Depression feels like a really annoying family member that never really goes away.
You think you’re rid of it for a while and then it comes knocking back on your front door, totally uninvited and when you least expect it.
Then there are two thoughts that cross your mind.
1. What did I do to mess up, where did I go wrong? Is this my fault? Did I miss a tablet?
2. Why am I so ungrateful. There’s literally nothing wrong in my life?
Someone wise said to me recently, “when you feel down, remember your bad day is someone else’s good day.” The thing is. I work so hard for my mental health I feel like I’ve failed when it goes wrong.
Years of counselling, tablets daily, mindfulness, trying to be healthy, surrounding myself with friends. So when I feel down I sometimes don’t know how to escape it.
And then there’s the fact that it’s so embarrassing to tell people. They think you’re strange and you have to hide. That makes it worse too. Your depression makes you sub-human, outcast, judged, not normal.
So you triple check everything – especially your tablets – and try to fix yourself.
The thing is mental illnesses like depression aren’t visible. So they’re easy to dismiss – out of sight and out of mind.
But I’m working hard to view it in a different way. I have a diagnosed illness.
If I had diabetes I’d medicate and openly talk about my illness.
So I’m viewing it as exactly that. When I feel down it’s because my serotonin levels are low. And it’s just that my illness has flared up. Sometimes there’s a reason, sometimes there’s not.
It’s not my fault.
In fact none of it is my fault. I’m not weak or pathetic. I’m strong because I have a really hard to deal with illness and I solider on as best I can.
I don’t use it as an excuse and I don’t let it impact my life in ways I could. I force myself to do things when in reality I could stay in bed for days.
I don’t ever do that. I acknowledge it. I deal with it. And I don’t let it control me completely.
And for that I should feel proud.
I find this time of year particularly tough. I know a lot of people do. My best friend said to me, “remember how you got through it last time.” And that’s all you need to do.
Accept it, acknowledge it and work with it as best you can. Don’t feel ashamed, you’re extra brave, because you don’t let it control you all the time.