-pity - apparently depression is an illness of the privileged. For what it's worth the comment came from a bloke. This aggression towards my mental health got me thinking - is the reason my mental health takes a battering nothing to do with my coffee habits but attributed to the many ways the world pushes me to the side-lines, asking me to be quieter and more like the mainstream.

One comment has stayed with me, it told me I needed to buck my ideas up and stop revelling in self-pity - apparently depression is an illness of the privileged. 

I'm no stranger to a false eyelash and a smear of Lady Danger, I like a jazzy print and I'm not the quiet one at the party - I do not apologise for having a personality. I'm a flamboyant, fat femme in a world where muscled, macho males are the kings of societies impenetrable castle. Since the first day of school when Tony Gibson said I wasn't allowed to play with boys because I talked like a girl I've been othered.

Since being woken up to my difference I've been bullied and beaten up, spat at, stared at, pushed and shoved because I don't behave or look like the rest of the population thinks I should. We humans are bizarre outward looking animals who consume an extremely limited imagery about what normal is - anything that sits outside this narrow mainstream of acceptability is shamed, brilliantly exemplified by the latest micro aggression involving camera phones slyly capturing my otherness for Fat Gays in Public type tumblrs. It seems like the world enjoys constantly reminding people like me that we do not fit, so can normativity be to blame for my privileged mental health status, oh dear troll?

It seems like the world enjoys constantly reminding people like me that we do not fit, so can normativity be to blame for my privileged mental health status, oh dear troll?

I wonder what would happen if I stopped wearing women's clothes, pretended to act butch, deepened my voice, lost eight stone and steered clear from public transport? Would I be happier, suffer fewer mental health afflictions? The answer to this should be no but I'm not totally convinced that would be the truth. A perverse side to my nature wants to put it to the test but depression isn't just the plague of society's wierdos and outcasts - those at the top of the tree are equally affected by the bark of the black dog but perhaps the bite is not as bloodied by the noise of normativity.

For now I'm keeping my collection of polyester blouson and jelly sandals. Life is too short to read, think, reread, worry and fear the comment section populated by just one troll - we're all navigating complex issues of our worth no matter how privileged we are perceived to be. I'm taking one step at a time, preparing myself for next ride on the world's most boring white knuckle rollercoaster. No matter how well adapted you become in recognising the root of your depression you are never really are able to divorce it - you just get better at talking about it although I'm not sure I'll ever be comfortable with the hand holding.

This week, Mental Health Awareness Week takes place in the UK, in an effort to increase the conversation around the much neglected subject. To coincide, all week i-D.co will share voices from the fashion industry and beyond, discussing their thoughts, feelings and experiences of suffering from mental health issues.

To anyone looking for support, Samaritans, Mind and Rethink Mental Illness all offer helplines and advice to those in need. Mind and beat offer support and advice for those worried about eating problems. 

Credits


Text Scottee
Photography Holly Revel

Tagged:
Think Pieces
mental health week
Scottee