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Friday, 21 November 2014

Auntie Comes Round for Tea and Conversation...about My Experiences with Stress and Depression

Almost certain to be true in my case.

It's Friday night as I write this and I have to say it's been a strange day. I've made my second trip into the office since my accident - by taxi as I cannot use public transport.  This time, though, required me to be in the office for 9 am rather than sauntering casually into the place at 12, so I had rather a rude awakening for me, the worker-at-home and walking wounded.

Champagne soaked floozie? Never. Well, not a floozie. I have (some) dignity.

Today I have been filmed by the BBC - twice - for their BBC Breakfast show on BBC One. Once, to be in my office (and office garb), and a second time at home in my usual attire. [I asked them if a reindeer onesie was okay but apparently that's been done before. Darn it.]. This I was told by the producer I spoke to yesterday. The funny thing about TV (news) is that you have to believe it's not really going to happen. I can't remember how or where I picked up this notion, but it is absolutely true. If you ever wonder what a PR does for his / her company, look no further than spending hours on the phone trying to convince this or that paper, TV show or website to feature their cause, their celebrity, their largest cabbage in the Cotswolds. Whatever. As I said I don't know how I got to know this - I can hardly believe it to have come from my brief flirtation with student journalism, but I have now an innate sense of disbelief that any programme or feature I'm involved with will actually, well, happen.


Still, after a 'possibly but probably not' email from Mind on Wednesday, that turned into a 'definitely' on Thursday afternoon with filming to take place the next day: the other thing to note is how fast these things are arranged. As you know I've been fairly vocal here and on TV / with Mind about my commitment to supporting mental illness advocacy, so now Mind has me on its books, as it were, as a case study they can roll out. "Jessica, yes, she's mad as a bag of snakes," is something that they are extremely unlikely to say when asked if they have someone to feature on this or that show, or in an article on whatever. On the other hand, I do have a string of mental illness symptoms to my name. Stress, tick, depression, yes, anxiety, oh definitely, loneliness (causing one or more of the former) for sure. On these grounds it does make me rather easy to ping to mind when wanting a willing spokesperson. And after all, I haven't invested in Botox stocks for nothing, you know.

Lovely Leah. I made her a cup of tea and she drank it. Win.

The beautiful and petite (ugh, I must remember this is a blog, not a personal ad) Leah Boleto is my interviewer. And fabulous, super nice Pete is our camera man. A compact but great team for the interview. We do a couple of shots at the office. One is of me typing with an incredibly close shot of my fingers as I submit the exciting message that is my weekly time sheet. I probably did it wrong because all I could think about was the fact that I hadn't painted my nails and in the words of Arsenio Hall in Coming to America, "I am badly in need of a manicure." You said it Arsenio.

"I am badly in need of a manicure."

At home, we do straight conversation style interview, with me talking to Leah and Pete filming, with just me in shot. We seem to talk for a long time so I certainly hope they got something to go on!

(Incidentally, friends and close blog reading amigos, let me be clear about what is required if someone comes to film at your house: cleaning and tidying. Neither of these are daily on my to do list, so it was with something reminiscent of a spinally injured, broken elbowed whirling dervish that I swept around the front room with help from the lovely Mat to make sure that we had vacuumed the rug and arranged the cushions properly. At the very least. And taken the recycling out. Let's just say that I felt I really deserved my dinner and glass of wine last night after whipping round. But I did my exercise for the day, sponsored by co-dydramol and Gabapentin. Why thank you.)

Leah and me, after filming. Jessica = relief

Leah was sensitive in asking whether it was difficult to talk about my past experiences. Reflecting on this, it gets easier the more that I do it, and honestly, it's not like a therapy session, so I don't end up crying all over her (I'm delighted to say, and I'm sure she's pretty pleased about that too!). I was saying to Mat this week that I don't want to become a broken record where depression is concerned. I do have other stuff going on. I'm most of the way through watching Lie To Me and contemplating The Good Wife and Scandal as the next box set-cum-Netflix-must-watch.

Bed bound and Netflix-addict. Thank you Tim Roth.

The difference in talking this time was that this was a recorded interview, rather than live. It was also a lot longer, so that my words can be chopped up into bite-sized segments describing my life experiences. I wonder how it will come out. I'm guessing about 20-30 seconds of content, so will be amazed if anything more is featured. That's TV, folks. They also took some footage of me 'doing something normal' for potential use in the segment.

Pete - awesome. Me - trying to look relaxed = not really relaxed!

Luckily the suggestion of me making tea was ditched in favour of me reading a book. I did make them tea - the poor two had travelled all the way from east London to Teddington and it took them nearly three hours. Perhaps a neat Scotch would have been more appropriate! But I don't drink it, or coffee. (I know, English, you're ENGLISH. Must drink tea...but I'm sorry to say that I'm letting the nation down, one de-caffeinated diet coke and orange squash, or glass of Veuve, at a time.)

 So we opted for me reading a book. I couldn't undertake this exercise in our personal gargantuan library without choosing my very favourite book, Possession, by A.S. Byatt. This is worth a blog in itself, or a book, or more, but suffice to say that I felt almost relaxed (almost) with a camera being poked in my face as I turned the page on cue and made sure I quickly moved on from a page where the (surely pre-watershed embargoed) word 'penis' appeared!

Time for a relaxing read. Just me and my camera crew.

 After all that time to get over here it was all worth it in terms of the tidying and cleaning. Everyone who sent me a get well card - look out for your cards in the background, and thanks again! You know what my favourite book is now, you can tell I need a manicure (possibly, if they use that shot) and I got to meet two great professionals - presenter and film expert - in the process. It just goes to say that depression can lead you to new and positive things. I really hope that the end product - to be broadcast on Tuesday 25th November to coincide with the Economist's "Global Crisis of Depression" conference. I believe we have to keep talking about this. But for now, I'll take a rest and wish you all a very healthy weekend. Get some rest and get out there if it's not raining...take care, most of all.

Camera lighting is very cool. Just saying.

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