2018 has been the harshest year in my entire life but it is only through accepting these direst challenges that I have been forced to look deep inside myself and attempt to try and pick up the utter mess that is my life, sprawled out on the floor like some sort of sad toxic waste. I do not hold any resentment of anger towards anyone who may have affected my psyche over the years. Any emotional pain I have suffered has helped to get me to this place of recovery. I am writing all this hoping that others might see how their actions can have very marked effects on the wellbeing of others. Without these painful experiences I might not have grown into the deeply loving and sensitive man that I am. But yes over the years many of these moments in my life have reared up in my mind to wound me over and over again but most of those wounds will not have ever been intended by those who inflicted them quite unintentionally. And I like to think that I now have some very good credits in the bank of karma that I have decided to start cashing in to create a new me with a new outlook.

I will just add a small footnote from 2017 to put 2018 into some perspective. While in Peru I was involved in a  car accident where the taxi I travelling in was hit side-on and I received sideways whiplash that smashed my teeth together.

Then during the first few months of 2018 my upper teeth began to fall out. The dentist created a denture for me but while I requested that the plate be very thin behind my upper teeth, being a voice coach the precision of this space is needed to create certain consonants and is crucial to my work. They did not deliver this. Each time I put the denture in my mouth and my tongue touched the plate I vomited. So I am unable to wear them. Without teeth I am unable to work and so a very severe depression settled upon me that continued all throughout 2018. If there are any extremely kind dentists out there who would like to offer me some free treatments then get in touch. I fear I need expensive implants and new gums. I’m not at all sure my smile can be fixed now but if you don’t ask you don’t get.

I decided that since writing these blogs and finding my voice as a writer that I would set about trying to create a new career for myself as a writer. A friend had an idea for a comedy drama about 20 years ago so I thought we might set about writing this. I wrote manically everyday for 8-12 hours for nine months. Writing became my coping mechanism for all the troubles I was experiencing in my day to day life. I cannot give details of the piece as we are in talks with a TV production company about it but the subject matter concerns illness and death as my mother is currently sinking further into dementia and my father has depression and C.O.P.D. And so writing about illness and death gave me a way to control what I couldn’t in real life. However writing about death that frequently was not good for my head even though it is a comedy. Getting under the skin of the dying and those around them was a crazy idea to keep visiting daily. Even when we mourn those we love it is not that permanent for so long. We find ways to step outside of our grief.

When I was just 17 my older brother was killed in a motorbike accident on Gozo in Malta and people tried to avoid mentioning him to keep my mind off the grief. Which was a kind idea but then I never spoke to anyone about it. The head of my creative studies division at 6th form college spoke briefly to me saying it was sad but that was it. Oddly he now lives with his boyfriend on Gozo which does seem strange in my head even though it was 37 years ago and I was just one pupil in 1000s. But I often wished I could have switched places with my brother as I feel he could have had a much happier life than me. Plus he might have given my parents the grand children they craved, that I never would provide. There is a guilt to not providing parents with the continuation of their DNA. So this fed into my misplaced desire to join him in death. A sense that I wasn’t fulfilling a family obligation. Not healthy I know but something I have to live with.

Face matching the Brontë brolly – Team Emily

I booked myself onto a writing course at Arvon in Ted Hughes’ house near Hebden Bridge this year. This was not really the wisest decision I have ever made as the other guys on the course all began to behave very offensively towards me. I decided that I needed to appear super confident to get through living with strangers for a week. But this was misinterpreted by all as loud and brash and the guys it seems wanted the Alpha-Male crown that I didn’t realise I was wearing. I guess in their minds a gay man should not be wearing it all. They were all separately very rude and personal with me. A crushing experience emotionally. I did make friends with a couple of the women which is always a wonderful thing and I did laugh so hard one night that I hurt. Got to see Sylvia’s resting place too.

Then to really break me entirely, the beautiful amazing guy I had been seeing for the last seven years began to withdraw from me and this triggered a total meltdown. So I ran away spending all my remaining money trying to hide from the world and staying in isolated lonely homes thinking more and more about never waking up being a beautiful idea. I hear you Sylvia. I have nowhere to call home since selling up and starting this blog and while that was fun and caused me to face up to behavioural patterns and break them, without my teeth I can no longer teach singing or sound healing and without being paid to write I am earning nothing and savings dwindle.

My particular depression and self-loathing seems to manifest in my never believing anything I have achieved is really something special. I have done many wonderful things in my life but they tend to fill me with a sense of sadness and loss. I became the very best voice coach in the music industry teaching singing to Kylie Minogue, Dannii, Geri Halliwell, Rosin Murphy, Darren Hayes, Dani Harmer and many others but I was everybody’s dirty secret. Nobody likes to admit that they need a voice coach if they are a singer. They all willingly helped their yoga gurus achieve glorified careers but I was something that when asked about it was best to deny knowing me. Or music producers in studios would feel intimidated by my degree level music education and ask the artist to send me away. All these experiences were very crushing. The one exception being Dannii Minogue who really is the kindest and sweetest person I ever worked with. She was also my best pupil and sings brilliantly. Fellow Libra though. We are the best star sign.

Very blurred image of me with Dannii, Zandra and Piers at Dannii’s Studio 54 party

But it works both ways I guess as I have always hated to admit teaching them all too, as at the time I taught them all to sing friends would introduce me as so and so’s voice coach and then nobody saw me, just the celebrities I knew and what gossip I might have about them. I never revealed anything I knew as I am so good with secrets and if you want to work with these people you need to keep mum. This was also a time of paranoia with the newspapers hacking voicemails so many celebrities were looking for those likely to be spilling tales. So I began to invent lies so that way we might see how information travelled. For instance my lie about Kylie was that everything in her house was made smaller so she looked less tiny. And they lapped it up. I also said this is why I’m never seen out with her as I’m so tall. Then one day Geri asked if its true that everything in Kylie’s was small? I said when I stitched those gold lamé hot pants I used a microscope.

But teaching them all was part of my life and my C.V. and I did work with these people when T.O.T.P was making them sing live so I saved many reputations while they remained silent about my contribution. And while I still hate being reminded that I worked with them all, as I was that embarrassing secret, I am trying now to own my own existence so there it is. I admit my murky past in the world of celebrity that made me feel so inadequate. Well no more. I did amazing work even if I have to say so myself as they never will. It did hurt guys though. Just saying.

Snow White and the Seven Designers

I also wrote a few West End pantomimes for the Interior Designers’ Charity Show Off. Even seeing my name on a giant billboard outside the Garrick Theatre didn’t make me feel happy or proud. I directed them too, made a few costumes and even designed some scenery. What the hell is wrong with me? That was a great achievement yet even then I felt such a failure. Which is very wrong of me really but part of how my deep depression affects me. I am always more pleased for everyone else’s achievements. I felt uncomfortable in the public eye and found a round of applause tasteless. Idiot child!

My fabulous Matisse table reveal

I have struggled with depression all my life. It began in my infant school when the head mistress told me to “Shut up you little big head”. At 5 years old she was the first adult to mock me for being intelligent and I was crushed. Then she refused to left me take part in the Nativity play throughout my three years at infant school. And in the final leaving presentation where we were asked to demonstrate all the wonderful things we had learned while under her tutelage such as maths or creative writing I was made to show I had learned to walk on stilts. I taught myself that. She didn’t teach me anything other than to hate myself. The 1970s and it’s progressive child abusing schooling.

Well even I could see I had a big head back then but she didn’t need to say so, She was the headmistress FFS.

Adults in authority verbally abusing or mocking me continued throughout my childhood. I studied hard but was always overlooked or told to shut up by most teachers. Even in orchestras I could play the most moving oboe solos that lasted entire movements and the conductors would ignore me and congratulate a trumpet player for a few solo bars. It’s crushing as a teenager to be ignored when you try so hard.

This continued at the Royal College of Music too where the Vice Director took personal pleasure in belittling me because I arranged a masterclass for the first year students with Dame Heather Harper and a full orchestra. I even won the Italian prize for this though this felt fraudulent as I was crap at Italian. One night on my birthday I was seduced by a guy who squealed on me even though he was the culprit with all the previous sexual experience, I had to leave the college as nobody would listen to my side of the story. So I went to University where a friend of the editor of the college magazine published stuff about my sexuality and I was shamed again. Cruel

These personal traumas never left my head and popped in regularly to cause me pain and doubt. I never blame anyone who has been harsh or difficult towards me for their actions. I am very forgiving but I cannot understand why I was so continuously bullied and made to feel ashamed.  I do my best to mask and hide my depression but I do have an inherent self-destructive nature that overcomes my entire thought process at times as a consequence of the many difficult experiences in life. Admitting all these thoughts and doubts publicly feels like undressing my entire soul and standing totally naked in front of you all and this scares me immensely. It is hard to write all these things that play in my head and often make me despise myself but I need to let them all out of my head. I am usually withdrawn when depressed as I do not wish to infect others with my dark thoughts. I only desire to express and share joy. But it’s time for me to be honest and open. Going to talk with a therapist would still make it all seem like something shameful I should do behind closed doors. Well no more. I’m 50 and I will not be silenced anymore.

My handful of friends were unable or unwilling to offer me any support this year when I asked for it. They only want the jolly version of me that I try to project. Not the saddo who needs a real friend and this has been a very sobering experience. I realised that I am totally alone. This was a very unpleasant place to be as I approached the excitement of being 50. When my birthday arrived I just cried at my complete loneliness. However it is in my nature to always be an optimist at heart and so I am attempting to pick myself up now and I will endeavour to try and find myself a new future and a new me.

The first upside of starting a new chapter is that after 30 years of being a vegetarian I am now totally plant based in my eating habits and have lost 3 stone. Not sure if that was the dietary change of the stress of my loneliness and insanity, but it’s not a bad thing really. I have also begun going to the gym 5 days a week as this helps depression.  Although today I have a sore lower back and cannot stand up haha. But without the stillness of being forced to lie down all day I would not have written this and added a little apprehension to my life to wake me up further. So watch this space as I try to offer honesty about being a single gay man of 50 in a world that frightens the hell out of me and has done my entire life. Why is life so hard to navigate? Maybe because we have a cruel Tory government. Haha 

Shopping for a new life this Christmas

I am so concerned now blogging about this but I do feel that I need to start being honest and open about my life if I am to recover from the abject pain and misery I find myself in. So people, I will blog about my recovery and post my progress throughout 2019. I cannot afford to travel any longer as I am without any funds to finance it but in my head I can go anywhere I imagine. And I can imagine so many wonderful places and things to do. But I desire to actually see them too again one day so fingers crossed I can find some way to earn an honest crust that doesn’t involve allowing adverts on my website.

Is velour the cure? I’m not sure but it feels soooo good to wear

A couple of hours I ago I spotted this article in the Guardian which has made me feel a lot better about dragging up all the trivial details of my many past traumas. It makes me realise that there is a rather huge one that has been staring me in the face forever as it raised it’s ugly head in a nasty row between myself and my father two days ago but it also one from which I should take great strength from too. But that’s for my next blog. Come on people – help me out here and add a comment. Or I might start crying again.

A message to any friends out there who may read this and feel that I am compromising their privacy. It is not my intention to ever do that. I shall not include any names or any personal details. And anyone who knows me will know that I mean no harm to any living creature. But I must write. I cannot help this, or myself if I do not live in the light of honesty. So please all of you forgive me if I cause any offence. But honesty is the best policy. I will edit out any shit you are unhappy with if you let me know folks.

5 Replies to “50 years of optimistic depression

  1. That’s a brutally honest post Russell, it must have taken a lot of bravery to write this as it’s not something that people talk about readily – keep trucking my friend, the world would be a far less interesting place without you. Catia

    1. Thanks Catia. It is something people don’t want to talk about and that is cool too. I rarely try to talk about troubling moments myself even though I am a willing ear to others. Using the blog meant I could pretend that the internet is my obliging therapist and just waffle away. I won’t do something stupid, it’s just a repeating thought pattern I fight. I’m the sardines stitched into the hem of an ex’s curtains after you split up. I just wanted people to understand that the desire to depart is deep within my psychological history but never an actual outcome. More a cry for help. But I’m feeling good after this long hard year.

  2. You seem to have done such a lot of amazing things in your life, Russell. You seem to cook amazing things, you’ve transferred to a plant based diet, you’re carrying on, you’re writing… yet I hear how hard you find life at times. How terrible to have lost your teeth – how horrible for you. I do hear that you have gone through such a lot of horrible things, alongside some amazing times. I am sure that many people put on a good face/wear a facade to get through the day. You’ve been so hurt, I can hear that – how terrible it is to love someone and be rejected. You are still carrying on – and that is am amazing feat of courage and endurance.

    1. Hello Zelly. Thank-you so much. It has been a very tough time. I am the gift horse into which you ought to look in the mouth. Especially now I’ve so many teeth missing. It also makes chewing a slight problem too but as the post states I am always the optimist. I believe in and search out the good in people always. Even cruel people. I always seek to understand why they behave badly and I’m sure I will forgive my love one day but I can never go back. As an optimist I am very much a forward looking person and I’ve little time for reminiscing. But I thought that it was time to look back and review all I had done and things I had allowed to hurt me so I might let them all go and move forward. Life is wonderful and joyous and I am looking forward to another 50 years ahead. Hope to see you soon. I have started cycling so we may meet again while out.

    2. It is true Zelly that I have done many things but for some reason little of it fills me with pride. I suspect it is because I was the dirty secret when I was teaching all those pop stars to sing. They were all rather selfish and cruel and I think it helped set a pattern. Also though my mother always taught me to never blow my own trumpet but I decided that I ought to start playing a fanfare for myself as nobody has ever trumpeted on my behalf. So I writing myself a brand new tune and it is entitled “Team Me”! I’m getting quite good at the main theme but I’m busy working out all the variations. Thanks for your kind words. Fingers crossed your words are true. I suspect they are. I just couldn’t see the wood for trees in my darkest gloom but sharing it online here has been a tonic to better health and a brighter future.

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