Jessica Hutchinson has a great story to tell about her experience with depression:
“Just get over it”. Those four words don’t seem like much but when you say it to someone with Depression it becomes something else entirely. It is (generally) said because the person saying it doesn’t understand what Depression is like because unlike cancer, or syphilis, it’s not an illness that is easily visible or understood.
Most people have experienced some form of Depression. For those that haven’t, it can be described like this: you have the most awesome Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles playset ever. Just go with it. It’s the sewer hide-out one, with two levels and you have all the Turtles there to play with (Leonardo was the best hands down, case closed, no arguments). You’ve had this playset all your life and it’s the best kind of fun you know. One day you realise that something seems out of place with the playset. You aren’t quite sure what it is but it starts bugging at you. After a few more months the playset seems like it’s plagued with even more things that seem “wrong”. Maybe the bit on the plastic grating that snapped off has ruined the fun a little. But that can’t be entirely it. You’re sure of it. The things that seem “wrong” start to weigh you down. Did Donatello just look at you funny? Time passes and the playset begins to resemble something entirely different from what it once was- even though it *looks* the same. The playset that once held so much fascination loses some of it’s shine. It becomes harder to save the day with the Turtles. Slater seems somehow less Jedi-like and less interested in saving April.
For me it started when I was a kid where harsh and traumatic situations occurred, and the emotional support to learn how to cope with them just wasn’t there. I never learnt to deal with things that would get me feeling down, primarily because I didn’t know what “being down” was or that I even *was* down! Now that I’m older, slightly wiser, slightly poorer from money spent in therapy, it’s easy to see the triggers and the things that cause me to have days where I don’t want to get out of bed. It doesn’t happen as often, but I’m not free of them yet.
We don’t choose to ignore our friends because we hate them, or miss out on social events because we don’t want to go. It’s generally the complete opposite- we so very badly want to be a part of the world we live in but don’t know how to heal the hurt or the emptiness that can very literally disable our minds.
It’s a work in progress. It’s different for everyone. For some it’s just lacking a capability to know how to deal with certain things. For others it’s lacking the right balance of chemicals in their brain that help regulate happy feelings. It can be a combination of both. Heck, it could be something else entirely! One person’s Depression is someone else’s walk in the park. Speaking of walks in the park- why is a bad day described (for someone with depression) as having a “black dog day”. That doesn’t make sense to me. Who could be depressed with a gorgeous cute little fuzzy black Labrador puppy chasing butterflies in the park?
Sadly there are people that could be. I most certainly have had some wretched days. What feels worst for me is not thinking how bad I felt on those days but how bad I’ve made others feel- loved ones, friends, my incredibly patient partner. Someone that is depressed never wants to hurt their loved ones- and my goodness do you appreciate the fact that after everything you put them through they are still there willing to hold your hand or wrap you in their arms and let you cry.
Capril is a marvellous excuse to write and talk about Depression. It’s not something to be ashamed of. We shouldn’t hide it, nor should we necessarily fling it in peoples faces. But we should talk about it more. Really understand why the guy in the cubicle next to you has been feeling sad this week. If you’re having a bad day, tell someone. If you’re someone listening to a friend saying they are having a bad day- really listen to them. What is it that’s actually getting them down? You might not be able to solve their problems but they don’t want you to anyway. All it usually takes is a positive word of encouragement, to soldier on, to make a difference. Or a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles playset, they make anybody smile.
And if you are going to fling Depression into peoples faces: at least have the sensibility to do the flinging with a cape.
To find out more about the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety, available treatments and where to get help, visit the beyondblue website at www.beyondblue.org.au or call the info line on 1300 22 4636.