My first episode of major depression was when I was thirteen and in my first term at boarding school. I don’t very often think about it in much depth, and since my last two years there were mostly positive, I don’t feel particularly twisted up about it as a whole. Anyway, I suspect that for the majority of us school years were mixed at best, so I don’t need a special pity party just for me.
But over the last couple of months, I have been prompted to revisit some old haunts. It began when I read a novel called Prep, by Curtis Sittenfeld, about an American boarding school (Sweet Valley High, as written by George Elliot, according to one critic). The day after I finished it, I ran into a girl from my boarding house on a farm in Cornwall. Then a week later, I met the headmaster who had taken over after my headmaster retired. And had a friend from school to stay for the night. Yesterday Charis emptied out a bookshelf, and my GCSE revision cards fell out of King Lear.
Sometimes walking right into the middle of a frightening place is the best way to cope with it. It’s not that I have realised that it was all much easier than I had remembered- it was genuinely bleak- but neither are those memories so dreadful that I need to organise my mind around avoiding them.
What is your philosophy? Move on and forget, or try to reconcile yourself to your past and live alongside it?