Depression is a tricky thing to write about. The moment you do people may think you are utterly unhinged or unreliable or suicidal. I like to think I am none of these. Despite risking raised eyebrows or frowns or what not I feel I need to write about mental health. I am an ambassador of a sizeable chunk of the population whose suffering largely goes unnoticed – for so many reasons. Because we feel there is worse suffering out there. There are refugees and raped women and wars and amputees so who are we to whine about what’s going on in our heads and bodies which look perfectly fine from the outside. So we put a brave face on it. And because many of us are ashamed of our weaknesses, which we feel we need to hide because what will our friends and our family and perhaps most importantly our employers think. So we smirk and smile and shine as hard as all the other people (who, for all we know, may be suffering one way or another too). And because so many of us don’t have a voice. But I do and although it may be little and squeaky I choose to use it.
So that’s why I wrote on waking: notes to self. And previously, Conversation. Not as an outcry, not because I want attention personally – yes I did feel like writing it because I needed an outlet, but I publish it because I want it to serve a purpose. To represent. To gently draw the contours of the ugly misalignment that treacherously attacks so many from within. To touch the loveable cores under the ugly crust. To say the crust can and will crack from time to time – and to encourage the crustaceans to keep chiselling away at it – and to acknowledge that it is often unbearable to keep doing just that. That it is a full-time job on its own – getting to one’s self, often not even knowing what is core and what is rot. What needs to go, what should stay, what should be tolerated for the time being.
So my writing also is a tribute to all of you who are punching your demons in the face on a daily, hourly, minutely basis. You are not weak. You are in combat and although you are bruised and shaken the very fact that you are still here is proof of your tremendous strength and courage. And if you can’t fight every second of every day that is alright. Give yourself some time off of being courageous every now and again and slouch and wallow. Everyone needs a mud bath from time to time.
Watch this short TED video called ‘What is depression?’ if you want to understand a little better what this crippling mental illness is like – ‘the leading cause of disability in the world’ (<5mins). If you have a little more time, listen to the wonderful Andrew Solomon (author of The Noonday Demon) talk about his experience with depression (<30mins). And if you still have time after that, read this brilliant article on opening up about depression to your surroundings (<20mins). If you don’t, just read this triggering sentence: ‘The only way I could see to relieve the pressure was to let the world see my brokenness.’ And on that note I’ll leave you to it and finally take that bath mentioned in the poem I wrote what must be a couple of hours ago by now. Otherwise you might think me unreliable and we can’t have that. Good day to you.