November 5, 2012

Carol, a Time to Change bloggerI don't really know how long I have suffered with mental health issues, possibly as far back as I can remember. I was only diagnosed in 1984 by a brilliant GP who had taken an interest in my situation because his wife was a specialist in mental health.

This was the first time in my life that someone took my feelings seriously rather than telling me it was all in my head and to grow up. In reflection those people were right, it was all in my head, just not in the way they meant. So, I guess, I experienced discrimination from the very first time I ever told someone that I had had enough of life and just wanted to die.

Initially I was treated as an emotional teenager; that would make me an Emo, right? I was told I was being immature for my age, that I needed to grow up and stop feeling sorry for myself. I decided then that it would be better to put on a front and let everyone think that life was hunky dory. Actually, I was desperately unhappy, unable to understand the destructive feelings that I was experiencing and convinced that the world would be a much better place without me.

the other GP's... asked me what exactly I had got to be depressed about

Aside from the diagnosis in 1984, all the other GP's I approached told me it was all in my head or asked me what exactly I had got to be depressed about. These stigmatising points of view made me even less inclined to be open for fear of being ridiculed. I was referred for counselling once (by the 1984 GP) and that was an experience not to be repeated.

The young man arranged to visit me in my home as I was signed off work and unable to face going out. He turned up wearing his white uniform, I remember thinking of all the jokes about men in white coats coming to carry you off and lock you away.

When he had reduced me to tears he asked me what I was crying for

After finding out some background information about me, he started asking me about my parents, who I love dearly, and then it was as if he was taunting me; asking why I had to have my life approved by them. He then started to point the finger at them as being the cause of my depression. In conclusion, he was tearing apart my childhood and blaming my mum and dad for it. When he had reduced me to tears he asked me what I was crying for and to pull myself together. That was the first and last time I saw him, I refused any further counselling after that.

Over the years I have been ridiculed, taunted, put down and blamed for a character moulded by mental health issues. I have been advised not to tell anyone I have these issues, especially employers as I would never get a job. I have learnt to keep my feelings to myself, which has not always been that easy.

My family still judge me, explaining my quiet, withdrawn behaviour as me 'being away with the fairies'

I still fight with myself over my mental health issues as I can't understand why they dominate my life so much, why I can't just be 'happy’ and ‘normal' like everyone else. My family still judge me, explaining my quiet, withdrawn behaviour as me 'being away with the fairies'!

In fact, since my mum passed last year, I am treated as though I don't exist anymore and this just adds to the torment. Both of my children have blamed me for ruining their childhood by spending so much time locked in my bedroom during severe depressive bouts. I wish I could say that I have my mental health under control but I know that I don't. It still governs my life but I try to get on with it.

How is a person with mental health issues supposed to look?

I believe that the medical profession now respond more positively to mental health issues but it is still not seen as an illness in the sense that, say, diabetes and asthma are. I have been deemed to be 'cured' when I arrive at appointments with brushed hair, smart clothes, clean teeth and a clear diction. How is a person with mental health issues supposed to look? We may be in the 21st century but there is still a stigma attached to having a mental illness. Until this stigma has been removed and the myths about mental illness are busted, people like me will continue to hide behind a smile.

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Your blog

Firstly, let me say how glad I was to read your comments. Like you, I have been demeaned because I turn up to places looking smart - what they dont know is that I buy all of my clothes in one go from one online shop, so that everything coordinates well! Well done for being brave enough to speak out - I wish I was able to do so. My family do not understand either and now my son is showing depressive signs along with his OCD, its even harder. Recently I learnt that a patient with a physical illness has a legal right to treatment, but someone with a mental health issue has no such ridiculous and unfair is that? Anyway, keep smiling and keep blogging. Best wishes xx

Again reading your review, is

Again reading your review, is like so many people out there with mental health issues,me being one of them unique people.Yes I say were all unique as every one of us has issues of different kinds.The interesting part for me was about what we wear,my dress reflects the mood i am in and i must say scruffy outways the dressy.I try so hard to be normal everyday but in reality its like im playing show happy, similar to stories with good endings,but mine are fake,but I am a very good actress.Wishing you all the best your story has inspired me.

Thank You!

Hi Vicky, Thank you so much for your kind words about my blog and I am saddened to hear about the problems you experience. I can relate to the part about your son as both my children show signs of depression and one of them also suffers with OCD. It is very difficult in deed but all I can say to you is that there are people out there that can relate to you, me being one of them, and this site has really opened my eyes as to how many people have the same experiences, which has made me feel less isolated. It was also very empowering to put everything in to words and submit it to the site. It was very raw to start with as I felt I was stripping naked in public but I felt so much better for doing it and if it can help at least one person then it was well worth it, maybe you should give it a try? Take care and please don't ever think you are on your own! You keep smiling too ;o)) With love Lola

Your blog

Every copy letter from my specialist to my GP begins with a description of my dress. I just laugh now. I turned up in what I considered to be a very smart trendy outfit, for it to be descibed as casual dress! It certainly did not reflect the state of my mind. I am BiPolar and I must say that when I am really bad, I find it hard to dress at all let alone wash. But I have always managed to look presentable when attending appointments. Good luck with your depression.

What you write does resonate

What you write does resonate for me. When I was struggling for some sort of recognition, I often wondered what the benchmark was for "suffering enough" to warrant interest from medical professionals. The clinically depressed are some of the least likely to speak up for themselves and demand treatment, which is really unfortunate. I only started to see myself as being important and my illness as genuine when I began to recover. It is so hard to reach for that kind of strength when you are in the middle of an episode. The thing I am most sorry about is your experience of counselling, which sounds very traumatic. The one thing that helped me on my journey towards recovery was getting a decent therapist, who at times was like a lifeline helping me sort through some of the overpowering stuff I was experiencing. Just like any professional, there are excellent counsellors and not so good ones and even people, who despite being competent you just don't gel with. I'm sorry you have felt unable to try again.

I so hear you

I too am considered 'cured' because I turned up at my appointments on time and with brushed hair etc. Inside though it's like I'm dying.

How A Person With Depression Is Supposed To Look?

May I say well done for speaking out! I've had a lifetime of this illness. My doctor said, when I first told him of my problem, "Well, what do you expect me to do about it?" Ignorant beyond belief. Also dare to list depression or any other mental health problem as a health defect on an application form for a job? Think not. Employers are exceptionally ignorant when it comes to matters of the head/emotions! Have to be clear, focussed and robot-like in some cases! No room for flakiness. I knew someone who had a terrible time with his bosses trying to get time off because his son died, then his wife died and consequently he committed suicide. I had time off because of my struggle with this illness and had no sympathy. Just warnings and "Don't bring your personal issues into the workplace." & "We all have bad days, so pull yourself together or you're out." I think people have such a misconception of how depressives look. Sometimes I myself look unkempt and pale when feeling particularly bad, but most of the time I try to put on a front by making an effort to look presentable, but inside I'm crying.

appearance - 'looks normal' at the ATOS medical

I'm really fed up with people thinking that you have to look scruffy and rock backwards and forward if you have mental health problems. Also they think that you cant use an alarm clock, or basically learn anything. Insulting! Sometimes i dont have the energy or go in me to have a bath or keep my appearances up but if i go out with my partner, i like to look presentable! I have bipolar and some physical problems. I recently attended a medical to switch from I.B to ESA. They decided that i 'looked' fit enough for work in 6 months without even knowing me.! i have been placed in the WRAG and need to appeal. The so called doctor was the same doctor that failed me in 2008,i appealed and won. Now i had to face the same doctor and he failed me again. I'm so ill at the moment and going through yet another appeal is going to ruin my health. In my report it states that she was well kempt, neatly dressed, looks well, did not appear trembling, no sweating, did not make rocking movements (rocking may indicate anxiety!) I have anxiety and have never done these rocking movements,everything else was fine to him.(I usually put on a fake facade).

Lola's blog

I was judged to be fit for work as I looked 'well-kempt' at my Work Capability Assessment. You just can't win!

How is a person with depression supposed to look?

Sometimes when I am feeling really low the only way I can force myself out of the house is if I do my hair and put make up on - it's like a mask that I can hide behind, doesn't mean I'm not suffering inside.


I thought your blog was thought provoking. I try and look after myself and people deem that I'm well; but when it comes to getting a job I can't get one when I mention my mental health - some people have double standards when it comes to mental illness.

I too have failed my work

I too have failed my work capability assessment for being well kempt even though I was feeling absolutely lousy at the time. I am also physically disabled. I am having to go through the the appeal process which is stressful. I have had good counselling & bad counselling. The good counselling was private & was paid for by my ex Employer but they would only pay for 6 sessions which even the counsellor said was not enough. I could not afford to pay for private counselling myself. The worse was by my local NHS mental heath team. I had four sessions before they were stopped & most of that time we sat in silence as I could not open up. They just seem to want to put me on courses so I seem to be permanently on waiting lists with no practical help apart from anti-depressants & quick chats with my GP.


It saddens me to see the replies to my blog both on this site and the Facebook page echo my words almost without fail!! If so many people say the same thing time and time again why is it not being picked up on by the CMHT, GPs, the benefit system and any other departments or specialists concerned with mental health matters? Why are so many people being let down by those who are paid to support them physically, mentally and financially? We are living in the 21st century but it almost seems as ignorant in the matters of mental health as it did some hundred plus years ago when we would have been locked up, experimented on and abused!! When is someone in power and knowledgeable of those with mental health issues going to step up to the plate and actually support those that need it or even raise awareness to others the fact that we are all so good at putting on a mask and hiding behind a smile that we are deemed 'normal', whatever that may be and yet, as was mentioned above, dare to put on an application form that you have a mental health problem and you can wave the possibility of employment goodbye!! Our faces and our general appearance will rarely give away what we feel deep down inside or reveal the monster that we battle each and every day of our lives. It is time for people to be educated in the truths of mental health, for the myths to be busted and the stigmas to be removed and, unfortunately, the only people to do this are those that live with it.

thank you.

i just found this blog, and i wish to say thank you. i showed this to a couple of my friends so they can understand what it is like to have depression as i to have dealt with stigmatising from my work, my family and most of the people i considered to be friends. my doctors to wrote on my work assessment form about the way i looked which i find unfair as i was brought up to look presentable and deemed me fit to work yet i was and still am suicidal and being 19 years old they put me under hormonal teenager at first despite what they know about my past and knowing ive had it for 6 years, finally getting it diagnosed by a really kind comforting doctor making it understandable why i felt this way. mental health has always been on the back burner and swept under the carpet which has made it hard to speak out for fear of being called attention seeking or just told to get over it which i have heard countless times and still do constantly especially by my family. it makes people feel embarresed to talk about it and destroys any chance of self confidence that they may get. i therefore thank you for speaking out and being so brave, it is thank to you and people like other commenters here that for the first time i have felt less alone about it. thank you and keep strong =]

You're Welcome!

I am so glad you found my blog & this site as it is so supportive, even just to read the experience of others makes you realise that, not only are you not alone, but that the feelings you have & believe to be unique to yourself are, actually, very common feelings held by a very large amount of people! It kind of makes you feel less isolated & 'weird' if you like. This site is very supportive of teenagers that are experiencing mental health issues, everyone expects teenagers to have no problems & have no reason to be 'depressed' but this cannot be further from the truth, what with the pressure of school, college, university & exams as well as the social pressure from your peer group. I fully understand having gone through it myself & also going through it with my daughter who did try & take her life when she was 13 years old!! She is your age now &, thankfully, is so much better than she was although she still has relapses now & again. If ever you need anyone to talk to please let me know on here & I'll give you my email address, I know what it's like to feel isolated & am willing to support anyone if I can make even an ounce of difference. I'm also glad that you showed this to your friends because it is important for you to have their support & they can't do that properly unless they get a slight understanding of what you are going through. You stay strong too & remember this one thing, the world will not be a better place without you! ;) Take care xXx

you are me !!

I have just found your blog here and I have to say word for word you are me!!! even to the bit where is says your family explain your quiet time as away with the faeries !!!!!!! to which I reply that its fun there, only joking tho as I am indeed not away with them, I am neither here or there just nowhere really just in my own zone, i'd like to say I am thinking, but I am not I am just in a nowhere place in my head. Also I wonder if this is actually normal as most people seem to suffer with some form of depression or another, so maybe we/this is normal and everyone else are just in a higher state of conscience. I seem to be getting more and more stupid, making more and more simple errors at work, if I lose this job I will be unemployable because of my increasing stupidness, I go over and over things to make sure I have done them right, but they still end up wrong, I still believe no one would worry if I died, I am a waste of space, I feel I can not do anything right for anyone, I can not keep anyone happy. The doctor said to me 'what do I like doing?' I explained to her, there is nothing in life that I look forward to, or have fun doing, I was not lying, I seem to have that bit missing that involves enjoyment xxx.

Hi Janet, thanks for

<p>Hi Janet, thanks for commenting. I'm sorry to hear that you are having a tough time at work. Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, the 2 charities that run Time to Change, both provide infolines if you wanted confidential advice about getting support in your local area. You can find their contact details here:&nbsp; and&nbsp;</p><p>Kind regards, Ed<br>Time to Change&nbsp;</p>

You & Me, And Many More Too!!

Hi Janet Don't think you are the only one who feels this way, I have been lucky enough to meet a few of people who also understand these feelings!! I used to tell my Mum that it was like I was in a big bubble & the world was going on around me, I was just watching it pass by but no-one could see me!! My big sister told someone that I 'meant well' but didn't really live in the real world!! I put them right & said I live in a very real world, it's just different from the majority of people, it is like being nowhere in particular, as if everything would go on as 'normal' whether you were a part of it or not. One thing I learnt is that the world isn't a better place without you, me or the next person, we all give something in some way or other, no matter how small. I also have to check & double check I have done something, like today, I had no recollection of putting my card back in to my purse after I'd done some shopping, I had to check again before I walked away from the till, I felt such a fool but it's not that we're getting more stupid it's just that everyone's brain processes things differently & this can be made harder if you're suffering with depression! Please don't think you're alone, there are so many people like us & who understand us that are there to help, don't be afraid to reach out & ask, you'd be surprised at exactly how 'normal' you actually are! Take care & please feel free to chat if you want to. Lots of love & holiday wishes Lola

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