I find it incredible, the reactions I receive from some folk after I have written about depression or shared posts about depression on my Facebook page.
For the most part, friends or loved ones might mention, the next time they see me, that they read it and ask how I am doing. Nothing huge. No big deal. Just a gentle reminder that they care for me.
Some might say nothing at all- and that is perfectly OK too as they might not have anything to say about it, or might just not know what to say. But they acknowledge it in other ways through simple acts of kindness.
Some might be uncomfortable letting me know that they read my blog, which I understand.
Very occasionally, I find a small number of people change.They may be hostile or passive aggressive- I don’t know what airing my depression triggers in them. Embarrassment? Are they embarrassed that someone else might read or know about it? About me? Some may post on Facebook about how people should just get on with it or how we all choose to create our own happiness. The folk who react like this are minuscule (and of course they may actually not be reacting to me, because, I know it’s not all about me), but I need to be clear when I say this:
I don’t care for attention. I don’t care for pity. Let me tell you now, I would much rather FEEL the happiness and joy that is in my head.
And although I cannot always FEEL my joy and although, sometimes, there is a chemical cloud suffocating my joy, I will never stop talking about it.
Because there are people out there who suffer in silence. People who have depression and don’t even realise they have depression. People who end up causing serious harm to themselves at this time of year. People who commit suicide just to get away from the pain that many people simply cannot fathom to exist. But it does.
Why do I risk being seen as a person looking for attention, or airing their dirty laundry or simply not behaving the way you want me to behave?
Because I CARE about those suffering in silence. I want them to know they are not alone. I want them to know that although I may not be capable of empathising with the depths their depression takes them, I can say to them that they are not alone, that it is nothing to be ashamed of and that even if there are a few incredibly stubbornly ignorant people out there who seem to think depression is something you choose, I understand.
And I have hope. I have hope that one day people will feel brave enough to own it, and find ways to pull themselves out of the gutter or to even just survive while they are down there. I have hope that one day people who have never experienced depression will see it as yet another physical illness- because it is.
It is physical. It is debilitating. It is the loneliest place you will ever find yourself. It is the worst pain. The pain you can’t escape. The kind of pain that makes you wish for death.
Depression is NOT a choice.
It’s the cards you’ve been dealt.
And I have no problem exposing all that is flawed within me to the world.
I am more than that, though. Much more. But those things aren’t as important to talk about.
Nobody suffers being a good mother. Nobody suffers being a caring, empathic person. Nobody suffers being good craic. Nobody suffers being accepting of others. That is not suffering.
I don’t need to tell the world how fucking amazing I am and I sure as hell am not going to lie.
I need to speak to those suffering in silence from a physical disease, in a world that seems to think it’s a ‘makey-uppy’ excuse for feeling a bit sad.
Depression is a debilitating illness that has serious consequences if it continues to be brushed under the carpet with ‘You’ll be grand’ or ‘Sure aren’t we all a bit down sometimes, and don’t we all just get on with it’.
So, if you have found this post and it is relevant to you I implore you to please not take offense. I implore you to hear me. I implore you to not respond to a depressive with a suck it up, or a lecture on choosing happiness. If you don’t know what to say because you don’t understand it, you can stay silent, you know?
Or you could just be honest and say:
I really don’t understand depression, but it sounds really awful. You really don’t deserve that and I hope you get better soon. (Optional) Is there anything I can do to help?
Watch this: (Many thanks to Emily in comments for this recommended watching) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw