If you have never suffered with depression (of any sort) or been affected by someone close having suffered, you could be forgiven for thinking that there is a specific ‘type’ that gets depression. You know the sort, they are not very confident, struggle to make friends, (add here any of your own preconceived ideas!), they wallow in self-pity, no get up and go etc etc. This is not the case, depression is an illness and like any other illness it can affect ANYONE, that means you, your partner, your mum, dad, brother, sister, your grandparents, your best friend anyone.
I think it is all too easy to assume that people who are successful or appear very ‘together’ could not possibly suffer a mental illness, for a start they don’t have anything to worry about, do they? A friend of mine’s husband suffered a breakdown and she and him were both very shocked as they thought ‘this doesn’t happen to people like us’ . There has been quite a lot on the news lately about famous people suffering depression, or other types of mental illness and I’m sure there are people who think they are looking for attention, I, on the other hand hope that they will recover soon. Freddy Flintoff leads a documentary tomorrow (Wednesday) about depression in sport he not only talks about his own depression but he also talks to some other top sports personalities about their own struggles with the illness, I think this will be a really good think to watch. Freddie Flintoff: The Hidden Side of Sport. Many people say about someone who maybe has a lot, ‘what do they have to be depressed about?, but depression is not about what you have and have not got, it’s about whats going on in your mind, that’s whats ill, just like if you had a broken arm, or asthma, they are not exclusive to who they effect.
Depression is not what many people think, it’s not about someone crying all the time, wallowing in self-pity, not being able to leave the house (although these can be some of the symptoms) it goes deeper than that. You feel unable to connect to people, you feel that everyone is against you and everything is your fault, you feel there is no way out of this deep dark hole that you have found yourself in. You also feel an emptiness inside your emotions seem to have gone and its so hard to know how to get them back. So sometimes you are able to seem bright any breezy and happy, but often inside you feel nothing, many people with depression wear a mask to hide from the world how they really feel.
Time to Change is hoping that by getting people talking about mental health then more people will not need to suffer in silence, because anyone who keeps their illness to themselves is suffering in silence, something most people would not do with a physical illness. Take a look at their site and see whats going on in your area and see if you can get involved and start talking about mental illness, in talking about it you won’t get ill yourself (it’s not catching!) but you may help someone who needs that support and compassion.
So next time someone you know appears down or says they are struggling, or their behaviour seems out of character, talk to them and see if they need some support, don’t think about whether they have the ‘right’ to be depressed or struggling, just talk.
If you want information on any mental health issue then the Mind website is great it covers everything for those suffering and for those caring.