1980 and all that: 2006

Pet Shop Boys - Fundamental

This post won’t be particularly cheery. Sorry about that.

But here’s a little something about myself: I have depression.

Well, at least, I’m on anti-depressants. I’ve not had those awful, awful feelings of absolute despondency and utter, utter self-hatred for a while now. But I have had them – on two separate occasions.

And it was hell.

I know there are many out there who have suffered much worse. Don’t worry; I’m not aiming to compete with anyone.

The first time I found myself in a doctor’s surgery, bawling my eyes out, answering questions about losing interest in doing things, losing my appetite and whether I ever wanted to end it all it was because of bully.

I was 30 and I was being bullied. I was made to feel infinitesimally small and I hated myself for not being able to do anything about it. And I hated myself even more because I felt that everything they were saying was true.

I felt like I really was as useless as I was being (directly and indirectly) told I was.

I hated myself so much.

Soon it didn’t matter that I had removed myself away from the person who was doing me so much damage. I didn’t need anyone else telling me how awful I was now; I had my own brain telling me I was appalling example of humanity at every opportunity. With a mind like that, who needs other people?

The second time it hit me was a few years later. Everything hit me. Work was intense. Life at home was no picnic; my wife had been going through a horrendous pregnancy. And I had stopped taking my tablets. That was a bad mistake.

Fortunately, the second time was not as bad as the first; I’d learnt a lot about myself from the first bout, the tablets seemed to kick in much quicker and the premature arrival of my daughter gave me something to focus on.

I still get wobbles every now and then. I don’t feel like I’m ready to come off the pills just yet. It will probably be a while yet. But that’s ok.

And so we come to my choice of song for 2006.

‘Numb’ by The Pet Shop Boys came out in that year, but it wasn’t until four years later that it became so pertinent for me.

I was walking through Rochester High Street on my daily walk; the fresh air really did seem to do me good. I had got my iPod on shuffle and ‘Numb’ came up. It had been a while since I’d listened to Fundamental, the album from which it comes, so I’d all but forgotten about it (compared to the camp splendour of ‘The Sodom and Gomorrah Show’ or the Bush-baiting ‘I’m with Stupid’), but as I listened to it every single word hit me.

Most sad songs are about relationships gone wrong: ‘Well, since my baby let me…”. But with ‘Numb’ it’s different. There’s no explanation of why these feelings are being experienced. It’s just a description of the feelings:

Don’t wanna hear the news
What’s going on
What’s coming through
I don’t wanna know
don’t wanna know
Just wanna hide away
make my my escape
I want the world
to leave me alone
Feels like I feel too much
I’ve seen too much
For a little while
I want to forget.

Usually what first touches me about a song is its tune – or the way the lyrics are conveyed. Often the voice is more a medium than a message. But not here. Not with this song. I was transfixed.

Every single word hit me.

He knows, I thought as I listened to what Neil Tennant was singing. He knows exactly what I’m going through. And in that brief moment in Rochester High Street, surrounded by strangers going about their day, I felt just that slight bit less lonely.

Thank you Neil.

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