I wrote this last week but then bottled it when it’s came to posting it. A week of reflection has prompted me to suck it up and get on with it because I think it’s the right thing to do right now.
There still feels to be a stigma around mental health, as exemplified by my week of tumult in considering whether or not to post this.
I’m down at the moment. It happens every couple of months, my mood dips, I feel lethargic, stressed and grumpy. I want to lock myself away in a dark room somewhere and not talk to anyone, not see anyone and if I feel like it, just cry for a bit.
I’m generally an energetic, happy, positive person, I try to inspire those around me and lift everyone’s mood so we can all build ourselves to our fullest and happier potential. Sometimes that seems utterly preposterous. I can’t even keep myself happy.
This dark shroud that is fogging my vision, my hearing, my taste, my appetite, my voice, my life. I feel like a ship at sea in the depths of a fantastic storm in the pitch of night, thunder crashing around me, the whole earth moving underneath my heavy bow and all I can do, is lower the sails, sit there and ride it out. The thought of sailing on to the next destination is impossible. Trying to sail out of the storm is impossible.
The clouds will clear and I can resume my journey on calmer seas, hopefully without to much damage to me or those around me.
I really kick myself when I feel like this because I have no right to feel like this. I have a perfect life (not a boast but a statement of contentment with my current situation of having a good job and a loving family). This submerging spiral of sadness and telling myself I have no reason to feel depressed perpetuates itself into the deepest recesses of lack of self-worth and value.
I read an enlightening and comforting passage written by Robert Webb in How To Be A Boy (find it here), I don't normally go for autobiographies but this is well worth the time. Webb talks his conversation with his counsellor, he struggles to justify getting help because someone is always worse off than himself. His counsellor responds, "if you walk into a hospital with a broken arm, you may be sat next to someone with two broken arms. Next to them, may be someone who has two broken arms and two broken legs. They’re worse than you but it doesn’t fix the fact that you’ve got a broken arm."
In times like these I remind myself of my three cardinal rules of depressive episodes:
It’s ok to not be ok
Things will get better
Talk to someone about it
The biggest help to me right now, a step I've already taken and has immediately helped, is to tell someone, anyone. For me, this was opening up to people at work this time (hence the picture above). Ultimately, because when I'm in this position, I can summon the strength to put on a brave face and keep it together for patients, but I end up venting my frustrations on those around me. This isn't fair on them. Making them aware that I'm in that place again serves to take the pressure off me and helps them understand that it's me that's the problem, not them.
It’s taken me 33 years to get some understanding of this. I’ll be down for a few days, then by the end of the week I’ll be energised and ready to take on the world again. I know there will be light at the end of the tunnel and what's more, I usually tend to bounce back higher than I was before. I feel like I'm lucky in many ways that my suffering is limited to a few days every couple of months, this doesn't help me in those times though.
This is not a cry for help. This is me, being honest about being me. This happens sometimes. Life isn't always perfect Insta friendly smiles.
It is my sincerest hope that this post will offer solidarity to someone else in a dark moment and let them feel that it's ok to not be ok.
We are not alone.
We will come out of this.
We will be stronger for it.
I can’t express to you how difficult it has been to share this aspect of my life. I’m generally a very positive, upbeat and energetic person but it’s important to realise that life as a human is not lived in one constant plane.
If you are lucky enough to not suffer with any form of depression then I hope this gives you some insight into what life might be like for those around you at times.
If, like I, you live with depression, no matter how fleeting, know that you're not alone and things do get better.
Several times I have seen people post, share, retweet and like posts saying “it’s ok to talk about mental health” yet there still seems to be a lack of people actually talking about their mental health.
Say “it’s ok for you to talk about it” and saying “it’s ok for me to talk about it” are undoubtedly two different things.
If this post resonates with you at all please share it, or even better, share your own story. Maybe together we can show that it is ok to talk about our own mental health and not just throw empty words around.