Recently a lot of people I’m close to have either posted online about their experiences with depression, or have shared with me in person about their mental well-being, and I’ve been keen to join in because I think that campaigns like Time to Change are doing amazing things for relieving the stigma surrounding mental health and mental health issues.
I think it’s important to begin this with a clear admission. I do not suffer from clinical depression, or in fact any kind of depression. I am a “born worrier” and definitely have a lot of anxiety issues, but I’ve been dealing with them for long enough not to consider myself to have a diagnosable (it’s a word, I decided it) anxiety problem. I am a generally upbeat and positive person and that’s something I’m very glad of, and I hope that I am never unlucky enough to suffer with any kind of issue which changes that.
Now, having said that, I definitely have very cyclical moods and my temperament can switch very rapidly. I mentioned this a few times early on when I started my blog, calling them Sally-Moods. Which as I’m sure any longtime readers will remember I mostly solved by the inclusion of Jellybean, who has had a bit of a makeover, courtesy of me caring more about him.
Anyway, this isn’t exactly relevant, so moving on. All of the above makes me feel like I’m quite in touch with my own emotions, which I feel in turn has made me quite empathetic. However, I think that, like most people who aren’t personally physically affected by depression, I don’t really understand it, and it’s possible I never will. That being said, the recent outpouring of thought on the subject has helped me get a much firmer grasp on it all. The main thing I’ve gleaned from reading about experiences of my friends or people I look up to (see the wonderful Allie Brosh) is that depression is different for everyone, and there isn’t really any proper “understanding it”, sometimes even for the sufferer. There’s just moving through it in what is hopefully a positive way.
The fact that my friends were willing to write and talk about their experiences with depression helped me in another way. It helped me to learn to talk about these problems. I’ve never really been quiet (see the name of my entire website), and I’ve never particularly shied away from controversial or taboo subjects because I believe learning is the ultimate way to better yourself, and sometimes the best and only way to do that is to talk. But when you want to try and understand something so inherent about a person as their own feelings, it can be sticky territory, which I’ve previously struggled to approach.
Reading other people’s blogs and experiences helped show me that it’s acceptable to ask about how a person is feeling and have them actually explain, rather than just offering platitudes which in this case is often a bit meaningless. Reading posts from a certain friend in particular has helped me to better help her (I hope) by talking frankly, sharing articles and views, and being genuine rather than pointlessly soppy. It’s also helped me talk to Boyfriend about his feelings (BOYS HAVE FEELINGS. WHAT?! jokes, this is an obvious thing) which has definitely strengthened our relationship.
So, that is my post about depression. It is time to change our perceptions and it’s important to understand that mental health is something we all have, is exactly the same way that we all have physical health. Be ready to talk to people, and let people talk to you. Make an effort to engage with people, even if you don’t understand completely. Seriously guys. This stuff is important.