|You weren't 'alf right Elt!|
There’s nothing quite like the immortal words ‘I have depression’ to piss all over a conversation (although ‘I used to be a man’ might do it) and there will always be someone (friend/family or stranger) who upon hearing this news who will bolt for the hills like Seabiscuit.
Lets face it though, there’s so many misconceptions and misunderstandings attached to depression and mental illness its no wonder sufferers don’t tell anyone what they’re going through. And crap as it is, there will always be people who jump ship as soon as you bring the subject up.
Depression, like Enrique Iglesias’ mole, is something we all know is there, but a thing we just never acknowledge. With 9% * of us in the UK suffering from the big ‘D’ and an estimated 450million people worldwide who will suffer from a mental health disorder at some point in their lives, you’d think we’d all be talking about it a bit more, but it seems the less we do the more it gains the enigmatic mystery illness status that people avoid talking about and have trouble understanding.
So why am I discussing my own depression on here -a blog about coeliacs and baking- you might ask (and Christ knows I have asked myself the same question!) and I have to be honest and say although its beyond hard for me to share (I’d have an easier time giving up an eyeball), let alone talk about with anyone, I think above all else I suppose I wanted to set an example that depression can happen to anyone, that anyone can get lumped with it, even the most unlikely of people (not that I’m necessarily unlikely mind). I wanted to show that depression doesn’t mean you’re insane (however bonkers you can appear-like me) or thats its similar to feeling ‘a bit blue’ like you would on a bad hair/big arse day.
But it’s not laying in bed all day listening to the Titanic soundtrack with a face like a slapped arse crying into your pillow. It encompasses symptoms beyond feeling sad, being low and not being yourself, the particulars of which I hope you’ll understand I won’t be talking about in this post.
I can attest that admitting you have depression can be as difficult as having it, and trying to explain it to someone who hasn’t experienced it (whether having it or dealing with someone who has) can be a bigger ball-ache than teaching a German Shepherd Steven Hawkings A Brief History of time.
In the almost ten years that I have suffered with depression I’ve seen varied reactions from the people I’ve told, from a friend who looked at me with a look of astonishment that one as bonkers as me was prowling the streets and not locked up in a padded room, another who asked ‘couldn’t you just snap out of it?’ as if it hadn’t occurred to me that if I shook my head hard enough, rang Jim’ll fix it or get Harry Potter to wave his wand the problem would go away, to the people who ‘get it’ and understand.
Looking back its fairly easy to map a pattern in my depression over the years because it tends to rear its head in times of my life that have been hard, sad or stressful.
This time the finger points at the culprit of The Other Bowel Problems (what the ruddy nora else,eh?) slowly zapping my confidence and self esteem which (queue violins) has left me feeling depressed, anxious and isolated.
In the past I’ve had counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and various anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs. This time around I’ve tried to steer away from the medication since I already take enough tablets to rattle like a Maraca.
I’m not going to lie…in the past depression has made me do and say things that I’m ashamed of. It made me selfish and my life became as insular as a test tube and I never stopped to think how it was affecting my family and friends.
I was the Regina George of depression; a grade A Queen Bitch and I look back now and cringe. Time and hindsight has given me the luxury of perhaps dealing with my depression a bit better, not necessarily getting over it any easier but defiantly working through it with a more level head then I perhaps had when I was 19.
The Other Bowel Problems (we’re going to have an entire strings section by the end of this) have stripped me of my formally outgoing, bubbly personality and gobshite mouth and ability to chat all sorts of shit to anyone that I came into contact with.
With all the stress of TOBP’s, my mum always says I’d be forgiven for being depression. But I will always think of my depression as a weakness and a failing on my part.
I always regard anyone who suffers from depression and can acknowledge it openly in much higher esteem, then I would ever afford myself. And while I have mega respect for anyone who talks about his or her depression openly, when it comes to discussing my own it feels disgustingly self-indulgent.
I know that when my bowel problems get better that my depression won’t suddenly disappear and that I’ll probably have to work as hard to get better mentally as I did to get well physically.
But I’ve come to think of it like this:
My depression is a room that I wanted painted yellow, but the decorators have come in and painted it black instead, and although I don’t and will never love it, I’m learning to live with it.
Thanks to Skye and Chris.
For more information, help or advice on depression and any other mental health problems contact Mind, Mental Health Foundation, Sane, and The Samaritans.
*Stats taken from the Mental Health Foundation, http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/