November 6, 2015

Depression.Kate's blog Go on, say it. It's such a.... depressing word. It conjures up pictures of a person sitting on a dingy sofa, clutching their head and looking anguished. I have depression. I also have a family, dogs and a cat. There are packed lunches to make, teeth to brush, faces to wash, the school run. Then there are the dogs to walk, housework to do, dinner to cook, school run again, entertaining my son, bath time, bed time, an hour or so of doing other stuff then my bed time (sleep is hard to find). How then do I find the time to be depressed? I wear a mask. I smile, chat with the pre-school teachers and other mums and inside, on a bad day, I'm whispering to myself, "I just want to die".

I suspect lots of other busy parents wear the same mask, juggling more than me with work and childcare and homework and bills... It can't just be me. But nobody talks about it.

I'm really fed up with living behind a mask all the time

It's an awkward subject to bring up, isn't it? Depression and other mental health illnesses are a bit of a conversation stopper at the school gates. But you know what? I'm really fed up with living behind a mask all the time. "Yeah, I'm fine, how are you?" That's a response that means nothing and denies friendship and intimacy. I've started owning up to feeling really rubbish, just with a couple of really close friends. They have amazed me with their kindness. They haven't made a big deal but have just offered a coffee, an ear, distraction and the chance to feel connected to life if only for a moment. To those friends I want to say: “thank you”. The kindness you show reminds me that depression is not everything that defines me. Depression makes me feel useless, a waste of space, a failure, like I've let everyone down. I get angry over the smallest things and I shout, then I tell myself how awful I am because I shouted at my husband or my little boy. I should just pull my socks up, count my blessings.

Depression is a real illness

Depression isn't catching. I'm not mad. I'm not about to hurt anyone, or anything else the tabloid press would have us believe. I'm ill and I'm doing all I can to get better. If I had a broken leg, people could sign my cast, give me a hand to open doors and carry the shopping. People would sympathise, encourage me to do my physio exercises once the cast was off. People would understand that it would take a while for my leg to build up strength; that I might limp; that it might ache on cold, damp days.

Do I need a cast for my head? If I had one, maybe everyone would understand. There is no big sign, no cast, no flashing light on my head. I don't look ill. Maybe that's what scares some people; if I'm experiencing mental illness then maybe they might do, too, some day. It's just too close to home. Or maybe I'm too unreliable? Some days I'm really chatty, others I might say a quick hello then scuttle off, head down. Please - don't judge, don't stigmatise, don't assume I'm unfriendly or snobbish. It's just the depression. Depression is a real illness and it's not my fault, it's just the depression that tells me so.

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Comments

I really relate to what you

I really relate to what you're saying about how to just come out with the fact you have a mental illness - it is something of a conversation stopper! I have had the same problems but in the end I just got sick of hiding an illness I didn't ask for. I started my own blog about my struggles with anxiety and depression and it has been amazing how much support I have received. I'm glad you have confided in some close friends as it is always good to have people to talk to about it. We shouldn't be ashamed for being ill.

Thanks Kate that was a great

Thanks Kate that was a great blog. This is my first time looking at other people's blogs and making a slight effort to get support I have depression and possibly bipolar disorder it's so hard to open up to people about it but it's liberating isn't it. Feeling like you're alone is the worst cheers to you for having the courage to share your story you're an inspiration

Thanks Kate

So helpful to read about someone who knows how hard it is when you're managing to carry on with most things, telling everyone (or almost everyone) that you're ok, but feeling dreadful inside. It's somehow so 'unbritish' to answer the question 'how are you?' honestly! I was lucky enough to find a friend who was also experiencing depression who I could really open up to, but never be scared to tell the truth to someone you trust who asks how you are - they wouldn't be asking if they didn't care!

We're not alone!

Thank-you for sharing your story. It's one many people, including myself, can understand and empathise with. I've had depression on and off for most of my adult life, and perhaps undiagnosed as a teenager, and it's only now that I'm really reaching out for help in a proper way. And I do have to do the work, as no one, even a loving husband, is helping me. I adore our two children. They are young and demanding and this is so challenging, even when you're well. I struggle with making decisions, for example, what shall we have for dinner? but I just have to be the adult and do it. My confidence levels are so low. I work 4 days a week and my line manager doesn't have a clue how to deal with me. Thankfully there are more senior managers that do and I am supported up to a point. Some days I feel left out when I'm in the school play ground on a Friday, but I know they are the same people they were when I last saw them, dealing with their inner struggles and I try not to be paranoid. I try to stay positive and live as good a life as I can. I try to plug the hole inside me with food and spending and anything else that might make me feel good, but I'm working on this. I've gushed, so I'm sorry, but I don't talk about it much. I do know we're not the only ones, and we should talk about it more.

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