My journey with mental health goes back a long way. I was first diagnosed with depression at 13, severe depression at 15 and since then the diagnosis changed to bipolar and now to what I believe is the correct diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder. In case you have never heard of bipolar it is a combination of bipolar and schizophrenia. As you can see all the diagnosis have had depression as a part of the illness.
I also want to say that I see no shame or stigma in having a mental health issue. I cannot separate myself from my mental health any more successfully than I could separate ownership of my skin. It is just part of who I am. Do I love it? No. Do I want it? No. I have to live with it the same as I have to live with my height, eye colour or skin colour. I think mental health is like heart health. By this I mean we all have a heart but not all of us have heart health issues in the same way that we all have mental health not all of us have mental health issues.WHAT IS DEPRESSION TO ME?
Well, this is a tricky question because each person that suffers from this insidious illness will describe it differently. The way that I describe it is like a thick black fog. This fog is devoid of light, hope, peace, joy, love. It is like a blackness that descends on me without warning. There is no cause for it. So many times well meaning friends will ask me, what caused my depression. These people live in a world of cause and effect. I guess it could be called the world of equal and opposite reactions. With my depression this is not the case because it is like someone just flicks a switch from light to darkness and back again. My depression can last an hour or two, ten hours, ten days, in fact, there is no way of knowing how long it will last. I get completely overwhelmed by it. There are times that I cannot get out of bed let along out of the house. When I am in the grip of this black fog I give up caring and life. Yes, you can be disabled by your depression that is why I keep saying “Not Every Disability Is Visible”.
DEPRESSION Vs SADNESS or UNHAPPINESS
On of the things that really gets to me is when I hear people who don’t have depression say they are feeling depressed when what they are feeling is unhappy or sad. Depression is made of many things it is not just feeling blue. Within depression there is: fear, anxiety, self hate or loathing, sadness, anxiety, panic and a blackness that is just indescribable. There are so many emotions and thoughts flooding over me. It is like being in an ocean of emotion and not being able to stand up against the waves that pound me. It is not just a matter of cheer up or don’t worry it may never happen because it already is happening. If you are just feeling blue or unhappy or sad please don’t say you are depressed because that is like saying you have a brain tumour when all you have is a headache!
I don’t know if I have helped anyone understand depression or even aided the cause of those who suffer from this terrible illness and that is what it is and illness. I don’t think that I am anyone special or that I have all the answers because the more I live with this illness the more it baffles me. I just hope that I have helped you have a better conversation with someone who is suffering from depression. If you are the one who suffers I hope this may help you open up to those around you. The more we talk the more we end the stigma.
If you are feeling like you want to self harm please see your doctor (G.P.) and they will refer you to other mental health professionals. You can also call Lifeline on 13 11 14 if you live in Australia.