World Mental Health Day: Depression

Thursday, 10 October 2013

It seems criminal to not write about mental health on world mental health day so here goes, the first of three short posts dedicated to various depression related things.

Depressed is one of those words that is overused and not truly understood by so many rather like the words love, hate, starving etc.  You love your child yet you really like ice cream.  You may hate homophobia, yet you only really dislike Brussel sprouts.  You're probably not starving and hopefully never have been you're just rather hungry.  See where I'm going with this?  How many times have you heard people dramatically declare 'Oh I'm so depressed today' the chances are if someone says this then they're one of the incredibly lucky people to have never actually experienced depression.  They may have had a shit day or two, they may jolly well be a little sad yet they're not actually depressed and it's highly likely that within hours or maybe a day or two they're not even a little sad anymore let alone despondent.  It's because of the throwaway nature of the word and it's misuse that there is so much stigma and misunderstanding surrounding depression.

Depressed isn't an adjective, it's a serious health condition.  It's not fashionable nor is it as transient as people believe.  Depression doesn't merely taint your day a little grey for an hour, it paints it black and within that blackness it attempts to destroy you.  You can't see out and nobody can see in.  You're screaming without a voice. You're drowning yet people just see you waving.

There doesn't have to be a reason for depression.  Often it's resultant of an incident or trauma in ones life and can with help be overcome through addressing the reasons behind it. A few lucky people genuinely can overcome it eventually and move on.

Then there's the other type.  It's just faulty chemistry.  It feels like your brain is faulty and wired up wrong.  Nothing happened.  There is no event to come to terms with. There is no reason nor cause.  It's just inside you, a parasite that feeds upon your very soul until you're unsure as to what is you and what is the depression.  It controls you as it devours you.  It's spiky black and angry.  It's fiery and vicious.  It's a thick grey smog that you can't see through.  It's the bleached out nothingness that expands within you.

It would be great to just be able to pull your socks up, to get over it, to stop wallowing, to move on.  You have no idea how much we would love for that to happen; for it to be that easy.  To be that simple.

It's like a carnivorous tumour that you can't cut out as it's entwined around your entire being.

Even if you have depression yourself, you can empathise with another yet you can't ever truly understand it nor them understand your depression.  Everyone's depression is a unique beast that manifests and torments in different ways.

Yet, it won't rain all the time.

So should you see someone who suffers from clinical depression smile or laugh.  Don't think them cured.  Don't use it to trivialise their depression.  Sometimes we laugh or smile because we have to, it doesn't mean we feel it just means we recognise it's the desired or appropriate reaction.  Sometimes it's the only way to stop ourselves crying.  Sometimes it's merely a short respite as the world lightens from black to shades of grey and we're making the most of it whilst we can, treading water until that proverbial hand snatches around our ankle and pulls us under again to drown.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post.
    I'm all for talking about mental illness as much as possible but when it comes to depression, I don't believe that anybody can truly understand the illness unless they've experienced it.
    I've been at both ends of mental illness - carer and then sufferer.
    I agree that people use the word 'depressed' a little too easily. And I admit that it gets to me sometimes because I find it insulting to those who have.
    I was depressed every moment of every day. I smiled, I laughed but they were just actions. The smile never reached my eyes but to the outside world, there is seemingly nothing wrong. I went on auto-pilot. I existed but I stopped living reaching the stage where I stopped feeling anything at all. I was numb. For someone who by default is sensitive - to feel nothing is to be lost...
    That's depression and it's an illness. Many people won't know what it feels like to be depressed but they should really educate themselves to know the difference.
    And I agree that everybody's experience is unique to them. Depression is not a one size fits all. It's personal. x


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