July 11, 2013

LucyNo, you're right I don't look depressed. That's because I'm not depressed at the moment. I do live with depression and I have for all of my adult life. It doesn't mean that I spend my days with a face akin to Melpomene (muse of tragedy).

I'm not sure if I'm expected to wear a badge or possibly bells to indicate that I'm a depressive?

I'm asking because some people don't realise that depression and mental health issues don't discriminate. It can and does happen to everyone. We are powerless to stop it. Our power lies with how we deal with it.

Yes, when I'm depressed I struggle to function. It has been for me, a completely paralysing experience, but with the right support, and sometimes the right medication I can get through the paralysis.

My worst experiences have been trying to hide my depression

My worst experiences with depression have been when I've felt that I had to hide my depression.

When I was 21 I was going through a very rough patch, and had been off work, told to go home by my boss whilst having a breakdown in the middle of St Anne's Square in Manchester.

As I sat frozen in the city centre whilst my boyfriend went to summon help in the form of my boss, I spotted someone I knew. I have never moved so quickly. I didn't want anyone to see the mess that I was in, terrified that someone would ask "what's the matter" as my answer was simply "I don't know". Signed off sick and taken to a football match to cheer me up, it got worse when a colleague spotted us "Hi! I haven't seen you in work for ages" was his greeting. "My back, I have a bad back" was my lame and hurried response.

Feeling you have some kind of dirty secret is awful

Hiding has only ever made things worse. I still get stressed when it comes to my medical history on job applications, why should I declare that at 15, 21, 24, 25... (you get the idea) I had depression and felt that things were beyond repair? Having to tell my current boss that I needed to see my GP and that it needed my GP because he understands. There are very few illnesses that require that conversation.

The same boss who told me that I needed to put my "game face" on at work. The best feeling happened last week when I felt I could say to my colleague, "my mood has slipped" and to know that we didn't need to say anything else. Feeling as though you have some kind of dirty secret is an awful thing, we shouldn't be frightened because we know how to deal with it.

I don't need you to understand, I just need you not to judge

I know when I need to see my GP and I know when all I need is sleep. I have dealt with my depressive side now for so long that it no longer frightens me. Yes, there are times when I wish I was someone else, and on rare occasions when I have considered and planned for not being able to stay. But if I hang on and do what I need to do then things settle, the paralysis lifts and I can move. I feel like I can never explain, to family or friends, why their love and support doesn't override the depression. To talk about it would feel like the ultimate insult to everything they have done. I can't help it so I don't say it.

I'm a member of a club that no-one wants membership of, yet we can be the kindest, loveliest, most articulate people you could meet (we can be the complete opposite so let's not get excited).I don't need you to understand, I just need you not to judge.

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