As I’m sat writing this, I’m crying my eyes out. My eyes are swollen. I’m not coping with things at the moment.
And that’s a common thought I have that comes and goes in waves. I actually haven’t had it for a while – I’d kinda blocked it out for ages and thought I was getting better. The thing is, you don’t just get better from depression. Sure, you can learn to manage it better. You can’t just snap out of it and wake up and be happy. It doesn’t work like that.
I just want to get it straight – I’m not writing this for sympathy. I’m just trying to explain how it feels to live with your brain constantly fighting you. It’s really hard to explain what it’s like living with depression. Some days I’m fine and I can go about my day and stay as positive as possible. In fact, being positive and upbeat for others is something I find easy as pie.
But when it’s bad, it’s bad. I’ve cried to my GP. I’ve sat in car parks thinking of ways I can stop myself waking up the next day. I’ve pushed away people I love. I knew it was really bad when my usually quiet and completely oblivious to anything dad asked me why I was sad all the time. I told him nothing and went to my bedroom, I didn’t leave for about 12 hours, but that’s not relevant to my blog post.
The only way I can explain what it’s like is being stuck in a pit that you can’t get out of. No matter how much you try and scramble out, you’re pulled back in. Everything that worries or upsets you is in the pit with you. It’s tiring. A lot of people compare it to drowning, with no one to save you. You get the gist.
Obviously I’m not in a pit. I’m sat in my house on a laptop, perfectly fine and nowhere near anywhere I’d need to climb out of. But because of my mental health, I don’t want to be seen. It’s hard to be invisible. I make up excuses not to see friends. I try and think of ways to call in sick so I can just stay in bed all day away from people. I constantly think about everything I've ‘failed’ at in my life. But somehow I manage to prise myself out of bed and get to work and throw my energy into something else, pretending I’m ok.
I am embarrassed of how I feel. It’s not normal. It’s not ok. People sometimes look at me like I’m weird. People have told me I’m making it up. Maybe I am? I dunno.
Maybe you know someone with depression. Maybe you see them every day at work. Maybe it’s a friend. Maybe it’s a family member. Anyway, that person you’re thinking of? All they want is someone to be patient with them.
Show them they aren’t weird. Tell them they have support wherever they need it. Don’t make them feel guilty if they don’t feel like leaving the house, but don’t let them trap themselves in bed either. Support them when they say they are going to speak to a doctor or nurse about their feelings. Let them talk. Let them cry. Not talking about mental health makes the problem worse; essentially society has made it that the isolated feel more so by making it difficult to talk about or just brushing the whole thing under the carpet. You think the world is more accepting of mental health problems until you actually have them and are told you’re making it up. How many times have you told someone to snap out of their bad mood, not knowing why they are in it? There you go.
I am sad tonight but I have friends and family to support me. I’ve spoken to health care professionals. I am going to be ok, and I am lucky in that sense. All I ask is that you support me, and support those around you feeling depressed or crippled with anxiety. They haven’t made it up.
Living with depression, or anxiety or bipolar or whatever it may be, is lonely and scary. If you can do one thing to help someone feeling that way, it’s just be their friend. A person with depression doesn’t want, or expect, you to understand their feelings. They just want support and love. They don’t realise how much they need you until they start to feel better. Let them talk to you. Let them talk it out. Shit, you probably don’t want to hear what’s going to come out of their mouth but maybe once they’ve voiced their feelings they will process it better. Talking about and addressing the problem, is the first step to solving it. It’s a simple gesture, and it can be the difference between someone hiding away or getting out of bed and facing the day.