The word depression doesn’t nearly do it justice. That one word doesn’t even touch the sides. So I’ve been sat here racking my brains for a word that could. Nope, not one single word could fully describe what we call “Depression”.
How about “It’s like having an asthma attack that you can’t escape from, breath is no longer reachable and with each desperate gasp for air you pray that death is imminent rather than endure this suffering”
How about “It’s like a million ants crawling inside your skin, eating away at every single fibre of you, until you are left physically scarred from trying to rid yourself”
How about “It’s like being chased by a crazed killer in a maze that gets smaller and smaller with no way out and the realisation of nothingness and hopelessness hits you so hard that you collapse and surrender”
For those of you that suffer from depression are we getting close? Nope! Didn’t think so. Its Impossible to describe to someone that has never felt this, that indescribable feeling of what I will just refer to for ease, as absolute hell!
It’s not just being a bit sad, it’s not. It’s not just wanting to shut yourself off for a few days. It’s not just crying into a tub of Ben and Jerry’s either. It’s so much more than those things, its more than what we as a society give thought to and it’s more than we ourselves as individuals care to acknowledge. It can be all those things above yes, but it is also much much more.
For me, it’s nothingness. For me, it’s being awake at 4am because that’s the only time I can breathe easy, when the world is quiet, or being asleep at 13:00pm because that’s the only time I find salvation from my own mind.
For me it’s getting up and going to work, fake smiling and having uneventful and un meaningful conversations just because, but it’s also staying in bed all day because I can’t face the world for another minute.
For me, it’s mania and hyper vigilance for no reason at all. Or sadness and fear for the same reasons, there aren’t any.
But mostly for me, it is the feeling of merely existing and not living. Letting each minute of each hour of each day pass me by wondering what the purpose is and how to get off this gut churning ride.
I’m writing this blog after a long time of silence because I went to a counsellor recently. She sat there and asked me “what makes me happy?” Through misty, red rimmed eyes I looked at her and without taking a breath I answered ” I can’t remember a time I ever was happy, so I don’t know the answer to your question” I’ve done nothing but think about that conversation since the day I left her office trying to think of one single thing that made me truly happy that wasn’t tainted and lasted longer then a snapshot, and still one month on I am none the wiser.
So, I’m writing this because I think it’s fair to share what having depression truly feels like and highlight that more needs to be done by everyone to help stop people from suffering in silence. Mental health crises is increasing by the minute and if we don’t start listening to eachother and making access to early help our mission then the statistics below are only going to erupt.
I have googled the shit out of this subject, so here are some facts for ya
- Depression is the predominant mental health problem worldwide.
- Reports from both England and Wales suggest that approximately 1 in 8 adults with a mental health problem are currently receiving treatment. Medication is reported as the most common type of treatment for a mental health problem. And the average wait for effective treatment is 10 years!
- In 2016 64.7 million anti-depressant prescriptions were dispensed!
- For every person affected by mental illness, just £8 is spent on research – 22 times less than cancer and 14 times less than dementia.
- Suicide is the number one killer for young people experiencing mental health crisis. In 2016, 5,668 suicides were recorded in Great Britain. Of these, 75% were male and 25% were female.
- Untreated mental health problems account for 13% of the total global burden of disease. It is projected that, by 2030, mental health problems (particularly depression) will be the leading cause of mortality and morbidity globally.
Got your attention? Shocking isn’t it.
Number two is the nauseating one for me. Still in the year 2018. Only 1 in 8 people are being treated! Medication shoved at them like a packet of sweets, as if that’s the answer. That’s why it takes 10 years for EFFECTIVE treatment, because just medication in isolation is never the answer! When will we learn!
I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve been to the doctors and had pills thrust at me and told to go on my way. The amount of times I’ve gone back to say they aren’t working to just be placed on a different brand. And it sticks in my throat to tell you about the time I sat sobbing in my kitchen for my 8 year old to come and say to me “Mum shall I get you one of those pills that can make you happy again” Really?, as if taking a tiny pill is going to magically take away what’s inside my head, it only masks it. Helps me cope from day to day, helps me get up in the morning and merely function. Exist. Not live.
I don’t want my daughter to grow up thinking there are magic pills that can take away the sadness, I want my daughter to know that whatever problems she faces, whatever hell her mind brings, she will always have someone to talk to, to be there, to help, to listen. That’s what I needed, someone to listen. Not my family, not my friends, a professional to help me unpick all that is inside of me and help me breathe again. A magic pill will never change that unless I deal with the actual problem and not just the symptoms.
Mental health is a topic that means alot to me because it is something I have watched destroy members of my family. It’s something that has been prevalent throughout my own life personally and with the people I work with. It has had me driving in the night wondering if I should steer my car into a tree and it is something which has completely broken me this year. That being said I have been reading this book my sister recommended by Matt Haig. ~Reasons to stay alive. (Check it out) It’s made me understand that I am not the only person who is suffering from this and that talking about it is the start to getting better.
“If you have ever believed a depressive wants to be happy, you are wrong. They could not care less about the luxury of happiness. They just want to feel an absence of pain. To escape a mind on fire, where thoughts blaze and smoke like old possessions lost to arson. To be normal. Or, as normal is impossible, to be empty. And the only way I could be empty was to stop living. One minus one is zero. But actually, it wasn’t easy. The weird thing about depression is that, even though you might have more suicidal thoughts, the fear of death remains the same. The only difference is that the pain of life has rapidly increased. So when you hear about someone killing themselves it’s important to know that death wasn’t any less scary for them. It wasn’t a ‘choice’ in the moral sense. To be moralistic about it is to misunderstand.
I stood there for a while. Summoning the courage to die, and then summoning the courage to live. To be. Not to be. Then I realised I had people to love, who loved me. Love was trapping me here. I think life always provides reasons to not die, if we listen hard enough. Those reasons can stem from the past – the people who raised us, maybe, or friends or lovers – or from the future – the possibilities we would be switching off. And so I kept living.”
Powerful huh. Reading this man’s thoughts on depression has already changed the way I view life. To know that he is a survivor, writing his story gives me a small hope that I can get through, one day at a time. He was right, words sometimes can set you free. And so I keep living…
So the point of this post is to say
Please be aware that many people suffer mental illness, particularly depression and we might never know because it is a largely hidden illness. The things you say, the actions you take towards another human being may seem like they won’t cause much affect but they do. Believe me they do. To one person they could change everything for better or for worse.
So be kind, be smart, think and don’t judge. Support mental health and raise awareness. Stop the stigma!
And for anyone that can resonate with the words on this page remember that you are never too lost to be saved;