Depression is NOT about what you see. It’s about how I’m feeling! ~Etta D. Richards
This is the second of my two-part series of speaking about my own partnership with mental health. I don’t call it a battle because battles are won or lost. With partnerships, you come to a mutual agreement.
I know what a rubber band feels like just before it snaps under the pressure of having its fibres stretched to the limit. It’s the point where you think to yourself….”I just can’t take this anymore!” At 16 I felt that snap. I was an emotional wreckless teenager who was falling in love for the first time, under tremendous pressure to perform at school and facing even more pressure to comply with the house rules at home. But I had a home, family that loved me, a guy who said he loved me. So why then was my mind in such despair, where was the HAPPINESS? I had the basics for living and so much to live for, at least so I was told. “Poor people don’t get depressed, suicide is for the wealthy.” Said the man in black Cassock and thin white collar. “Pray about you, it’s puberty, you’ll get over it,” he continued. “You can’t be depressed because you have a well-paid job, life is good to you,” said the medical professional who refused to diagnose my depression because he said it was all in my head and people would think I’m crazy.
My perfect day is not having to perform for anyone, not having to smile and pretend that the world was one big bed of roses.
Ten years later, I was married, had started a family, a small business and life was grand. So why was I still living such a painful existence? Why was life still so hard to cope with? Why were my thoughts still so distorted? Marriage became difficult because he didn’t understand why it was so difficult for me to do simple things, like getting out of bed or why I was an emotional train wreck going from smiling to crying in less than 60 seconds. I spent more time trying to convince myself that I wasn’t crazy as I did trying to convince others. I can remember my mother asking what was wrong with me, why was I always acting so crazy and there was nothing I could tell her to make her understand how I was feeling, it’s hard to explain to others how life felt like an endless painful cycle of suffering and emptiness where nothing but silence interest me. My perfect day is not having to perform for anyone, not having to smile and pretend that the world was one big bed of roses. How do you help people to understand something you yourself didn’t understand? It’s hard, it’s difficult and impossible to tell someone that seemed death more comforting than the pain of life.
At some point in your life, you get tired of fighting. You get tired of explaining yourself to others who will never understand the demons you wrestle with on a daily basis. I’ve read the textbooks that give step by step instructions on helping others understand your depression, I’ve read the books that, quote, unquote, give steps on dealing with depression but from experience, depression is as unique as your fingerprint. Each person’s experience with depression is different, whether you’re Bipolar, Psychotic, Seasonal Disorder or a full-blown metal break down, your experience will be unique to you and your situation. Friends of Robin Williams were shocked at his death, I remember reading Tweets of other celebs who knew him and people who were close to him, 90% of them said the same thing, “He seemed so Happy, he made people laugh.” Depression wears many masks and it’s the complete opposite of what people who are on the outside looking in thinks it is.
I don’t think of myself as a survivor of depression, I see myself as a warrior of depression because it’s a constant battle. The great news is I’ve found a great tribe , children I’m growing close too as the days go by and a man who supports me. For these I’m grateful!
Two ways you can support someone living with depression are:
Find out what depression is, learn to recognise the many faces of depression. This will help you understand what your friend or loved one is going through. Encourage them to seek professional help even if it means getting a second or third opinion as many times and in many societies, even those in the medical field still see it as Taboo or something to be ashamed of. They try to talk it down or brush it off as some imagined thing.
This is the best medicine. Listening and engaging in conversation no matter how unimportant it may seem at the time, shows you care. Persons suffering from depression are deep thinkers sometimes we have a lot to talk about. Take our feelings seriously, we can’t just snap out of it and it’s not all in our heads! Life’s an emotional roller coaster, it has nothing to do with you so don’t take it personally if we just want silence. The most important thing to us is your support.
The most common reason for suicide in depression is the belief that there is no escape from the suffering and that everyone would be better off without them. Prove them wrong!
This as my contribution to Debbie’s Forgiving Friday series, where she writes about and invite others to share their thoughts on Forgiveness, Self-Love and Personal Growth. Debbie, thank you and I am so grateful for the opportunity to contribute to your blog.
©Etta D. Richards