June 26, 2012

Girl walking along beach with 2 dogs | Time to Change blogsIt's hard to help people understand what’s going on inside your head when you have such a limited understanding of it yourself.

I have always tried to come up with analogies or examples to try and paint a picture for people when words fail me. I only have two people who truly understand how I feel when I’m at a low point; but that’s two more people than some people have.

I have always struggled to explain my illness to my friends. I even hate calling it an illness. To me it’s not worthy of any kind of recognition; anything that makes people feel worthless and unable to smile should not be given any more attention that it deserves.

But friends and family (if they’re good people) will want to get a handle on what’s buzzing around that brain of yours. At one point in my late teens, my depression manifested itself in an all-consuming cycle of ‘get ready to go out; psych oneself up so much that the prospect of social interaction makes you shake and feel sick; accept defeat, send the cancellation text and crawl back into the safety of one’s bed’.

Trying to explain this to my friends was hard, and has not gotten any easier

This carried on for quite a while, and still occurs now (far less frequently, thankfully). Trying to explain this to my friends was hard, and has not gotten any easier; luckily for me, the ones that were worth hanging on to stuck around and know it’s nothing personal when I fail to show up.

I did have to contend with a bit of teasing and several arguments

I did have to contend with a bit of teasing and several arguments with friends who tried to prescribe help. ‘Amateur shrinks, who do they think they are?’ I angrily mused as I once again batted away suggestions of counselling and doctors’ appointments.

One of the hardest things about depression is that it removes most if not all motivation, and it is all too easy to get stuck in a cycle which becomes increasingly difficult to get out of. I have lashed out at friends and family more times than I can accurately recall; it’s only on reading a fellow blogger’s story about writing as a means of coping with depression that I felt I should say something.

Don’t be mad at people when they don’t understand

Don’t be mad at people when they don’t understand. The fact that they have tried to understand is commendable in itself. And chances are they don’t see you as ‘that person with depression’. They see you as you; depression and all. And it’s the ‘all’ that you have to try and focus on. Because depression doesn’t, and shouldn’t, define you.

What do you think about the issues raised in this blog? Share your views with us on Twitter >>

Or pledge to share your experience of mental health today and find out how talking tackles discrimination.


Share your story

Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.