Today I am going to respond to a social media post about me. I'm going to do it with dignity, and not resort to name calling. I am not going to name the person, or show the post, as I don't think that would help. I will say that it is someone who knows me and doesn't like me.
Simply, I must write this. I must put my thoughts down to help me process my anger, process my sadness. But also, it highlights again the stigma around depression and mental health in general. This is how I am choosing to deal with it. So, I thought I would answer each of the points in turn, again, not just for me but also for all sufferers:
“It’s embarrassing to be 50 and you don’t work.”
Yes, you're right, I don't work. If you count work as a job you get paid to do. By that definition, I don't work. But I do, I work. I work every day. I have been ill for four years now, and I have worked every day; worked to cope, worked to carry on, worked to try to get better. Sometimes it is a big thing, sometimes it is a little thing. I do as much as I can do, every day. Sometimes I don't do anything, and that's because that is all I can do that day.
But even when I am not doing anything, I am still working. I am working to drown out the thoughts that say horrible things. I am working to drown out the suicidal thoughts. I am working to find ways to ignore the thoughts that tell me I have nothing to look forward to in life. And I don't get a day off. I don't get weekends off, or holidays, or a sick day for being sick.
I have tried so many things to get better. It is important to me that people see that, even if I don't get better, that I have tried. I have tried counselling (five different counsellors), peer support groups, CBT, exercise for health, mindfulness, guided visualisation meditation and been in an adult mental health hospital. Some days I couldn't attend because I was not well enough, but I have always tried my best. I have not just sat at home waiting to get better or given up on ever getting well.
I also volunteer. I work; for free. I don't have to. I choose to, in the hope that it will help my recovery. I do it because I like it - it gives my life purpose at a time where that's in very short supply.
So, I take it back. You are wrong. I do work. A LOT.
“Crying in your room at 50, lol.”
Yes, you're right. I do cry. I cry a lot actually. It's not something that I am particularly proud of, but also, it's not something I am necessarily ashamed of. I cry at more things than I used to, but I also have more things to cry about than I used to. Sometimes it's too much. Sometimes life is too hard. I struggle every day to cope with even the simplest of things. I am SO tired. Four years, non-stop. Relentless. I cry in despair, I cry in anguish, I cry in hopelessness at a situation that I can't see a way out of. I cry in frustration at the things I can't do anymore. I strike myself because I am so frustrated, and I cry when I do that. I cry at the pain I cause myself. I cry because I hate myself and then I strike myself because I hate myself.
But I also cry because it's good for me to let out all those emotions. The feeling of letting them go is a release to me, even if it is only for a small moment. Because I must. Because doing it saves me. Doing it drags me from the edge, makes me stop tumbling into oblivion, allows me to breathe for a bit. Instead of the edge of a cliff, I sit on the top of a mountain and catch a breath of fresh air.
So yes, I do cry.
So, please don't judge me. You have no idea what I am going through. Actually no, please do, because I will use this to get better. Your ignorance and stigma will inspire me to continue to fight, to continue to get better, so that one day I can throw it back in your face.