#whatpeopledontsee is the brilliant hashtag being used by Blurt (Increasing awareness and understanding of depression) on social media that allows people to share their experiences of depression during Depression Awareness Week. If you want a glimpse at how strong and resilient as as well as heartbreaking and soul destroying life can be please pop over to twitter and have as scroll though, I have participated also.
I have written about my own experience with depression before, it isn’t very glamorous or ‘aspirational’ but I wanted my blog to be a place of honesty and my mental health is part of me – or should I say my mental un-health – as we all have mental health, as we do physical health.
I believe passionately that we should provide education in schools about good mental health and what happens when people experience difficulties, in exactly the same way that we are taught about healthy eating and physical health. Otherwise how the hell is anyone meant to know what’s happening to them when their mental health starts to suffer? and of course the stigma remains as people are frightened to even say the words ‘depression’, ‘anxiety’ or ‘mental health’.
Talking therapies, mindfulness, CBT and meds are all valid ways of addressing the issues that we might experience but no one wants feel like the ‘one who can’t cope’, which makes it even more difficult to ask for help.
Our lives will always contain an element of stress, its part of the human condition, but we need to have the tools to deal with it. Please note I am well much aware of the difference between suffering from stress and suffering from depression but if we can show people and get them to think about the fact that they experience stress, which is a universal mental health condition then its not too big a leap to get them to consider how feasible and okay it is to suffer from other mental health issues such as depression.
It is very hard for those who love someone who suffers from depression, particularly as the reflex reaction is to try and ‘fix it’ but of course it can’t just ‘be fixed’, the most helpful thing is to acknowledge the illness and be supportive, and seek support for yourself as well if you need it.
Having depression doesn’t mean that you are mad, bad or sad. It means you are unwell and like any illness that manifests itself mentally or physically the most important thing is recovery, no matter how long a road it seems.