I’ve decided it’s time for an honest blog. Not that my others aren’t honest, but of course I hold things back. I want to make it clear though, that I’m not looking for sympathy here. It’s just that depression is a part of my life – often a bigger part than I’d wish – and to know me, you need to know about it.
One of the reasons I haven’t written about it yet is that I am so far away from home, and I know my family worries about me. I don’t want to make them feel bad – and that’s why a lot of people with depression don’t tell anyone about it, because they don’t want to make anyone else upset. It’s bad enough that one person has to feel miserable, and with all the feelings of guilt that often accompany this mental illness, the last thing anyone experiencing it wants is to cause other people any more stress.
The worst thing about that, of course, is that the more you talk about it, the easier it is to deal with. Hiding it makes everything worse. More than anything else, it’s tiring and a lot of hard work to keep it to yourself. Putting on a cheery face and trying to act like everything’s okay is draining. Sharing the pain seems like a pretty nasty thing to do, but it helps more than I can explain.
I believe we need to talk about mental illness. I know western society has come a long way in the last few decades, but it’s still a taboo subject, and it shouldn’t be. Depression is just another illness. Like other illnesses, some people are predisposed to it. Some people who have it live a lifestyle that invites it or makes it worse. Others live the same way and never suffer. Some people get it despite doing all the ‘right’ things to avoid it. It can be life-threatening, and it can be treated.
Emotionally, it’s easier to talk about it when you’re not in the middle of it. But sometimes, the middle is the only time it seems pressing enough.
It’s a sensation of being lost, apathetic, unfeeling. But there’s also pain and a deep sadness that can’t be shaken no matter how aware you are that people love you and care about you. There’s guilt, and stress and uncertainty. The inability to make decisions; a sense of loss and sorrow, not just for yourself, but the whole world. Despair, without hope for the future. You see the down side of everything. When it settles around me I feel as though I’m actually losing my mind – I can’t remember anything, I can’t focus, I doubt my own thoughts and convictions. And I feel as though I’ve lost myself, and I won’t ever find me again. I might still smile at people, joke, and even laugh, but it’s empty; I feel like a shell with nothing inside, and that sense of who I am, and what I know and think and believe – it’s all gone and can’t be retrieved.
What I need when it happens is for people to be as they usually are. If they treat me with extra kindness, I just feel guilty. If they pity me, I feel worse. I need to continue working even if I can’t do everything I usually do, because it gives me a sense of normalcy, and stops me from feeling completely useless. I need people to know what’s happening to me, and to accept it.
There’s so much more to say, but in the interests of not losing too many people’s attention, I’ll leave it here.
I only wish there was a way of making people talk about depression and other . Too many people suffer alone. I’m lucky not to be one of them.
This post is dedicated to everyone in my life who has been affected by depression, especially to those who felt there was no way out but death, and to those left behind.
“There is never a better time to keep going than at the moment when you most want to give up”
Two books I particularly like on this subject:
- I had a Black Dog: His name was Depression by Matthew Johnstone
- Living with a Black Dog: How to take care of someone with depression while looking after yourself by Matthew and Ainsley Johnstone