Alternative title: Please don’t ever tell me to “just pretend to be happy” … Because the ‘happy’ you want me to be is a poisoned chalice.
I make no secret of the state of my Mental Health, heck there is a whole category for it right here on this blog … And recently, it has been quite the state. My Depression has taken me into a free fall of intrusive thoughts, self loathing, thoughts of self harm, I’ve shed countless tears without really knowing why … So, as you can imagine, to be told to “just pretend to be happy” instead of receiving support threw me straight into the realms of isolating myself. It gave my Depression exactly what it wanted.
I’m not entirely sure what’s worse … The fact this instruction was given so nonchalantly or the fact that because of that one sentence, I actually felt ashamed of myself for having this illness. Because yes, Depression is an illness.
Do you really think I choose to be this way? If I could click my fingers right this moment and never feel the taste of Depression again, don’t you think I’d do that? In fact, I’d also click my fingers and make my thyroid start producing hormones again! Oh, and maybe when I get aura I could click my fingers and the Migraines would stop!
Wouldn’t that be marvellous? I could finally be free of those pesky thyroxine meds, anti-depressants and painkillers all at once … Because surely this method would apply to all illnesses right?
But you know what, it doesn’t work that way. Trust me I’ve tried, like Dorothy clicking those beautiful red shoes together … I have tried. And when that failed I called Mind’s Matter for a referral, I called my GP’s office to discuss medication, I confided in my friends, my family, my boyfriend, my yoga instructor (no I’m not joking, she’s a damned good listener!). Hell I even started trying alternative therapies in an attempt to battle this demon. To at least put up a fight in a situation in which giving up sounds like a bloody good option at times.
I sometimes wonder if it would be easier to just stop fighting …
But I won’t.
Now … This next bit will sound really strange but through all this it made me realise that I should probably thank you. And yes, my thank you is sincere. That throw away statement made me feel so much disgust, embarrassment and shame for myself … And for you. I’d like to say it is ignorance or naivety … I really would. Instead I’m going to give it it’s real name – Stigma.
Stigma, in case you’re wondering, is “a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person“.
So … Thank you. Thank you for showing me that there is still so much work left to do to raise awareness of Mental Health issues because I am not going to stop talking, writing, screaming about Depression (or Anxiety, or BDD, or OCD for that matter!) until it is seen for the devastating, dangerous illness that it really is.
PS – I’ve said this before but if any of you reading this are struggling or considering harming yourself please please please reach out. Please don’t hide! It’s scary but you are not alone, I know it feels like that at times but you really aren’t alone. Speak to a friend, a family member, a GP, a therapist, the Samaritans, Mind, anyone …