10 October 2017

Things I know about depression: World Mental Health Day 2018

There are some things I know about living with depression.

And so I should. We've been living together for a long time.

I didn't know I lived with depression of course when I was younger - I just thought I sucked at life. I dabbled in self harm, gave a decent shot at self destructive behaviours, and I wholeheartedly believed all the things my brain was telling me about my self-worth - things I'd absorbed growing up that had become my internal truths despite external contradictions.

I have lived with the incessant babble of my brain, and the overwhelming cacophony of a mind constantly at war with it self, for most of my life. These are some of the things I now know.

  1. I know that people don't think I'm depressed because I'm not lying in bed, crying all the time. Don't get me wrong, there's an element of that sometimes. But trust me, I can be sitting at a table with you, chatting about life and laughing at your jokes, and still be thinking that me dying would make the world a better place. I live with depression 24/7, 365 days a year. My medication and my clinical psych keep me in check. Without those - I'm in free-fall. I learned that the hard way.
  2. I know that there is no logic in depression. If I could stop being depressed and feeling the way I do, don't you think I would? Of course I know that I am much luckier than a lot of people. Of course I know that people go through far worse without becoming depressed. I KNOW that. And I can assure you I feel guilt and shame about living with depression for those reasons without you pointing it out to me. 
  3. I know that there are no words to explain the hopelessness and dread which consume you living with depression. It's a constant, throb in your chest, it's an ache in your bones, it's a gauzy bandage over your brain keeping everything fuzzy.  It's an effort. And trying to explain it when you are overwhelmed by those feelings makes them seem trivial, minor, and insignificant. Which makes you feel worse because you can see that the people you are speaking to don't get it, unless they've lived it. There is nothing more soul destroying than trying to explain something people don't get.  Ask any maths teacher. 
  4. I know that depression doesn't just affect me. It affects my partner, my children, my relationships, my friendships, my parenting style, my business, and my physical health. This means that you try really hard sometimes to pretend you're okay even when you're not, because 'normal' seems a nice world to live in. 
  5. I know that people think that you're 'fine' because that bit where you wanted to die so badly a year or so ago has passed and the fact you're still not 'sorted' is incredibly frustrating to them. It's frustrating to me too, trust me, I'm trying. 
  6. I know that people think they know what my triggers are. And I appreciate those that don't try to fix me, and I appreciate the ones that do. The thing is, if there was something tangible to fix, I'd do it myself - trust me on this. Different things impact at different times. I recognise this. I really do.
  7. I know that people find the fact that I can be so frank about my depression disconcerting. The thing is, I don't lack self awareness or resilience. But never acknowledging it means that I internalise all of the 'stuff'.  And then the line between what is my truth and what is my depression fades away and the world just seems unbearable. Plus, if she who 'apparently' talks too much can't talk about it, who is going to? If sharing my diagnoses makes it easier for even ONE other person to articulate their own struggles than that is the silver lining in this shitty storm.
  8. I know when my lifestyle choices are not the best for my illness, and I know when my lifestyle choices are very good for me. Sometimes making the right choices doesn't change anything despite me wanting them to be the 'fix', and then on the flip side, sometimes I just don't give a fuck. I just want to switch off. 
  9. I know that some people don't "believe" in depression or mental health as a bona-fide illness. Like climate change deniers, anti-vaxers and racists - you can just fuck off. Your belief systems don't change the science. 
  10. I know that my depression is not all of me. It's a very real part of me, like anybody that lives with an illness either short term or long term can attest. But it's part of what makes me, me. Living with depression is frequently the lens through which I view the world and sometimes, it acts as CCTV for every arsehole I encounter in a day. BUT more frequently it shines a spotlight on the kindness of others and the really great things that are going on in the world, despite all the tomfuckery.  
  11. And last, but not least, I know that no amount of David Wolfe memes make any impact on my mental health. So please stop sharing his quackery and bullshit. 

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