A Line in the Sand
Distinctions in mental health are hard to come by. In fact, they're not hard to come by at all, they just don't exist. There's no line in the sand which on one side we can say someone has good mental wellbeing and someone else has bad mental wellbeing.
It's all a continuum. One big desert full of unquantifiable grains that ebb and flow within each person. Mental wellbeing is an extremely complex area with many shades of grey and very few absolutes and yet in the book, I've tried to separate them in order to try and give some clarity on different ways our mind can be affected and how each has had an impact on me personally.
In an attempt to create some clarity, I do want to try and make a distinction between a period of low mood and clinical depression. I have got no idea what it feels like to be clinically depressed, and I certainly don't want to find out.
Clinical depression according to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) definition needs to last for two weeks or more. This isn't to say you can't be depressed for less time than this (as I have experienced) but in order for it to be a diagnosable condition according to the ICD it does need to affect you every day for a longer period of time.
It’s perfectly normal to be depressed after something sad has happened in your life. Losing a job or a loved one for instance. It’s also normal for depression to hit without a rhyme or reason.
It's also normal to feel depressed in the form of a sadness or apathy without any discernible cause, as I feel I've had.
With this in mind, I have tried to talk about my own mental wellbeing with as much clarity as I can fathom. The last thing I would want to do be to claim that my experiences are comparable to all other experiences of depression. Low mood is simply the only form of depression I know, and I realise that it may seem completely insignificant in comparison to what some people battle with. The inner sanctums of my mind is the only experience I can share though I've never had a formal diagnosis and I've never needed to seek additional therapy beyond talking to Marisa and my friends.
What I do feel very fortunate to have, is a wife who knows far more about these things than me, as a psychotherapist. Throughout the book, I've drawn on all her experience and inspiration to enrich the pages, but there are some amazing parts in the mental health chapters where Marisa has contributed directly to the book and I know everyone is going to find huge value in these parts.