Sunday, 10 September 2017

The Realities of Depression


No doubt if you've been on Twitter over the past few days you'll have seen the delightful tweets of a Big Brother reject.  I'm not even going to mention their name or link to any of their social media accounts because what they've been saying is the biggest cry for attention I've ever seen in my life that I'm not willing to give them, however, their comments have still beyond angered me, and after a bad week battling my own mental health, it was the last thing I needed to read on Friday morning.

Without going into too much detail, this persons comments went along the lines of "Depression isn't real", "Depression is an excuse for weak people to not make changes in their life for the better", and "You're not depressed, you're sad and lazy; move on and make a change", amongst many, many other comments.

I gave myself a couple of days to compose myself because, had I written this post up when I first read these comments it would have been a tangled, angry mess of words that made no sense, however, now I feel ready to share my thoughts on the realities of depression, taking the focus away from somebody who's just trying to get 15 minutes of fame with their own toxic thoughts.  I don't want this to be a post fuelled by the anger I felt yesterday, but more of an educational one, from the mind of somebody who has and does suffer with depression and anxiety.

Now, imagine having to fight your own mind every single day.  Whilst you're trying to go about your day, whether that be as simple as running your every day errands, to working your way up the career ladder; imagine doing those things whilst literally battling your own mind.  Whilst you're trying to tell yourself that you can smash today, your mind is telling you otherwise.  Reminding you of how worthless and pathetic you are.  Asking you why you've even bothered getting out of bed?  Everybody else's day will be better if you're not in it.  Yet you still make it through that day.  Somehow, you still smash that work meeting, you still boss at being an amazing parent, or you still get through all of those errands that in fact, you could quite happily have forgotten about.  Does that sound lazy to you?  To me, that sounds like somebody working double time.

The thing is, none of us knows just how many of us are out there fighting that fight with our own minds every day.  It's not visible, and it's not something many of us want to broadcast to the world on a day to day basis.  Many of us who suffer with depression just want to go about our day like everybody else, and be treated like a normal person like everybody else, no matter how far from normal we actually feel on the inside.  So we get up, we put our warrior paint on, and we get on with it.  That's how many people with depression function, and they're the strongest people I know for being able to fight that fight every. damn. day.

Also, can we get something straight?  Depression and unhappiness are not the same thing. Yes, the two cross over, however, they do not come hand in hand.  Unhappiness is a human emotion.  Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.  I know many, many people (Including a close family member.) who are very happy and content with their lives.  They have a good job, loving marriage, are financially stable, and are happy with their lives as a whole, and on the most part this is projected in how they carry themselves, but when those chemicals in their brain decide otherwise, they can plummet into depression.  One second they can be happily going about their day to day life, and the next their head is convincing them that they need to jump out of a window and end it all now.  That is an illness, that is not a circumstance of choices they have made in their life.

I view depression as being a separate entity to myself.  What I mean by this is that if you take away the depression and anxiety, I'm quite a happy person.  I've faced a lot of hardships throughout my 30 short years on this planet, but never once have I used that as an excuse to be a victim.  In fact, facing the things I have, and that I continue to has helped me to stay motivated and driven to build a happy, stable life.  It's a long, hard journey, but one I'm happy to work for.  I create opportunities for myself and make sure I have plenty of happy memories to look back on, and on the most part I succeed with my intentions in life.  Generally I'm ok and can go about my days just as anybody who doesn't suffer with depression (Although the past few years have been much more of a battle for me.).  Some days I feel almost normal.  Then some days the depression rears it's ugly head and takes over.  Sometimes I win the battle, sometimes I don't, and those days can be truly horrific.

The best way I can describe how it feels to me is to imagine a box.  When depression has decided to settle in my head, it tries to keep me inside the box by sitting on it.  Some days when it's doing this, I fight it and I win.  Instead I can lock depression in the box and go about my days like I would any other normal day, but from time to time it wins.  It sits on the box and no matter how hard I fight I can't get out.  I feel completely and utterly trapped inside of my own head, and on those days I can barely function.  Only people who suffer with depression as well can truly understand how debilitating it can be.

To say that people seeking help from professionals shows just how weak they are is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard in my life, and for anybody who's heard comments similar to this, this could not be further from the truth.  I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety back in 2013.  Stepping foot through the GP that first time and admitting I needed help was single handedly the scariest thing I've ever done.  In my head I'd failed myself.  I believed what this person has been saying on Twitter.  I thought I was weak for not being able to fix myself, but do you know what?  Since I've sought help, admitted to myself that yes, I do have a mental illness, and am happy to freely talk about it to people, I'm in so much of a better place than I was when I was trying to hide my mess of a head to the world.  All I was doing was making myself more and more ill.

Think of it this way.  Would you leave a broken leg to try and heal itself?  No.  So why would you leave your brain, the most important muscle in your body, to try and heal itself?

There are so many people who are still hiding away from their own mental illness because of this kind of toxic stigma that is still around now, in 2017.  Now I look back, I know for a fact that I've suffered with my mental health since I was at least 17 years old, and had I known what I do now, I would absolutely have sought help when I was younger.  It sure as hell would have helped my 20's run a little more smoothly!

I understand that unless you've suffered with depression or anxiety, or any other mental illness for that matter yourself, it's incredibly hard to put yourself in the position of somebody who does suffer.  However, that doesn't mean it's not real, or a 'fake' illness.  Having never suffered from Cancer I could never put myself in the position of somebody who has, but that doesn't mean I don't think it's real!  Same goes for depression, the only difference is that often with depression, you can't see any physical affects of the illness because the sufferer is usually more concerned about hiding it from the world, and can you blame them when there are still people out there who make them feel like less of a person, just because they can't wrap their small minded brain around an internal illness?

Despite your feelings on depression, if anybody ever reaches out to you, be a decent human being and help them.  Whether that be a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold when they make that first big step through the door of their doctors, or being their to lift them up on a bad mental health day.  Be the person you would want that person to be for you if the tables were turned.
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2 comments

  1. What a well written and informative post. I have never suffered from depression but a few of my friends have so I know a little about how debilitating and intrusive it can be. Why on earth someone would make so light of it and try to belittle anyone that suffers with it is beyond me. xx

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    1. I haven't felt as angry as I did when I read those tweets in a long time! Mental health is a subject I feel hugely passionate about, and I want to bring as much understanding to mental illness as possible. It infuriates me that we're in 2017 and there is still such a huge stigma hanging over mental illness xx

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