I’ve just read a superb play which painfully resonates with me. I found it, in parts, hard to read!

Bryony Kimmings and Tim Grayburn’s “Fake It ‘Til You Make It” is, in essense, a play about depression, what it is, what it is like to live with, from the view/standpoint of the sufferer, Tim, and his partner, Bryony. I’m pleased that the play comes at it from the perspective of the couple, not just Tim, who suffers from and with depression: family, loved ones, friends, work colleagues etc etc, lots of people live with depression indirectly, they are often dragged into the mire:

Georgie Harman, CEO ‘beyondblue’ [support organisation/charity for those suffering from and with depression, and for their families/loved ones] (writer of one of the two forewords): 

“Every person’s mental strength struggles, every suicide, has a ripple effect on partners, lovers, families, mates and work colleagues”

Although the couple obviously worked on the writing of the play together (obvious from what is written in the paperback of the play, before the actual play), Bryony is the professional writer/playwright. Tim HAD to be in on this, in on the writing and he had to play himself in the play: authenticity!

This play does what, I’m sure, BK and TG set out to do: the pathos is palpable. It is a hugely important work!

James Leadbitter, writer of one of the forewords:

“Depression can be brutally isolating, yet the act of reaching out and being touched is a vital tool to break down the stigma, but also to build mutual support. As Bob Hoskins says in the old BT adverts, ‘It’s good to talk’” (well said, JL!).

Geogie Harman:

“Our (beyondblue’s) core message is that strong men take action and ask for help. Strong men talk about their feelings with other strong men, their partner, and their doctor. Just as Tim did”:

that is the core message of the play, I think: too many men still don’t ‘get it’!

Tim (an ‘ordinary’ guy, likes “playing football, eating dinner out and having sex”) suffered, to all intents and purposes, in silence for 8 years:

“For those eight years I believed that my illness emasculated me. I bought into the idea that feeling sad, crying and doubting the purpose of existence made me LESS of a man, less of a person. 

I buried my depression so deeply that no one could see it. I used so much of my energy faking it that I just made myself worse.

…And I have had to conclude that it has to do with conditioning. That the true version of what it takes to be a real man was not in fact the ideal that I was sold. That any of us were.

I have realised that I don’t want this to continue to happen . For me…

A real man speaks about his emotions.

A real man is strong when he needs to be strong.

And a real man understands that there is no such thing as a ‘real man’.”

I referred above to the authenticity of the play: when I read it, it floored me! The senses of global community, those suffering with depression, I felt it – heck, I feel like I know Tim!

TG (in the ‘blurb’ in the paperback copy of the play, before the beginning of the play): “I was twenty-two when I woke up one morning and the tears just fell and I didn’t know why. I began a spiral into sadness. I couldn’t sleep… I just kept crying, I felt physically deflated and didn’t feel myself at all. After six months, I had my first suicidal thought…” 

To read an account of another person’s suffering, it breaks my heart!

TG, in the play: “I didn’t realize how, how dark, how dark it would get and how it would affect everyone around me. Err. I…I woke up one morning and tears just fell out of my face into my pillow…nothing bad had happened in the family, nothing bad really in particular in my life and I’m crying my eyes out at nine o’clock in the morning.

And it just got worse and worse as the days went on…

There was a tree when I was a kid that I used to play at and I used to stop there for like twenty minutes or so just staring at it and images of myself were just popping into my head of me hanging there…I would go home and think about where I’d get the rope from. How I’d do it…”

But just as much featured is BK’s suffering:

At one point in the play,

“She (BK) walks forward with him (TG) and looks up at him adoringly.

She tries to play badminton with the good luck doll he doesn’t hit back.

She walks along chatting away to him. No response. In fact he stops and stares out into the audience and she has to walk back and grab him”:

my wife and I have SO been there!!! She tells me (it’s all a blur for me) that our son, then 2 years old, would run up to me for a cuddle, so excited to see me: nothing, no response from me whatsoever. It kills me to think about it. I so nearly died and not only would he not have remembered me but if he had remembered me in any way, it would have been dreadful memories!

I dare say that my wife also had these thoughts:

BK: “…I couldn’t look at it (their bedroom window) after you’d said about it (TG thinking about hanging himself). I couldn’t even open it. I imagined, ooh I’m gonna cry now, I…ha-ha. (crying, voice trembling.) Like what would I do if I found you there? (Voice breaks.) and you were still alive, how would I get you down? How would I go get you?”

That’s hard for me to read; if I had been watching the play, I’m sure that I’d have been crying, big time!

Take it from someone who knows, this play is very real, it is, as I said, authentic. I hope that I, one day, get the chance to see it, with Bryony and Tim playing their parts or, if not them, another couple who come at the roles from positions of experience! 

I’m going to evangelise this play, take on an unofficial ambassadorial role. It is too important a play to just be a script in a draw!

Thank you, Bryony and Tim, for this play!

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