Initially I kept my depression secret

RuthInitially I kept my depression secret, with only close family members knowing. I thought it was something I should be ashamed of and I blame the stigma around mental health for this. However, I am now proud to say I have depression and social anxiety because I know the troubles I have had on my journey to get where I am, yet I have still got here with mental health issues. I hope to inspire others with mental health to get out of the dark and be proud, since being honest my life has been much better.

Talking about mental health can be hard

Talking about mental health is something that is very hard for both the speaker and the listener. Awkwardness over comes faces, people don’t know how to react, sometimes people even look at me like I could be contagious. I think it is time people started to wake up to the concept of mental illness and realise the effect it has on people. I have felt ashamed of who I am for too long.

A core reason I believe that I felt ashamed is the way that people use mental health as a way to describe something as bad. I cannot count the times I have heard people say 'They’re just mad' or 'they're acting mental'. Depression is also used as something that can easily be cured, ‘don’t look so depressed’ etc. Recently I had a very restless night contemplating how I could ‘not be so depressed’. It resulted in me not taking my medication and trying to be ‘normal’. But what is normal? I like to think that I am more normal than people who say these comments that have such a lasting effect.

Having social anxiety means that it is very difficult to make and keep friends

Having social anxiety means that it is very difficult to make and keep friends. Often I have been called rude because sometimes I am quiet. I am seen as ignorant and stuck up because I don't always want to go out or dance in front of lots of people. Worst of all people have said that I am weird because I struggle to make eye contact with people. The question I have to all of these people though is, am I the rude one? My illness makes social situations unbelievably hard, sometimes I have panic attacks all day before a big event. So does it make me rude to want to sit and be quiet or perhaps leave early? Or does it not make me brave for going in the first place. I ask people to think before they speak in future, perhaps the person leaving early has a reason. On the other hand, I am now very lucky, I have an excellent group of friends who are very supportive of me, although it has been a very long and painful journey to get here!

I really hope that, one day, the world can be open enough to mental health so as not to shy away from people when they speak about their issues with mental health. I no longer want to have the awful look you get when you mention mental health. Even though to you it might not seem much, try to think before you call someone mad or mental in the future, it could mean a lot to them.

What do you think about the issues raised in this blog?

Share your views with us on Twitter >>

Or sign our pledge wall to show your support and find out how talking tackles mental health discrimination.


Comments

This is so true! I used to be

This is so true! I used to be unbelievably ashamed of my depression and thought it was my fault. Although I don't shout about it, I'm more open about telling people now if it does come up in conversation. Talking about mental health is the only way to get rid of the stigma!

Ruth rocks

Have to say I think it's a wonderful piece written so very well . I take my hat of to you. Xxxxxx

Good for you

Fabulous post Ruth. You can continue to feel proud of yourself, you are honest, compassionate, and inspiring. Best wishes x

Great article

Great piece written from the heart. I, too suffer from the same issues though I hide it well I talk about it too. I have lost many friends because they did not understand. Well done x

Absolutely echos my experience and views

I too have been called Stuck Up/Rude/Too Shy. Depression/Anxiety for those of us that suffer it, is part of us, but certainly does't define us. Those challenges we face, that cannot physically be seen and understood by others who are ignorant, are as real as any physically apparent illness and can be just as debilitating. With all the stigma attached to mental illness, it is not surprising that people suffer in silence and are ashamed to talk and ask for help. People wouldn't deprive someone of their heart medication or insulin, however perpetuating the stigma around mental health does exactly that, it prevents people from accessing the talking therapies and medication that can be so beneficial. Lovely to read your post.

I am one who suffers from an

I am one who suffers from an extreme case of depression, PTSD, and anxiety. I told one friend about my my problems and it completely backfired. This lead to me internalizing all my emotions, and to many nights left in agonizing pain and emotional suffering. I'm wondering, from one depressed person to another is it worth it to tell friends? None of them them even have the slightest idea that I am mentally I'll. But I feel that I need to tell them.

"you don't look depressed"...

....this phrase has also caused me to question my feelings on many occasions! It is a relief to me that I am not the only person who has wondered whether I should be taking medication after receiving such comments. Actually, I AM quite an upbeat person, who just happens to suffer from depression which made my childhood and adolescence extremely difficult and which, many times during my adult life, has led me to spend hours in bed, removed my drive to interact with others and has driven me on many occasions to contemplate suicide. Part of what I find difficult is the fact that reported experiences of depression differ greatly, as do my own experiences of the illness (if indeed, in my case, it is an illness...I question this often). Although I can tick off my symptoms on any number of medical checklists, they are subjective; at the end of the day without any way of testing for clinical depression, I'll never be certain whether or not it's actually what is 'up' with me! I do not have a formal psychiatric diagnosis, other than being told I suffer from depression by a GP (I have received two years of therapy on the NHS) but I was told by a mental health worker that I'd avoided a "stigmatising diagnosis", a comment that I felt itself perpetuated the stigma of mental illness!! Like you, I've just had to ignore others' perceptions of me: I know I do not, at the moment, function well without medication; I know that my mood has caused me a lot of pain throughout my life and has significantly altered the course of my life. I personally find it very hard to talk about mental health - both mine and other people's. I have found myself, on occasion, either in a kind of verbal 'battle' over who has suffered the most or trying to claw back the feeling of 'normality' after I have confessed that I'm going through a rough time. However, I do feel it's VERY important to carry on talking about it and I will make sure that I continue to do so! Time to Change are doing an excellent job in helping to normalise such discussions. Their work has helped me enormously; I wrote a blog that was published back in August last year and I can honestly say that posting it on Facebook was the most positive and life changing thing I've ever done. I no longer feel like I'm living a double life. Well done, Ruth, for taking the steps to be so open and to trust your subjective emotional experiences. Good luck for the future!

Initially I kept my depression secret

Great to read that others experience what I do. I have been incredibly depressed over the last few years but feel I have suffered from it for many years. I too can suffer immensely from socila phobia and anxiety, so I can relate thoroughly to those who write these articles. Not acknowledging mental health in this country is shameful. I think there are many people out there that haven't necessarily reached the dephts of despair through mental health and there do not understand what it entails.

Attitude of large businesses to Mental Illness

I believe it is time for major corporates to take a course in Mental Illness awareness. I work for a large UK Bank. I had a breakdown a year ago caused by extreme stress and fatigue and have been suffering acute anxiety and severe depression since. My employers have conspired with their medical advisers (another house hold name advertising daily on TV) to categorise my condition as Situational Work Place issues. This leaves me without any financial support and having to make a choice between resigning, being sacked or returning before I have recovered sufficiently to cope. This despite the actual examining doctor (3 times) and my GP stating categorically that I suffer from severe depression. Even my solicitor gets the blanked reply "we have made our position clear and will not review." They are doing this to someone with nearly 40 years loyal service, only 3 years to go to normal retirement and at a time when they are about to announce many thousands more job reductions in the business. Their position amounts to little more than bullying, because they can !!

Add new comment

Email updates

Keep up to date with all our news, information and events via email.

Media centre

Guidelines and contacts for all those who work in the media.

Resources

Download leaflets, posters, reports and our free magazine.

Need support?

If you need urgent support there are many places to go for help.