I have ummed and ahhed about putting this out there for a while now … what will people think? Will it impact negatively on my professional life, or with my professional relationships? In the workplace and/or within my business networks?
Will others think worse of me?
Then I think about how I’m trying to make a difference and to let people know they’re not alone and how I go on and on and on about how I’m an advocate for mental health, then realise the irony of my being too scared to talk about it and … well … my head goes around and around and … well, then the thing I want to say, but I’m not, because of the above, goes around and around with all the other talk, and gets louder and louder and then I have to say something.
Apologies for that ramble. One of the traits I’m so proud of is my insatiable desire to provide context, justification, and explanation.
Look, the thing is, I’m aware not everyone is going to like what follows and I want you all to know that I have considered this – you – in all of it.
I’d also like to preface it with “I’m okay”. Please don’t be concerned about my wellbeing, or worried that I’m not in a good place or anything. I’m okay. Really. I promise.
Depression … not much fun really. For anyone.
You know, feeling a bit sad and gloomy. A little emo. “Blue” as they say.
Issues with sleep – all or none.
Ditto re food – all the foods, or barely eating at all.
You’ve no doubt seen the checklist on one of many sites that provide facts sheets on what depression is. No disrespect at all to any of them. They do wonderfully, amazing things, with the extraordinarily restrictive support they get. Freaking awesome.
Can we be just a little more honest about it, please? Just, I dunno … say the things that are actually more fundamental to the issue of Depression.
Like, um, well those of you who follow blogs and other online varieties of mental health advocacy will have been privy to a few more home truths. I’ve written about some here. About how Depression is like a separate entity, an alien life form that lurks in and around your mind, piping up with its hateful, hurtful words from time to time. Sometimes unrelentingly.
It twists your thoughts and your words, sends you into spirals of self doubt and inadequacy, and, like my first few paragraphs hint at, a vicious cycle of thoughts and feelings that trap you, slowly debilitating then paralysing you from the inside … leaving your outside looking normal and acceptable.
Unhinged on the inside, unharmed on the outside.
Depression is … well, it lies, it manipulates, it twists your words, it causes you to say and do and behave in ways that are not particularly nice.
In fact, if Depression were say, a work colleague or in-law you don’t particularly, or random person on public transport whose behaviour your find a little abhorrent, you might go home to you spouse, or ring/message/text your besty and say “Urgh, it makes me so angry. Depression is a but of a cunt!”
I’m just going to pause for a moment, so the sounds of people huffing in outrage, clutching pearls, stomping off and slamming doors in their wake doesn’t drown out what’s next.
Just a few more moments whilst we wait for people to scroll down and tap away madly at their keyboards to inform me they don’t like “That word!” as though I care particularly about this.
Are they done? Finished smashing their keyboard and slamming doors?
All gone now?
If you’re still here and fuming about “that word” (cunt – that one, remember) could you please either bugger off, or just try to put it out of your mind? Ta.
Therein lies the problem with Depression. Any and all mental illnesses really. I can only speak personally about my experiences with Depression and Anxiety (another fun-filled activity for when I’m already overwhelmed), but I know it’s not an issue exclusive to these two forms of mental illness.
See, people have got all huffy and door-slammy and keyboard-thumpy over a word.
Meanwhile, there are lots of someones who are really struggling, some in really, really, really bad places that you can’t possibly begin to imagine unless you’ve:
a) been there yourself and
b) keen to reminisce and get back in touch with those feelings
It is a dark, horrible, and scary place.
Not, however, as bad as rude words, it seems.
Nor as bad as being snarky, or saying something hurtful to someone, or simply not being able to find the right words to be able to express … anything really, and just upsetting others.
I have, over the years, lost many friends whom I’ve considered good friends, because of my behaviour when I’m at my worst. I can’t say the words right, and then I overcompensate with trying to make things better. Because Depression has taken over my brain, the words don’t come out right, and the things I say just make things worse.
Even when I try to say I’m hurting, I need help, I need you, it all comes out so wrong … because that’s how Depression likes to function.
I say this to highlight the issue. Depression makes you do and say things that are confusing or hurtful, that are illogical or really annoying.
As a society, we don’t like people being rude to us. Or confusing or illogical or annoying.
What’s frustrating is, as a society, we also copy and paste status updates on Facebook about raising awareness of mental health, or tell others “there’s always someone there to listen”, or we complain about the lack of mental health care and support services available.
Yet when we reach out, albeit not very nicely, because, you know, Depression, suddenly, no one is there to listen.
No one is there to support, or to care, or to hold your hand whilst you’re being a bit of a shit to them. Or not much fun to be around.
When you can’t face the world and drop off the radar, people eventually give up trying to reach you.
You’re too hard.
You bring them down.
You’re not the person you used to be, so, see ya.
Depression is not very nice to anyone.
Not to the person who is experiencing it.
Not to those close to them.
Not to those not that close to them.
What the person with Depression needs is for people to look beyond the barely articulate sentences, and the persistent pushing away, and to not say “I am here” but for you to just be there.
What they need is for you to not lose your mind over a little four letter word slamming the door as you walk away, but to see beyond your self and, well, if you really have to use four letters of your own, ask R U OK?
It’s unlikely there’s going to be much you can say that will be of great benefit.
Sometimes, you don’t need to say anything it all.
Sometimes, there is nothing that can be said.
The best thing you can do is just be there, despite the aura of black, the negativity, and the lack of fun.
And especially despite the excessive tossing around of profanities that you don’t like.