Depression – A Sufferer’s View


This blog post was written by my good friend Jessie from Tidy House Tidy Mind: 50’s Wannabe Housewife. She asked me to proof read it for her and after reading it I had to post it as it is so well written.
Depression is a cruel illness. I have suffered depression for many years, although I didn’t always realise I was sick. In fact, I became so used to being depressed that feeling lacklustre and unmotivated became normal. Happiness wasn’t something I aspired to, it was something other people had and deserved but I didn’t. And the worst part of this is that I was ok with this.
The whole practice of depression is to conquer and divide. If we are with people who care, they can talk us up, make us get help and support us. If we are alone, it’s just this disease and us and it gets free reign. It can control us by changing our beliefs, warping our perception and twisting our words and the words of others. And we become afraid to seek help too. This disease discourages seeking help from friends, doctors and therapists because it is afraid that with help we can get rid of it. But it is a powerful disease and sadly so many of us don’t seek help or get the help we need.
Communication too is difficult, if not downright impossible. I know I found it very hard to explain to my husband why I felt so miserable and to others too. How can you tell someone that you wish you had never woken up this morning, that you wish you had caught a horrible disease because you deserve to have it, that you wish you had died as a baby because you have done nothing but cause or be a pain. The truth is, none of this is rational and the responses of people are often dismissive. “Nonsense, you do have friends.” “Rubbish, we all love you.” “You’re a great friend/mother/sister/brother/etc.” Depression is very alienating as it discourages communication and understanding, and being an illness of the mind makes it even harder for many people to understand. I know for some that writing it down can help. For others, poetry or music can help, either reading and listening or writing and playing.
Antidepressants are part of the journey and are not for everyone. They will not cure you of your depression, just help to mask some of the overwhelming symptoms to allow you breathing space in which to work through the issues that the depression is using as weapons. This is the cleverness of this disease. It uses our own failings and faults as weapons against us. And it does so with extremely high efficiency. My depression would remind me of unkind words I spoke to someone when I was 10 or 11 and then use this to reinforce what a horrid person I was. The next step was to tell me that the friends I had were only friends with me because they pitied me and didn’t want to stop being friends because then I would have no-one.
Seeing a therapist is not easy. It never is easy when dealing with our own fears and our past. Sometimes what we remember is much worse than what actually is. Sometimes our fears are justified but either way, dealing with them whilst we are with someone qualified to help us is going to help beat this disease. Self medicating, be it with drugs, alcohol, food or hiding from it doesn’t help in the long run and often compounds the problem with addiction. I hid myself in fantasy books which did nothing to cement my grip on reality, only helped me switch off from my pain for an hour or two.
For those around us, they have their own journey with depression. Watching someone’s confidence erode, watching them self destruct , listening to them crying or self hating or lashing out on those around them is horrible. And when someone you love is hurting and all you want to do is comfort them, being pushed away is heartbreaking. But keep trying. Keep listening. Try not to judge or advise how to fix things, just back up, support and offer help unconditionally. Most importantly, if someone mentions suicide or even hints at it, take them seriously.
There are help lines out there that can assist you to support someone with depression or help you if you need some support. And if you can’t get hold of anyone else and you are really concerned or in a really bad place, call the police or a hospital.
Resources available:
Beyond Blue     ph. 1300 22 4636
Kids Help Line       ph. 1800 55 1800
Lifeline                   ph. 13 11 14
Mensline            ph. 1300 78 99 78
PANDA – Post and Ante Natal Depression Association
                                   ph. 1300 726 306
SANE                                ph. 1800 18 SANE (7263)
There is also a  Lifeline App for iPhone which allows you to search for help based on location or service required.
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