Guest Blogger: David Parkin on putting yourself back together again

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Meet my pal Dave. You can ask him how we met, or I could tell you. Chances are we’d both get it sort of wrong because we probably don’t really remember. I mean it was months ago. Best I recall, he somehow found my blog. Or someone else re-blogged something of his the same day they re-blogged something of mine, so I went to see what his was about. Or something.

I started devouring his memoir, which he posts on his blog in snippets. The writing isn’t linear. But I suppose emerging from a coma with no idea how you got injured must be sort of a non-linear experience. He can transport you through his moments of hilarious euphoria and devastation amazingly fluidly.

I got really intrigued by Dave’s pre-brain injury work in comedy and improvisation and then started watching pieces of his current show about clinical depression called “Good Friday.” He recently did a great tour in England of “Good Friday.” I read a couple published reviews.

And then I wondered to myself whether the reviewers knew he had a brain injury as well. Did that even matter? Should it change the reviews? Should people without a brain injury or without depression be allowed to write reviews of artists with both? I ask myself a lot of questions, and they don’t get answered. So then, I went ahead and asked Dave.

Here is Dave’s video response to my question. I really appreciate that he focused on the experience of the audience, not the reviewers. They are the ones he is performing for, after all. The video is transcribed below.

“Hello. My name’s David Parkin. I do two pieces of work that Cheryl’s interested in. One is a sort of show where I play songs about recovering from depression. And I talk about it. The other is I’m writing a memoir about recovering from a brain injury.

And the question that was raised was do I think either of these things is sort of appropriate or worthy to people who haven’t been there. And I would reply yes, absolutely. OK, so they do offer solace to people who’ve been there. But I mean for me the big things was putting yourself back together after both of these things. And when I was doing that, in both of the cases, I was struck by a need to write about it. Part therapy, yes. But mainly because I saw what had happened to me as a very sort of profound thing, in both cases.

Putting yourself together after a mental breakdown is challenging, but you have to re-evaluate life and re-evaluate who you are and find your place again. And that can be very challenging but also incredibly rewarding. And also the same with brain injury.

I forgot how to do everything. For instance, one time in hospital, I went to give someone a round of applause. He just walked. And I went like this. I couldn’t clap. And I taught myself how to clap again. And I taught myself how to walk, with help. Speak properly. Everything.

Learning how to swim again was one of the most beautiful things that has ever happened to me.

And especially with the brain injury, and with both, I figured if I can do that, I can do anything. If I can teach myself how to poo again, I can do anything.

That is why I think it’s worth talking about it with people who’ve been there but also with people who haven’t. Because both cases teaches us about what it is to be human.

And that’s me, David Parkin. Check out my website: “After the Fall” is the memoir about brain injury, and “Good Friday” is the show about depression.

Thank you very much for listening.