I wrote this post for G+ to raise awareness of Depression Awareness Week in April, and as I’m planning a second post on the same subject then I thought it was worth putting the first one in the public domain so I can reference it.
I have been aware of depression from a fairly young age, although I didn’t call it depression then. Both of my parents suffered from it for years, although it wasn’t until I was in my early teens that I really understood what the word meant and how it affected their behaviour and their relationship with each other. I have always known I have a generic propensity towards depression, and so I’ve always been very self aware and very clued up as to what signs to look for in my own psyche and my own behaviour. But of course, it is never that easy, and very often the times I am the least self aware are the times that there is something there that I should have noticed.
But this isn’t really about me. I’ve suffered from mild depression a few times, with each one linked to a particular situation that my mind had difficulties processing. Generally it goes away with time, medication, and a whole load of talking to people and writing things down, and I feel I have been fairly lucky with my mental health over the last few years.
But I am still aware of depression on a day to day basis in most areas of my life. I lose count of the number of friends and loved ones who have fallen prey to this illness, and who fight a daily battle to do those things that the rest of us take for granted. Every day I see positive examples of people clawing themselves back from the abyss, but sometimes I also see the times when people do not feel they are winning and need a helping hand to see how worthwhile they are as people and how much good they contribute to other people’s lives.
I know so many people who I am extraordinarily proud of in this respect. It is not my place to name them, but they probably know who they are, and that I have their back.
But that’s not all I want to say. I wrote earlier that this isn’t about me, but I suppose it is in a way. On some levels I’ve not been doing too well these last few months, and whilst I would not say I’ve been suffering from full-blown depression, I think my stress and anxiety levels have been extremely unhealthy, and at times off the scale.
Most of the time I hide it well, but I have spent a lot of time this year trying to untangle some of my longstanding fears and anxieties so I can move forward and actually be more use to the people around me. This has taken a lot of time, a lot of mental energy, and a lot of long conversations with people who have let me talk but also provided a safely net during those times where I may have uncovered memories and thoughts that were unexpected or somewhat disturbing. Again, these people probably know who they are, and how highly I regard them. But I can’t really write about this subject without acknowledging them again.
I think I am winning now though, but I needed help. I don’t find asking for help easy, but I do strongly recommend it. Showing vulnerability and weakness is not something any of us find easy, but sometimes it is the first stage in the healing process and one that I cannot recommend strongly enough.
I also recommend talking. And writing things like this. And using this week to raise everyone’s awareness of exactly how many people are touched by this illness in some way.