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There's been a noticeable trend recently in the number of bloggers and vloggers I've seen confessing mental health problems recently and along with that, I've seen the population in general say "oh yes, me too." Funnily enough, it's nearly always depression or anxiety rather than any other mental illness.
The wonderful Becky Bedbug wrote a post a while back on the subject of not glamourising anxiety and at the time, her post did enough talking for me but now it's finally time to add my own voice to the mix.
Quite frankly, I'm annoyed that there's almost a mental health bandwagon out there. I hate to say it but I fear people are self-diagnosing themselves with mental health problems to feel closer to their favourites or god forbid, they've been a bit sad or nervous recently and automatically assume it's a full blown disorder or illness when it's not, they really are just a bit sad and a bit nervous as perfectly normal responses to life events.
The thing is, as someone who has battled with depression for years I find it offensive that people almost want to be depressed.
There is nothing poetic about depression. I am not a sad soul who needs to be saved. My pain is not beautiful. There's nothing glamourous about it and I swear I will hit the next person who suggests there is.
As I write this post, I am a few days into a minimum period of two weeks sick leave from work. Yeah, this little period of feeling sad in my life is actually a hell of a lot more than that. Bad enough that my doctor took one look at me on Friday and told me no way was I going back to work that day.
This makes me one of the lucky ones. I am BLESSED to be given time off work to recover, rest and relax. It scares me that something which started off in my head has ended up like this. Maybe depression starts in the head, but for me, it's a full blown physical manifestation now.
For months, I have been too tired to function properly. I've watched the quality of my work go downhill. On the days where I actually made it into the office, I'd stare blankly at my computer hoping no one would notice that I wasn't actually typing anything. On the days I'd "work from home" I'd count my lucky stars if I could manage to have a nap without anyone emailing me and asking me why I hadn't done XYZ. My social life has ended. I haven't been going to roller derby. This blog trailed off yet again. I was living in filth. I stopped showering. Brushing my teeth. I was going to work in mismatched clothes without even brushing my hair. I've been spending my days in my bed surrounded by half eaten takeaways and bloody tissues because my nose won't stop bleeding. Acid reflux, huge headaches of death as I call them, stomach ache, feeling sick. No physical cause, it's just the stuff going on inside my head has completely exhausted to me.
I am no longer able to hide the state of my health and wellbeing and goodness knows how long it has been affecting people around me as well as myself.
Depression has ruined me and my body just as a physical disease would. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.
I've seen that Time to Talk Campaign encouraging people to talk about their mental health experiences so yeah, I've decided to open my mouth. This is a real, true, honest account of what it's like to live with depression.
I understand that it's different for everyone - it has taken years for it to turn into this for me - so I know your experience may look totally different. This isn't a cheap shot at people who are experiencing things in a way that I haven't and telling them there's no way they don't suffer from depression.
I am not writing this post to gain sympathy or play the "I have it so much worse than you" game. As I said before, I've been able to get help, medical professionals take me seriously. All I personally want is room to breathe and recover in peace.
I just want people to take depression as seriously as it deserves and I want people to take a step back and think, do you really want a life like this? Are you genuinely heading towards the kind of meltdown I've had or do you just need to realise your emotions are normal and no one is 100% happy 100% of the time.
This has been a very, very personal thing for me to write. I don't know if it will end up surviving on my blog. So if you're reading this, thank you and please be gentle.