Rubyetc is a 22 year old artist who creates illustrations about her experience of mental health. Ruby draws about everything from depression, body image and eating disorders to anxiety, low self esteem and working out how to be a 'grown up'. We’re delighted to share with you an extract from her brand new book “It’s All Absolutely Fine”.
The first time I experienced major depression was aged 16. I’d already been very unwell for a couple of years with an eating disorder that had left me miserable and often hospitalised. But this was different, this was as if an actual steamroller driven by a crazy grinning idiot had trundled through the door and flattened my entire life into a sad pancake of nothingness. It wasn’t that I stopped caring about life, but I stopped being able to care. My brain, having been suspended in a state of hyper-vigilance for such a long time just packed in and said ‘No more, your job now is to lie on the sofa incredibly still and just work on evaporating, you useless trowel’. And so I did.
For months and months I spent all day and all night curled up in a variety of mildly uncomfortable positions on my parents’ sofa, creating a small a**eshaped dent in one of the seat cushions and wearing the others down until they looked as deflated and sad as I felt. And you know what? It was sh*t.
It was very sh*t for a long time. No one wants to be lying there at 3:30am reciting the entirety of a Ped Egg commercial ad verbatim as it plays for the fifth time in a row because you haven’t had the energy to change the channel. No one wants to be permanently on the edge of bawling because their reality is one of life being utterly futile and pointless. No one wants to feel so desperate that they end up on a psychiatric ward being asked to rate their mood on a scale of 1-10 as they watch their **** taken somewhere out of reach. But these were all things that happened to me because I was depressed.
My dog was the first person to get me out the house during the sofa months. I mean there are only about two things in the world that can make me go outside when I am at my most dysfunctional – the first of which came to light when I was living alone and had run out of loo roll (doesn’t matter how low I felt, at some point I was going to have to wee) and the second was my woofular unit needing a walk. Aged 16 I was acutely insecure and paranoid about other people seeing me, but clipping the dog’s lead on and having her bounce along beside me sniffing the pavement and p*ssing on trees distracted me from the crushing weight of my own negative thoughts. She was like a mobile security blanket except better and funnier with barking, and a brilliant reminder that it is possible to just ‘be’. It’s for this reason that animals are excellent to have around, particularly when you’re feeling sh*t, because they are so untroubled by existence and unwaveringly confident in their ability to enjoy stuff (even if that stuff is rolling in fox sh*t). When I was unwell, all the care and kindness I wasn’t able to offer myself I could defer onto the dog, and it was in loving the very simple, very stupid, incredibly happy ball of fur and ears I could find just a little bit of point in the pointless.
That’s what you need sometimes, whether it’s a dog or a cat or a jazzy lizard or something else entirely that provides you with some emotional respite when it’s all too messy – a tiny yet significant port in an almighty storm.
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