It’s interesting trying to explain the agony that depression brought into my life to people who are not depressed. I find that people who haven’t fought that particular battle have difficulty understanding what I mean when I say I was not in physical pain per se but I was in excruciating torment nonetheless. Physically, I’m sure my body showed no signs of peril.
‘How can I help?’ and ‘What can I do?’ - these two questions have been at numerous times asked by concerned friends, but as I have pondered what response would best suit the occasion, I’ve never truly answered, because simply, I’ve not known the answer.
How do you let others help you when you don’t always know how to help yourself? That very question for me can be taken on an individual level, and a macroscopic level just as much.
Depression has been a part of my life for over 10 years; yet I still don’t fully understand it. So, how do I explain what “it” is to someone who has no experience of depression in their life?
In all honesty, I’ve rarely been asked to explain what depression means to me. You say the word and people either turn away in fear or they try to relate in attempts to console and/or fill the silence. When really, all I need is for someone to ask “And how does depression affect you?”.
Many people might think of a period of poor mental health as being incapable of getting out of bed in the morning, or a severe lack of motivation and reluctance to do anything. Certainly, for many people these symptoms are prominent at times.
However, some who are living with a mental illness, or generally struggling with mental health, are high-functioning. They still live out their day-to-day lives like normal. They go to work, socialise, and function like anyone else.
My name is Richard and I’m coming at mental health from the “other side” of the fence.
I have worked in mental health support for over 10 years and, thankfully, have witnessed many improvements in the way in which society in general treats people who experience mental health problems. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a long way to go to eradicate all the discrimination and stigma which affects people with mental health problems; but please allow me to share some of my experiences - from the early days of my flowering interest in mental health to where I think we are now.