Depression is a strange beast. The black dog.
The illness that you are ashamed of, although shouldn't be. The thing you don't talk about. The thing that you shield from others. The thing that you deny to yourself, until you cannot deny it. The thing that is a stigma. The supposed "fake illness". A joke.
Today is World Mental Health Day. Today, more than any other, is the day that those suffering from depression and anxiety should not be afraid of speaking out. IT IS OK TO SAY THAT YOU ARE NOT FINE.
If I have made any progress in the last fifteen years of having depression and more recently, anxiety, it is to say that I am starting to realise that it is ok to admit how you feel.
I am lucky. I do not have debilitating depression. I can function day to day. My depression comes, and it goes. Well, when I say that, what I mean is that it is manageable. It is the social friendly version. The kind that I can function with in day to day life, without falling apart in public.
^ See. Look at me. Even in this blog I find it hard not to sell my feelings as "Don't worry. I can still function as a human being. My illness will not affect you".
My anxiety can be debilitating. But yet again, I hide it. Like with my depression, it is something that is not seen in my professional life, something that only a few people whom I care about, know about. I have been more honest in this blog about how I feel that to any person in "real life".
That is so wrong.
So do I feel? Really? What is being like this, for me, really like? In honesty.
It is spending six months of my life last year in tears at work; whilst simultaneously hiding it from my boss. It is having a wonderful day, and then at the end of it, realising how strange it feels to actually feel happy; and then realising just how few of those days I have. It is your heart hurting, not from physical pain, but your soul crying; for reasons you do not know.
It is looking way back at the first two years, when it all first started and wondering how the hell you survived when so many days; you did not want to go on. When pain was preferable to the sadness you felt.
I have come a long way, I still have a long way to go. I feel scared about what the future holds. I wonder if I will ever meet someone as a partner that will put up with me when my depression comes to call.
But that is the problem isn't it? Depression should not be a stigma. Something that we have to hide. Something that we deny and try to deal with behind closed doors.
I am not fine. I doubt that I ever really will be. I have dealt with that. There are millions of others, just like me. We should not have to hide. Our depression is part of us, but is no way all of us.
We are not fine. But that is ok. We are allowed to feel this way and should not, ever not, cater our mental health to other people's comfort levels. We are not whinging. We cannot just think that it is lovely day and cheer up. We do not choose to feel this way and believe me, if you had ever felt it, you would not choose it either.
Men's Health Forum
Mental Health Foundation
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