When I was expecting our second baby I wanted to be as prepared as possible for the arrival of the Black Dog post-birth. For nine months I kept a daily journal listing the things that had brought me pleasure that day so that I could generate a list of things to do when the baby arrived to boost my mood. Today I came across that list, and right at the top was Visit A Gallery Or Museum. I remembered the hours I spent pushing the pram round Kelvingrove Art Gallery And Museum and The Burrell Collection and realised that it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to try that again. Today, since Number Two is no longer so happy to be wheeled around but loves anything with wheels on I decided to go to The Riverside Museum of Transport. I wasn’t exactly expecting to enjoy it – I am less excited about things that go than mini-Walker – but it was pouring anyway and I figured at least it got us out of the house.
Here’s a strange thing: when I am depressed I become much more aware of light and colour. I crave gentle illumination and certain shades. When I was first diagnosed – desolate, desperate and clinging onto the flicker of a will to live – Christmas was just round the corner and I remember being deeply comforted by all the fairy lights strung across the city streets. We bought beautiful glass lights for the tree that year and on really bad days sometimes I would lie on the floor just gazing at the lights by the baby’s side. Later I longed for a particular shade of yellow – the colour of sunflowers, wheat fields and egg yolks rather than a sharp citrus. In subsequent depressions it has been a soft sea-green, especially paired with creamy off-white. I read once that Van Gogh, when in the grip of depression, would become obsessed with a particular yellow paint – even on one occasion eating it – and I think I can understand what was driving him. Today’s visit didn’t kindle a love of vehicles but the gleaming paintwork on curved bonnets and magnificent steam trains spoke to the light and colour-hungry part of me and I found ambling round with my toddler strangely soothing. In fact, just going at toddler pace was lovely too – exploring, following our curiosity rather than focussing on a goal and driving ourselves to reach it. I need to take time out to ‘waste’ like this more often.