There can be nothing worse than being in single in London and depressed. It’s bad enough being single, or at least that’s what I thought at the ripe old age of 28, but being depressed as well – no wonder all my friends thought I was a lesbian.
Not that I have anything against lesbians, I’m just not. Not that any Lesbian would have given me the come on anyway so even if I was a lesbian I would have still been single.
That’s the problem with being depressed you tend to be blind to opportunities. Perhaps I was given the come on but I wasn’t in the emotional place to notice interested boys let alone girls.
I desperately wanted to be “in lurve”, with a man you know in a meaningful relationship, marriage on the horizon, house in Fulham, bolt hole in the country, all mellow stone and wisteria, you get the picture.
That’s how I thought it should be, even though I never fitted that particular mould. For that I needed to be “sophisticated”, together, on the planet, normal. For that I needed to be in PR in Belgravia where all the “nice gels” go not as a lowly hack on a commercial property magazine stuck out in Woolwich. It’s no wonder by parents despaired of me ever getting a suitable boyfriend, let alone married.
There were times they tried to help me along. Some help was useful like getting the local Yorkshire builders down to renovate the flat I bought; I found out that they cost three times as much as my local Battersea builders would have done and on top of that I had to feed and water them as well as give up my bedroom. I slept on two chairs in the sitting room for a week. It was such a relief when they left!
Much of the help revolved round boys and trying to find me one. As the years passed I fear they got more and more desperate. And the lengths they went to more and more convoluted. I think they thought me far too independent and maybe felt that their help was not as appreciated as it should have been – I hate to say it but even if they had handed me one on a plate I wouldn’t have taken the bait.
Anyway there was one time they took me to a Society Wedding. He, the Groom, was in the Guards so frightfully, frightfully, glam and there were bound to be lot and lots of “rilly soopah” blokes for me to meet up with. They were so excited about it, especially my Mum, being that her own daughter had so far failed to provide the much needed glamour she craved despite living in London. How could I possibly tell my parents that this really wasn’t the best scenario for me?
I was excited by the prospect, don’t get me wrong. I mean all those fit young men in tight breeches, as I said I am not a lesbian.
But with depression you don’t think straight and you can be your own worst enemy. You are not exactly brimming with confidence either. So I get dolled up in my clumsy gawky way, which is difficult thing to do I can tell you for a plump person. I wore a, what was once, very chic navy blue woollen shift dress (from Marks & Spencer) an enormous navy blue straw hat, and extremely high black court shoes trying to be so very Holly Golightly. So very muich Breakfast at Tiffany's. And off we went.
The service was fine; I sat at the back.
But the reception, in a grand and exclusive London Club, well, let’s say my depression took over and I landed up being very peculiar indeed.
Somewhere I had read or heard that if you close your eyes people won’t notice you. I know, silly. It’s the kind of thing really little kids do when playing hide and seek. They close their eyes and believe that if they can’t see you, you can’t see them. It’s cute, for them, not quite so cute for a 28-year old…
So there I was going up the grand oak staircase, heaving with hats, navy blue and cream in dots being “de rigeur” when I decided that in order to be not noticed it would be a good idea if on the half landing I turned my back on the crowd and stared at the panelling; shutting my eyes if you will.
Quite why I wished to be ignored is beyond my understanding now but then I am sure it was perfectly logical to my depressed little brain. I suspect it had a lot to do with oh-my-god-look-at-me-now-i-look-hideous-and-i-don’t-want-anyone-to-notice-me-because-if-they-do-I-will-just-die-of-shame.
There were a lot of people clambering up the staircase and I think I became mesmerised by the oak grain in the panelling because it was quite some time before I realised that I was alone save for the polite waiter in white gloves who had just brought me out of my reverie with a very discrete cough.
I turned flame red and noted that there were a number of concerned faces peering at me from the doorway to the grand ballroom where the reception was being held. I have no idea how long they had been staring at me but it was obvious that my presence was required.
I shot forward forgetting I was on a half landing and tripped up the stairs sending my hat flying and painfully scraping my shin bones. I was mercifully picked up by the waiter and brushed down, given my hat and asked my name. At first I thought he was trying to chat me up and seeing that he was really quite dishy I obliged and was just starting to be flirtatious and ask his name when I was thrust in the ballroom with him bellowing my name to all and sundry. He wasn’t a waiter, he was the master of ceremonies and I was obviously the last guest for whom everyone was waiting.
There are times as I said when depression makes you your own worst enemy.
Laughing too loudly I made some excuse about my make-up and thrust out my hand hoping that my faux pas would go unnoticed but you know how it is suddenly everything is silent for a moment and you feel everyone’s attention is on you. I was very loud, very loud at getting the Bride’s name wrong and equally loud in trying to laugh it off.
I stood there like a lemon while the bridegroom said he must get off with his bride to sit down. I muttered yes of course wanting to die there and then but he just looked at me exasperated. I shuffled uneasily not knowing what to do. And then he lent forward.
“Get off the dress.”
“You are standing on my bride’s dress…”
I looked aghast at my feet and yes there they were on the Brides beautiful and clearly quite costly train.
I jumped off and was about to bend down to see if everything was alright when I was forcibly lifted up by the arm.
“Really it is quite all right why don’t you go and sit down now.”
I would have loved to I thought but I had no idea where I was meant to be! Luckily the Bride and Groom decided to get on with it and glided effortlessly to their table and everyone started to talk at once and I was able to scamper to the table chart to surreptitiously check where I was to be seated.
It was a good table. I was sat next to another depressive and contrary to expectation I really enjoyed myself especially after a few glasses of wine too many. It is quite scary how animated and loud two depressives can get as we shared symptoms and feelings. As we rattled on about Prozac and how awful it was to read the scare stories in the newspapers. We skirted round the bad stuff, but acknowledged to each other how difficult each other’s lives must be with no one to understand. And we got steadily more and more drunk forgetting in our nervousness that mixing alcohol with any medication is NOT a good thing at all. Especially with Prozac.
It acts like an accelerant, at least it did with me, and I was getting drunk really, really, quickly. Normally I would have had very little to drink but with the embarrassing standing-on-the-bride’s-dress episode and feeling completely at odds, I forgot. I wasn’t so drunk as to make a complete spectacle of myself but I did fall down and had to be helped into a taxi
That was the last time I remember my parents ever “helping” me to find a boyfriend…