Depression, stigma and needing people to be by your side

Warning, some readers may find this post triggering

I have depression and anxiety. I have had suicidal thoughts for the past year and I self-harm. But I am still here.

I had a friend who supported me

At the moment, I am struggling. Words simply cannot describe the intense pain, despair and hopelessness I feel during these periods of 'darkness' - like I'm screaming on the inside and fighting for every breath. I become a paradox - unable to think clearly yet acutely aware of every thought, restless yet paralyzing tired, desperate to be alone but hoping someone will talk to me, not wanting to live another day but terrified of death...

It's hard, really hard. The one thing I'm finding harder than anything though is the stigma, ignorance and frustration being lobbed at me from certain people who are supposed to be my friends. A year ago I was in a similar state - surrounded by darkness and unable to see an end to my suffering that didn't involve suicide. I had a friend who supported me and held my hand and believed in my future even though I insisted there wasn't one.

Today that same friend ignores my texts

Today that same friend ignores my texts and blames me for my illness. I'm told that if I wanted to get better and change I would; that only I have the power to change how I feel and improve my life; that there is no point talking to her because there's nothing she can do to help. I feel sad - firstly because her words imply depression is a choice and I am choosing to stay unhappy and secondly because it feels like a huge rejection.

Though I have made a conscious effort to try and avoid talking to her about how I feel, at my worst the words just come tumbling out. I admit to self-harming and not wanting to live and feeling alone. Each time I am filled with remorse because I am so ashamed at having to admit even after a year of therapies and medications I am not better yet. I also hate worrying people or putting them in an awkward or uncomfortable position. I have apologized time and time again for both these things, even though I know it isn't my fault and that I am ill. But essentially I am frightened and desperate for somebody to listen to me - I don't know where to turn to or what to do next and I miss having the support and compassion they showed a year ago. The hardest part is that I have few others to turn to.

Just be there for them when they need you

I wanted to write this blog for anyone who is struggling to deal with a friend or relative with mental health issues. We know you don't have the answers and you can't make it better. We aren't asking for help in the form of an action plan or solutions. We don't care about you saying the wrong thing or not saying anything. Honestly, we just want someone to listen when we need to talk and to not judge when we mess up. Just be there for them when they need you. I know it must be so frustrating to see them suffer,but we need you, really we do.

Fortunately I do have another person to turn to at the moment who is beyond kind, patient and understanding, and for that I am thankful. So I keep on living and keep trying to recover. One day depression will let me go, and I will be a far more compassionate and empathetic person because of it.

A poem to end - a response to anyone who trivializes or underestimates how difficult it is to live with severe depression:

Your Words

Your words
Were darts laced with cyanide
Their target my poison riddled mind

Your words
Were the sharpest of knives
Cutting into my already scarred skin

Your words
Were the strongest of punches
Shattering my already broken heart

Your words
Crept into my muscles
Causing them to cramp and ache

Your words
Managed to extinguish
The only light in the darkest of caves

Your words
Were just words
Not meant to hurt me, but

Your words
Were unbearably painful
And they refuse to stop haunting me.

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Comments

Bravery

Lana S my heart goes out to you. I have PTSD,GAD and Depression, no one can truly understand what it is like unless they have experienced it. It is easy for people to say "just get over it" but you are right it is not a choice we made. Every day you are being brave, and I am glad that you have a friend to turn to. I send you this message to tell you that, although I am a stranger, I understand and you are not alone. This blog is so important, we need people to realise that Mental Illness is exactly that, an illness. I wish you all the luck in the world in your recovery, with the right help it will get better xxx

Dear Lana,

Dear Lana, I understand.There are many millions of people who do and very many of us have recovered or found a way of dealing with depression.One day at a time,one hour at a time if it helps,just keep putting one foot in front of the other.You are never alone even in your darkest moments,There will always be others in those places too.Hold fast to your friend and do every kindness you can for someone else.It will eventually pass and you will emerge able to reach out to others in the same predicament.Believe me,you will. With love.Anna

Friends/partners and depression

Having been treated for depression five years ago and seen the effect it had on me and then, sometime later, been told by my patient other half just what it was like to live with, I can understand, albeit at one remove, the position that the partners and friends of people with depression are in. Two things I most appreciated - afterwards, not really at the time because I was suffering from a mental illness caused depression - were keeping the support mechanisms going; food in the house, washing done and the like as I really wasn't capable of looking after myself at the standards to which normal, mentally well balanced, people including me when not depressed take as routine: and challenging my negative thoughts; not in a confrontational way, just exposing me to another point of view, another way of viewing the situation. For a friend instead of a partner this may mean keeping in touch, making the running with the friendship for an indefinite period, putting up with the absence of initiative and lending a hand without expectation of reward when they can see a hand is needed. It's also important for a partner or friend to keep in mind that this is your problem, not theirs. You have to get yourself out of this; no matter how much they want to, they can't pull you out. They can make sure that everything's ready for you once you come back to the land of the mentally normal, but you have to get there yourself. They can try finding out more about your therapy if they want to - you probably aren't the best person to ask about this - and they can start to appreciate the journey you're embarked upon. And if they're a true friend, they should stick with it. Their part in helping you get well might not be appreciated for a while, but they should know that it will be appreciated. It might be appreciated already, but it's in the nature of depression that you can't really say what you need to, to those who matter most to you. It's a hard road to walk, recovering from depression, and it's just as hard for those who love you because they can't walk it with you. But they can help shoulder the burden, and when you get to a better place you can tell them how much it meant. It's a hard road, but it does have an end. Best wishes with your journey and your recovery.

Thank you for sharing

You've managed to put down in words how you feel, that's something I struggle to do. I have been on & off so many different type of drugs and been sent to therapy to try and overcome my illness. I've been depressed for as long as I can remember and I'm getting bored of it now. My BDD impacts every part of my life, so much so, some days I can't even leave my bed. I try and remind myself that life is a precious thing, but like yourself, sometimes this pain is too much. I really hope you manage to get through this, I'm starting to see a light through the darkness. Thank you so much for sharing. Cheryl x

Thank you

Thank you so much for sharing such a painful experience. You are very brave. I had a similar experience happen with a friend. It's upsetting and difficult to understand and painful but I think it shows who really understands and knows you. I'm glad you have others you can turn to, although there are fewer people who support you, these are truly special people who just get it with no judgment. Invest in those friendships for they are rich and true. Sending good thoughts to you. Things will get better for you, it just takes time and talking about it really helps. Keep going :)

Made me feel I wasn't alone...

I had to comment on your Blog, you see I'm going through the same kind of thing. I understand and empathise with every word you wrote and it made me cry to know it's not just me...Even though people think your better you just become better at hiding it. Stay strong, believe in yourself and never ever give up xxx

depression

I have depression or should say I have a lot of anxiety as well and not a lot of people understand so I no what u feel I wish we all could get together us that do suffer to share and support so I will always look on here for support

Your poem

I can totally relate. When reading your poem it took me back to my teens and what I wish I could have articulated when my mum just didn't get it.

Be patient with yourself

You words were great and is very corageous of you to write about how you feel. I am a psychologist and I suffered with panic disorder for many years. Unfortunatelly, people still don't see the mind as part of the body and it is difficult for them to understand that the mind too can become ill. I am happy to know you are taking care of yourself and has professional help. Becoming better can take longer than we expect, but just be patient and compassionate with yourself. You are getting there!! And you are not alone!

Bravery indeed

you are truelly a fighter and very brave , i also suffer the same and have had therapy for about a year now and have had my ups and downs , at the moment its a down time and im truelly fighting to just live for the hour , i feel ashamed off myself that therapy is not at this moment working and believe that its all me doing this but i at this moment am scared it seems of everything , you are a wonderful person and i thank you for your blog xxx

Day by day

This expresses how I feel today. I want it to stop.

Life struggles

I have also struggled and have PTSD And anxiety. Right now it's through the roof. I have struggled for 30 + years can relate so so closely to the story above. It made me cry I learned crying is helpful to wash the pain out. Talking relieved the resin an slows the mind from racing " Keep going forward is all I can muster today. Although tomorrow is anew blessing I will e Thankful for." This is my saying to myself I offer as a reminder life goes on and we can/have as well. Stay strong believe an lean on those you can to carry you through.

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