Sunday, 20 May 2012

Introducing me and introducing depression

There are multiple myths and perceived wisdoms about depression.  Some are unhelpful and others harmful, but that doesn’t stop them from being perpetuated. I can’t really blame those who don’t understand depression, because I was one of them. Unless you have walked that path yourself, it is difficult to even begin to imagine what that journey is like, and strangest of all, I didn’t understand depression while it was happening to me.

I am now in my mid-thirties and was diagnosed five years ago, but with the benefit of hindsight I can see that it has been a part of my life for most of my life. While I wish it wasn’t the case, I have come to view it like my freckles. I wish I had skin that was either peaches and cream, without blemishes or olive that tanned quickly or easily, I don’t. And however hard I wish otherwise, my depression is here to stay, but rather that ignore it or hate it, I need to accept it.  With the best will in the world it is easier said than done.  I may reach for the factor 50 and say I am content to remain in the shade, but every so often I let things slip and get burnt for it.

I don’t pretend to be an expert; I can only talk about my own experiences with any authority.  But I hope that my insight into myself may help others with their own or their loved-ones’ situation. I for one bought books and never once opened them. One in particular would sit on the bookshelf and taunt me. It became a metaphor for the depression in that the simple act of picking the book up to start the healing process seemed so impossible, that I was so incapable of making even the smallest step. Some friends and family found this infuriating, but at this point in my life it was a huge achievement to brush my teeth before tea time.

With that in mind I have tried to keep the segments short and manageable. If one doesn’t work for you, skip to the next one. Every person who suffers from depression got there in their own unique way. The journey from that point onwards is similarly variable. You can recover and never look back.  You can create a life where you manage your depression, never fully leaving it behind but keeping the times when it gets the better of you to a minimum. As difficult as it may be to understand from the outside, some embrace the condition and see it as a positive part of their lives.

It is for that reason that I will avoid the use of terms such as fight and battle.  It makes depression something than could and should be beaten and while for some this is true, for others this will simply empower the depression and reinforce feelings of failure if it doesn’t work out that way.

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