August 7, 2013

SianPlease note: do not read this blog if you feel vulnerable to triggering issues

My close friends are all aware that I experience depression and anxiety but, for most of them, that is their limit: simply being aware. Coping, living, and dealing with someone with a mental illness must be desperately hard. I can only imagine how difficult I can be at times: completely wrapped up in depression and despondent to all those around me.

He was immediately accepting of the fact that I experience depression

That's why I'm so grateful for one of my closest friends. I met him this year. He was immediately accepting of the fact that I experience depression, reassuring me that if ever I needed someone to talk to, he would be there. When he said that, I gave an obligatory smile and thanked him – how many times I'd heard that promise, only to be let down.

Soon after, I descended into an episode of depression and ended up taking an overdose. Though I didn't do much physical damage, afterwards I felt very alone. I logged on to Facebook, desperate to talk to friends but also horribly self conscious about telling them what I'd done.

Some people didn't reply to my messages. But this friend did. Without any word of judgement he immediately offered to go to A&E with me, asking if I was OK and why I'd done it. Through all the distress I felt that night, my friend's ability to listen really grounded me.

I felt like somebody cared

The next week I returned to Uni. I didn't tell anyone what I'd done, or how I was feeling and, instead, sat through lessons in a lonely silence, feeling completely isolated from everyone else. When I bumped into my friend later, he looked pleased to see me and asked if I was OK. He never mentioned what we'd talked about at the weekend because he didn't have to. He knew the main thing was that I felt like somebody cared and that I knew that I could talk to him if I needed to.

This level of understanding and complete lack of judgement is such a gift. People are so quick to offer their support and help if it's ever needed but can so rarely cope with the heavy realities of mental illness. People who experience depression need to know that they are not alone and that they are allowed to reach out to others for comfort and support.

Tiny things like a hug can really reduce any sense of isolation

My friend has continued to support me this year and, the strange thing is, I don't think he realises how much he has helped me. If people were more aware of how such tiny things like a hug or saying hello can really reduce the sense of isolation someone feels, I think the world would be a happier place.

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