This is really raw and describes depression so well.
It has been on my mind quite a bit of late.
I have been talking to fellow sufferers, although I do hate that word, sufferer.
Whether you are deep in the midst of a depressive episode, or have come out the other side, I believe we are depression survivors, not sufferers.
Don’t get me wrong, when depression hits us, we do suffer.
It is a shockingly painful and debilitating illness.
It is not a matter of simply pulling oneself together.
It is not a matter of simply being sad.
I can only speak of my experience, and perhaps others people’s are very different, but for me it was a dark, confusing time, where the act of making myself get up and get dressed felt like too difficult a task some days.
I used to describe it as brain fog.
Fellow women readers, think the world’s worst…
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This afternoon I read a very real piece from Sista over at Phoenix Fights about anger. She writes very well about hiding her internal anger from her (annoyingly chirpy) therapy group and pretty much all of her friends, resigning herself to the fact that a recent outburst has probably led to the end of one such friendship. It was a post that really made me stop and think today.
How much time do we spend convincing others (and maybe also ourselves?) that we are experiencing socially acceptable emotions? How many “how are you’s” do we answer dishonestly with “oh great” or “much better thanks”. We may go as far as a little “getting there” or even a “one day at a time” but even these will be followed with a cheery smile. And then there’s the shoulder shrug or head bob that always follows such a statement, designed to relieve the other person of any awkward duty to reply, implying that it’s fine to leave it at that.
Why do I not admit that I’m not always okay? Why do I not answer a “how are you” with “not great actually, see that corner over there…well I’d really like to lie down in it, curled up in a ball, for about 14 straight hours”. Who I am I lying to? Who am I lying for? I’m not sure any more. Am I trying to protect my partner from the reality that I’m always going to be a little bit not-okay? Am I trying to pretend due to some unconscious fear that he would leave me if he suspected this was me, forever? Am I trying to convince myself that this slightly-less-than-okay existence is enough for me?
I’m not really sure why I do it, but today I realised that I’m not the only one who does. And I’m guessing Sista and I aren’t the only two! Which makes me wonder…what would happen if we all told the truth?
This post is for the reader who came to my blog using the search term “can a mental illness cause a man to cheat”. Don’t worry, I don’t know who you are. I don’t even know if you followed my blog once you got here. But I hope that this post will reach you.
I don’t know your story and I don’t know your partner’s but I do know this: mental illness or not, your partner does not have the right to hurt you. Mental illness is not a “free pass” to do as we please to those we love or to those who love us.
Perhaps you are searching for a way to explain away a recent betrayal. I can understand that only too well. Regardless of the situation please know that your partner is not more important than you. Your emotions and needs are just as important as his. And you need to take care of you.
Living with a mentally ill partner can be exhausting and emotionally demanding. It’s okay to admit that. It’s okay to need help. Its okay to need give-and-take. It’s okay to need. If you need to talk about you and how you can cope with your partner’s illness please seek out a counsellor or a support group. Please value yourself as equal to your partner. Never let another person devalue you or reduce you to a secondary character in your own life story.
I take antidepressants. Two of them actually. Every day. Morning and night. Do you want to know why? They get me out of bed and they get me into life. They are my flashlight and my high-vis jacket, my survival tools in my ongoing battle against the dense, grey fog that surrounds my brain. I use them to break free from the confusion and stride towards the road ahead, flagging a little from the exertion perhaps, but seeing the way forward and powering on without fear.
So tell me I’m the pharmaceutical industry’s bitch. Tell me I’m weak. Tell me your story about how you cured yourself using only glo-sticks and cucumbers. Go on….I dare you!
It seems to me that there is a counter-productive and dangerous trend emerging. A trend towards distancing oneself from the “weak ones”, i.e. those brainwashed by the pharma industry and too feeble-minded to even know it. Those who seek to medicate. Those who gladly hand over their hard-earned cash for the sweet relief of psychopharmaceutical intervention.
Depression survival has emerged from the shameful shadows of it’s past, to a time when it’s acceptable for it to be worn like a badge of honour. Honour being defined as having overcome “that nasty episode” by channeling your inner strength. And vegetables. And vitamin shakes. And jogging. And hypnosis. And whatever other bullshit you want to peddle as long as it doesn’t come in pill form. Or have to be dispensed by a person in a white coat.
It seems pretty clear to me that none of the following are acceptable responses to an article where somebody has BRAVELY publicly declared their mental health difficulties:
- The pharma industry makes a trillion bazillion dollars every year from people dependent on anti-depressants and it’s all a big ruse and you are just part of it you sad bastard
- My mother’s cousin’s sister had depression and then she went jogging every day and now she is fine and owns a ferrari
- I thought I was depressed but then I realised it was my lifestyle, so I cut out all gluten, sugar, alcohol and liquids and now, living on sunflower seeds alone, my life has never been better
And yet every day I read these inane comments. The discussion turns away from the bravery of the author, the stigma meaning we even need to label the author as such and the ways in which “normal” people can better understand and help those of us in difficulty. Instead, we turn in on ourselves and we ostracize those who medicate and we criticise their choices, with each person trying to outdo the other to tell the anecdote that *proves* the non-medicinal way is best. And we need to STOP. We need to stop right now. How can we expect the world to stop judging us when we can’t even stop judging ourselves?