Depression – It’s a bit crap really…
I was looking at a quote recently about depression (you may have seen it on my Facebook page, if not, why aren’t you following my Facebook page) and it really struck a chord with me.
The stereotypical view of depression is that the sufferer will be generally unkempt, unshaven, not wearing make-up, constantly in scruffy clothes and possibly hasn’t showered in a while. Their home will be dirty and messy and they will be unable to have any kind of meaningful dialogue as they are too ‘sad’ (we’ll get to that later). While there is truth to that in many cases, a lack of care in one’s appearance can be a key indicator of depression, it’s absolutely not true for all and shouldn’t be looked for as a definitive sign.
Some of us are what we call ‘high-functioning’. That means that yes, we’re depressed, we do suffer from a mental illness, you just can’t see it. This can cause a problem as it tends to confuse people because there’s no visible outward sign that there’s anything wrong. There’s no bruise or cut or plaster cast that they can sigh and tut over and say, ‘aww poor you, I bet that hurts,’. We don’t have a flashing, neon sign above our heads screaming, ‘ACTUALLY KAREN, YES, I AM IN FUCKING PAIN! I HAVE DEPRESSION, CAN’T YOU SEE?’.
Trying to explain to someone what it’s like if they’ve never had it can be quite frustrating. I think J.K. Rowling did it best with the creation of the Dementors in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (best book AND film, fight me); dark, hooded, shadowy figures who suck all the happiness out of you leaving you a gibbering wreck in the corner sobbing because you feel completely empty. I really couldn’t have described it better myself.
Because ultimately, that’s what depression is. It’s not feeling ‘sad’ or being mopey all the time. I mean sure, people do and that’s perfectly valid because there’s a whole range of symptoms you can have. But more often than not, depression is about feeling empty, feeling nothing at all. Like there’s a big, black hole of nothing inside you and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger and eventually it’ll devour you and leave a broken, empty shell. Which sounds pretty, fucking bleak to be perfectly honest.
But that black hole is why I choose to wear makeup and do my hair and attempt to look my best (even if I don’t feel it), because I don’t want anyone to see it or know that it’s there, growing like a cancer inside. I have no obvious, outward manifestation of my illness because there is none.
There’s so much going on in a person’s head that we simply can’t see. 1 in 4 people will suffer from a mental illness in their lifetime so odds are pretty strong that someone you know is suffering right now. Perhaps it’s that person who’s always smiling or the one who’s always cracking a joke, trying to make other people laugh. Never assume that the person in front of you isn’t hurting just because you can’t see a wound. Look beneath the surface. You never know what you’ll find.
If this post struck a chord with you, then feel free to leave a comment below and/or check out the links to UK helplines and some resources for dealing with depression. Please, please reach out if you’re struggling. You don’t have to suffer in silence.