We’ve all felt a bit tired…a bit run down…a bit teary. Some days it can feel as though everything’s out to make us walk around so stressed we’ve got a permanent Deirdre Barlow neck. Just for a minute, imagine being so tired the thought of getting out of bed seems incomprehensible. Imagine now, being at work on the brink of tears and unable to concentrate on anything, You go to eat lunch, but don’t have an appetite. You don’t want to have to talk to anyone because the thought alone wears you out and even the simplest, most mundane tasks make you feel as though life’s just out to get you. You’re sad. Really, really sad. And if you’re not feeling sad, you’re feeling nothing.
Now imagine being completely confused as to why you feel like that and plucking up the courage to tell someone…
For them to reply with;
“Oh come on, YOU’RE ALRIGHT! What have you got to be sad about?!”
Depression can honestly make you feel as though you’re dragging your body through a swamp…and the worst things is, as much as you want to snap out of it, you have absolutely no idea what the bloody hell’s wrong with you or how to solve it. Mental health problems are illnesses…and that’s essentially what some people need to get their heads around. It’s not a lifestyle choice. People don’t wake up one morning and think, “Fuck it, do you know what? I want to feel terrible. Honestly, terrible. Actually, I don’t want to be able to feel anything…so I’ll give depression a whirl.” It creeps up, like a thick film of smoke and engulfs you ’til you’re only going through life because you have to.
I’m lucky enough not to have suffered myself, but depression and other mental health problems have played a part in my life (which I go into below), and thankfully, it’s becoming OK to talk about it without the fear of being labelled as a nutter.
And that’s BRILLIANT.
Obviously medication and therapy play a huge role in helping sufferers get back to feeling themselves again, but sometimes, just the opportunity to be able to talk can make a person feel that little bit better and stop the problem getting any worse. Sufferers can already feel completely isolated and in a permanent state of paranoia without having friends and colleagues reinforcing it. With one in four people falling victim to it at some point in their lives, it makes so much sense for it to no longer be a taboo subject…I know I’d be grateful if someone was willing to listen to me.
If anyone asks me about my childhood, there aren’t enough positive adjectives I could use. I knew I was loved, I had fun and I come from a family where we genuinely all get along as people…not just because we have to.
Running alongside that, until the age of fourteen when my parents separated I also grew up living in a household with someone who had a schizoaffective disorder. This meant a pretty idyllic upbringing was punctuated with bouts of violence, mood swings, depression and erratic, irrational behaviour.
My mum offered (and still offers) stability and a sense of normality. She made my siblings and I very aware that certain behaviour wasn’t acceptable and that we were to talk to her if we felt anxious or scared…while also making sure she supported her husband as best she could. How SHE didn’t downward spiral into a pit of doom I don’t know. I seem to remember her eating a lot of chocolate spread straight from the jar and listening to The Archers, so maybe that helped.
As a child, I made sure not to mention anything that happened at home to my friends. In fairness, I thought it was pretty sensible not to want to go to parties in case anyone drinking alcohol got angry…I thought it made sense to plan what you could use as a weapon in your room if you ever needed one and I thought shaking every time I heard ‘Gangster’s Paradise’ was normal (still not sure why, presume something must have happened while that was playing).
Obviously, as I grew up and the family dynamics changed due to the divorce, I knew that we’d been through some pretty tough and often unusual events. The person in question is now a lot different, he finally got the medication and help he needed and in turn we’ve got a reasonably good relationship, I accept he’s the way he is because essentially, it’s not his fault…and from what I can see, there’s been a vast improvement in his health.
We’re all very complex. The fact that at some point we might find life a struggle makes total sense to me. Some people will always have problems, some just need a reason to be happy again…
Go for a walk, be kind to someone, get happy.