Today's post is a difficult one for me, and I've ummed and ahhed about posting it... after all, this place is mostly about the light and fluffy. But the reality is, I was diagnosed with depression recently. I had depression as a teenager, but as I knew it could, the depression has come back with vengeance. Most days I feel ashamed and weak. Shouldn't I be strong enough to keep it at bay? It's a struggle to remember the brain, just like the rest of the body, gets sick, and depression and anxiety are often the signs that you have been strong for too long. You have weathered too much without allowing yourself a break and you keep pretending you're okay because you feel you have to be.
Why am I posting about this? Because I want people to realise it can happen to anyone, and you're not alone. A lot of the time, people say stupid stuff like, ‘get over it’, ‘pull your socks up’, ‘stop being a baby’, 'think happy thoughts instead', 'there are people with real problems' because they can't see the illness. A lot of the time, depression gets treated like it’s a choice, a self-indulgent laziness. Depression is not a choice. Depression is an illness. It affects the way you function: your ability to make decisions, to sleep, to eat, to get up, to do your job, to study, to engage in relationships with people, to enjoy the things you’re passionate about. While it's a mental illness, it has real medical implications on your health - depression is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, it interrupts sleep patterns, affects your appetite and gastrointestinal system, and lowers your pain threshold. It is pervasive.
For someone who has never had depression, it can be hard to understand what daily life is like. From the outside, someone with depression or anxiety can seem fine. After all, most people with depression are still 'functioning'. But even though you can smile and laugh, it’s hollow. You find yourself putting on a mask, trying desperately not to let people see how fragile you are. You begin to wonder why it’s happening to you. Nothing justifies the crying, or why you’re so angry at everything. Sometimes, your head feels like it is sponging up misery from every stupid, failed, embarrassing moment in your life. It sucks them up and spits them on replay. “Hey you, yeah you, its your brain here, you are a failure. Let’s revisit those particular dark moments in HD so you can reflect on it. Oh, and just so you know, you are so alone. Forever. No one loves you. You should just give up.”
That voice, telling you those things, becomes a worm, digging holes through your defenses, in your self-esteem, in your values, into your achievements. It makes you cry, a lot, or, if you're unlucky, you skip that and go straight on to the numb feeling. The numb feeling is worse. You start bumping around your days like an out-of-control dodgem car, tossed between all these people going in nice, orderly circles. You don't get the point anymore. Why would you bother doing anything?
It's a painful way to exist. If you know someone with depression, treat them gently. Just because they want to get better, doesn't mean it disappears in five seconds; often, depression has an underlying cause that needs to be treated and is part of a chemical reaction in the brain that takes time to sort itself out.
To be clear... I am getting treatment, and I know things will improve over the coming months. If you suffer from depression too, please, get help. It can seem scary to go to the doctor and ask for help, but I promise once done, you will be a step closer to enjoying life. See a psych, put strategies in place to ensure you can live your life, ask for help from those around you, or call a counselling service.
Really simply, you're worth it, even if you don't feel it.
Love WTP x
P.S. Don't worry, next post I'll try and do something pretty/happy. Pretty/happy is the best.