The Face of Depression

An Impassive Face

One technique that I use to cope when I’m around people, particularly people I know, is that I try and keep an impassive face.  I try and make sure there is no feeling out there, no outward emotion, nothing.  It wards off any unwanted questions.  You know the sort I’m talking about.

A person behind a mask.Previously, I’ve told you about my mask and how I use things like humour to keep people from seeing what’s really inside.  It’s something I do a lot and this impassiveness is a part of it as well, though one i don’t talk about as much.  You may have noticed it, you may not.  Anyway, I’m not going to talk much about my mask because I’ve written enough about that.

This is different.

This is about the face of depression.

The Assumed Face

You might be thinking I’ve lost the plot slightly but hear me out on this one.  You see, I hear it a lot on our social media accounts that people are under the illusion that they can detect a depressed person.  Call it similar to gaydar, where people think they can detect a gay person.  Personally, I think gaydar is a load of rubbish no matter what people tell me, although I will acknowledge that some people make it a little easy to work out!  Anyway, that’s beside the point.

My point is that people think depression has a face.

I remember having a conversation with one of my managers at my old job to tell him that I was struggling.  I clearly remember him looking surprised and saying, “I wouldn’t have guessed!  If you had been put in a line-up with nine other people and I’d been told that one person of those ten was depressed, you’d have been the last person I’d have picked!”

What does that even mean?  How can someone look depressed?  I suppose people will imagine someone looking like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, that gloomy, anhedonic character with the glum, flat voice.  They believe that that is the face of depression, that everyone who suffers is a lot like that.  Is that your experience as well?  Do people expect you to be like this?

That perception couldn’t be further from the truth.

The True Face of Depression

The true face of depression is a hard one.  Why?  Because really, there isn’t one.  Some people will look like Eeyore, it is possible.  They won’t go out, they won’t smile, they won’t show much interest or pleasure in anything.  Others, however, will look very different.  Like the picture on the right.  Most of you will recognise my face there.  I’m smiling.  I seem happy.  Yet, I am depressed.  I am medicated.  A lot of the time, I really struggle.

Where is the face of depression?

What about this image?  Cheryl, dressed up as a mermaid for a Halloween party.  She’s smiling, isn’t she.  If anything, you’d say she looks happy.  Surrounded by family – her daughter and son are just off camera in this photo – she looks as though she’s having a great day.  The reality?  She has depression.  She has anxiety.  Like me, she is also medicated and she struggles.  Perhaps far more than either of us care to admit, we struggle.

Where is the face of depression?

You see, the sad truth is that there is no “face of depression”.  It’s a myth, cultivated by the media and society to make them feel better about mental illness.  Realistically, as I mentioned earlier, it is about as real as this “gaydar” that people talk about.  Yeah, some people give off vibes that practically scream “I’m gay” but there are still plenty of people out there we surprise us when we find out they’re gay.  And it’s the same as depression.

So next time someone admits to you that they’re depressed, don’t ask them what they have to be depressed about.  Don’t tell them they don’t look depressed.  Moreover, don’t assume that we’re fine just because we look happy.

After all: all it takes is a beautiful fake smile to hide an injured soul.  They will never notice how broken you really are.

Depression has no face.  So don’t assume.

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.


Do You Want to Change the World?

How To Change the World

Make your bed.  I know, not something that sounds very groundbreaking or earth-shattering, but William H. McRaven says that if you want to change the world, start by making your bed.  That way, you will have accomplished the first task of the day.

How often do we, as mental health sufferers, say that we need things to change?  We need people to get on-board and support us through our illnesses.  No one really talks about mental health, it’s too stigmatised, we can’t do it alone, yet no one cares.  How often have you heard those words?  We want to change the world.  We want to raise that all important awareness for mental health so that people will not suffer as we have suffered.  Don’t we?

But how do we do that?

We start by making our bed.  Check out the video below and see what William H. McRaven has to say about that.

Time to Change the World

So do you want to change the world?  Do you really want to change the world?  I think we’ve got everything we need right there to change the world.  Here’s what I took from it:

  1. We need to start by making our bed.  Accomplish the little tasks, that way we will have the courage and the determination to accomplish the bigger tasks but, either way, we will have accomplished something.  No matter how small the accomplishment seems, it is still an accomplishment.
  2. Lift others up.  Encourage them, support them and raise them up.  Empower them to make the change and they will go and make that difference.
  3. One voice became two.  Two voices became three.  So on and so forth.  If we raise our voices together, we can become unstoppable.  Together, we can make that difference but only together.  Only together.  We need to stand as one, joining in that song together so that we can change the world.
  4. Accept that you will fail and that you might fail often.  You will go through relapses.  As long as you don’t stay at rock bottom, you can survive.  You can get through.  It’s alright to fail, as long as you don’t stay there.
  5. Finally, hold onto hope.  As hard as it can seem, hope is there, despite what our mental illnesses tell us.  Hold on, pain ends.  Hope and you can achieve.
The Starfish

I want to leave you with a little story that I think fits in quite nicely here.

Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing.  He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work.  Early

one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.

Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching.  As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea.  The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning!  May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”

The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”

The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”

adapted from The Star Throwerby Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)

Let’s go change the world!

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Episode 29 – Depression the Emptiness

*Trigger Warning – This episode deals with self-harm.*

A lot of people would associate depression with sadness.  For me, that isn’t the case.  Depression tends to lean more towards the emptiness.  A numbness.  A Harrowing Void that I can’t shake, no matter how hard I try.  That’s what depression typically means for me, but there’s more to it.  Why not join me and find out?

Useful Links:

The Harrowing Void
I Am Cut
Episode 7 – Self-Harm

Join Us:


Support us at Patreon!

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Workplace Workout

In the Workplace

What job do you do?  It’s a question we commonly face, isn’t it?  At those large social gatherings where there are lots of people who don’t know each other, it’s one of the staple questions for anyone trying to make the infamous “small talk”.  Do we have a family, what do we do for a living, perhaps what kinds of interests we have.  But…what about how our job is?  We get asked sometimes whether we enjoy it but…what if the workplace sucks?  Do we answer that one honestly?  Perhaps not.

What kind of workplace do you work in, then?  Does it have a good environment?  Hopefully you enjoy the job that you do, but sadly there are a lot of us who don’t.  For some, turning up to work is a chore, something that they do only to earn their keep.  They arrive, do their job, pack up, go home, then repeat the next day.  It might not be the fault of the workplace, it might just be them.  But nowadays there seems to be an awful lot of workplaces that people say aren’t quite as good as they should be.

So what am I writing about here?  Well, unfortunately it’s not to campaign for an overall overhaul of the workplace.  That, I’m afraid, is not something that can happen.  We can’t magically make everyone like their jobs as there are still jobs out there that no one wants to do.  Instead, I’m focusing on one particular aspect of employment.  Have you guessed it yet?

Mental health.

Mental Health in the Workplace

At the moment, it seems as though workplaces have a bad reputation as far as mental health is concerned.  It’s given an inferior place to physical health and colleagues with mental health issues always seem to feel discriminated against.  At least, that’s as far as people’s experiences and the conversations that I’ve had with them seem to go.  There just doesn’t seem to be that overall support for mental health.

In October 2017, the Guardian published an article stating that roughly 300,000 people with a long-term mental health problem lose their jobs each year.  Paul Farmer, Mind’s chief executive, and former HBOS chair Dennis Stevenson authored the Thriving At Work report, which was published with all the budgetary figures and other important information regarding this claim.  They were shocked by the findings, but put part of the problem down to stigma.  It’s almost as if mental health is still a dirty little secret that people have to hide.  They also believe there is a lack of support and a lack of understanding within some workplaces, along with a lack of quick access into mental health services.  Feelings of exclusion or isolation are also common phenomena.

Does this sound about right?  Are those words describing how you feel?  Perhaps, if you’re an employer reading this, it describes how some of your workforce feels.

But what can we do about it?

A Workplace Workout

Is it time to give your workplace a workout?  Stretch those cramped muscles and rejuvenate your workforce and give your employees that sense of value or sense of belonging that they might need.  It sounds difficult, particularly with mental health being such a taboo topic no one talks about, but it is possible.

One thing that I would recommend above all others is that you listen to the needs of your employees.  Despite this culture where we have to get medical professionals involved and get their stamp of authority on everything, the person actually going through the struggle themselves will be more of an expert.  They will know what sorts of things help them, what things don’t, how their individual conditions affect them and so on.  If anything, the doctor will be able to give you the technical know-how and the authoritative stamp, but the patient will be better suited to tell you what they think they need.  Then, it’s up to you.

What are they asking for?  Is it too much to put into place?  Perhaps find the compromise.  After all, the majority of employees with mental health struggles aren’t expecting you to move mountains for them.  They realise that they can’t get everything that they might want, they know there are things that they will have to compromise on.

So what can you do?  Realistically, getting occupational health involved is one of the best things you can do.  They are the trained professionals equipped to assess the employees and determine the best course of action.  Yes, there is a cost involved in bringing them in but surely that cost is less than the cost of your employee going off sick?  As for their suggestions or recommendations, again: is it going to cost you more if your employee goes off sick?  Have a careful think before you decide they are too much trouble.

Workplace Experiences

Those of you who follow my journey will have seen how my mental health affected my time at work.  Looking back, I’m still fairly adamant that I’d still be there if the right things had been put in place.  If occupational health had been brought in, if adjustments had been made, I might have been able to cope.  Instead, the employer decided that it was better to let me, as a temporary employee, go.  Whether that was legal or not, I’m still not certain, but they decided that was their best course of action.

Now take Cheryl as an example.  After an extended period of sickness, she’s returned to work – in the same place that I was.  In all honesty, it’s been a disaster.  She’s been back for four weeks and a lot of things haven’t quite gone according to plan.  Occupational health is only just getting involved, she’s not had a return to work, her manager has been so distant he’s almost not there and she’s been exhausted practically every day from the battle she’s having to fight to get in.  You can check out her experiences in First Day Fears, Educating Employers, Fumbling Through, Time to Talk and Got to Fight For It to find out more information.

The Short Version

In short, you as an employer need to listen to your employee.  Find out what they need and make those reasonable adjustments.  It will cost you less in the long run and help them continue to work for you.  Get occupational health involved and ensure your front line managers are equipped to deal with mental health issues in colleagues.  As mentioned in the report in the Guardian, a lot of people end up losing their job because of a lack of support.  And that’s not just a statistic; I am one of those people.  So please, employers, support your employees.  You could make a difference to them!

Time for that workplace workout.  Need more support?  There are plenty of resources out there, in the form of individuals and organisations who would be happy to help you, myself being one of them.  Go on, give us a chance.  Who knows what a difference it could make?

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.


Scream – the Song

Music.  Songs.  Lyrics.  Melodies.  I’ve mentioned previously how much music can connect with me and be therapeutic for me.  More often than not, the music can soothe us, give us something to relate to.  As the image to the right says: we want someone to explain the things we can’t.  So that’s where my post about the song Scream comes in.

As I write this, it’s not a good day.  I’m feeling that Harrowing Void I talk about, rather strongly.  So what do I do?  I turn some music on.  Now, I can’t just listen to albums anymore, I have to put them on shuffle.  I like the randomness of it, not knowing what’s coming next.  I have playlists and albums and individual songs and so much that I can turn to (I have something like 6600 songs on my iPod!!).  Does this sound familiar?  Anyway, as I’m sat here feeling awful, a song comes on and it captures something that’s been going through my mind for a little while now.

It’s called Scream.

Feeling Invisible

Over on our Community Page, on 10/03/2018, we featured a post from Katie called Feeling Invisible.  It was something that grabbed my attention as I was looking for content, because it spoke so clearly to something that I’d thought over the past few weeks.  My thought was: if you had cancer or some other physical illness, people would be checking in and asking how you were; with mental illness, all you can see are tumbleweeds.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are some awesome people out there who notice when you disappear, who notice when you’re not around and, perhaps more importantly, who notice when you’re not doing so good.  Cheryl is one of those people and I have another friend called Andrew who is another.  These people are worth millions because they are there when you need them, putting themselves at the back of the line to ensure you get what you need.

Despite having those people around, however, it can feel like you’re invisible.

All too often, people don’t seem to care.  I go through my Twitter or Google+ daily and see cries for help under the various hashtags; people saying they’re stuck in that proverbial rut, unable to cope and needing a bit of help.  And the worst part?  Their posts have practically no comments or anything.

It’s like they’re invisible.

With social media being so crowded with so many people vying for space, it can be difficult to get our voices out there, to make them heard.


That’s probably why I related so well to this song.  By ZOEGirl, it is an amazing song that talks about that invisibility that we can feel.  The lyrics to Scream, I find, are so powerful.  The opening verse, for starters, says: “Does anybody know how I feel?  Sometimes I’m numb, sometimes I’m overcome.  Does anybody care what’s going on?  Do I have to wear my scars like a badge on my arm for you to see me, I need release…”

ZOEGirl album cover for Scream.Perhaps more powerful than that, the chorus says:  “Do I have to scream for you to hear me?  Do I have to bleed for you to see me?  ‘Cause I grieve, you’re not listening to me.  Do I need to scream?”

How often have you felt like that?  Can you relate?  Desperate for the help, we feel like we want to scream, like we want to bleed so people will notice.  It’s perhaps one of the reasons why self-harm so frequently gets labelled as a cry for help, because it seems to be the only way that we can be heard.

We have to scream.

You Don’t Have To Scream

Those of you reading this, feeling as though you relate…you don’t have to scream.  Knowing what it’s like going through this hell, I’m here for you.  I will listen.  You don’t have to scream for me to hear you, you don’t have to bleed for me to see you.  I will listen.

You don’t have to scream.

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Who is to Blame When I Self-Harm?

The Blame Game

With the current ‘where there’s blame, there’s a claim’ culture, there seems to be a notion that someone is always to blame when things go wrong. Finger-pointing and trying to make someone culpable has become the norm. But who is to blame when I self-harm? It’s actually a more complicated subject then you might think.

You see, on one hand I would say well, I am to blame of course! I pick up the implement to cut, I make the marks. No-one does this for me. It’s my fault. (Which is why I probably apologise repeatedly when it happens!)

However, there is another side of this I’ve come across.  Some people who self-harm and blame it directly on another individual or group of people. It almost comes across as ‘look at what you made me do’. Each cut or injury has someone’s name attached to it in a very deep and personal way. To the person who has self-harmed like this, they focus the blame entirely elsewhere. To me, this seems a dangerous way of thinking and teeters very close to harming for attention seeking purposes. Almost calling out someone else and laying the blame at their door for your own actions. Is that self-harm due to depression or a cry for attention? I’ll be honest, I don’t know, it doesn’t jibe with my own experience and the experiences of others I’ve spoken to. Most self-harmers do their level best to hide the fact they do it and turn any blame only against themselves.

Bullying and Blame

You see, when we start attributing blame either on to ourselves or others, we are not looking at the real issue.

When I wrote Words Hurt, I really wanted to bring home the damage that can be done by bullying and name calling. How such behaviours can be contributory factors in depression and suicide. They are. There is no escaping that fact. But are the bullies completely to blame?

Now, some would argue yes and I can see why. When you lose someone to suicide after months and months of relentless on-line bullying, the feeling would be to lay all blame solely at the door of the bullies. Their behaviour led to that death.

But is that the whole story?

The reality is that by tapping into the blame game, we lose sight of something very important. Depression is an illness. Self-harm and suicidal feelings are symptoms of this illness. Not everyone who suffers will experience them, but for those who do it can be devastating. Likewise, not everyone who is or has been bullied will develop depression. Nor will all of those who do, then go on to harm themselves in some way.

This doesn’t completely absolve those individuals who bullied and persecuted someone else. Depression and anxiety can be triggered by trauma like this and when in a depressive state where suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self harm are already lurking it can be a very small step to cross the line.

I can recognise incidents in my own life that have occurred that have resulted in a situation where my depressive state was worsened by the actions of another. To be already teetering on a knife-edge over the abyss and then someone says something hurtful or cruel? Yes, it can have an impact. But does that mean every time someone hurts me I run to the nearest blade? No.


The difference is down to resilience. Mental health issues like depression and anxiety can rob us of resilience. There are times as sufferers we have more, other times we have none. Is someone else to blame because an illness has robbed us of our resilience? No. They may have contributed to our feelings of low self-esteem and self-loathing, but the illness is preventing us from dealing with these effectively.

I agree that more needs to be done to stop bullying. It’s pervasive and corroding and is doing untold damage to people. But maybe we also need to work on building our own resilience up too from an early age and look out for others who are lacking it. Each time we let an act of bullying go by without correcting it we are allowing the corrosion to continue. We are knocking another chip off the wall that someone should have to protect themselves inside. Each time we sit by and let it happen we are allowing the dissemination of someone elses’ mental health, sometimes even our own.

So, who is to blame when I self-harm?

That’s where it becomes complex. I am, but due to an illness that robs me of resilience. In turn, my resilience can be diminished and destroyed by the actions of others. This can be from one event or the culmination of lots of little injuries that have eroded my self-esteem over the years. Either way, the answer to the question ‘who is to blame when I self-harm?’ comes with a lot of answers. Me, you, no-one and everyone? Or do we lay it all at the door of the label of depression and mental illness? I think it’s all of these, combined. No one person is to blame. What we need to look at is understanding more why it happens, work with our children and each other to stop judging and commenting when people are ‘different’ and treat ourselves a little more kindly too.

After all when it comes down to it, when the question a sufferer asks is ‘who is to blame when I self-harm?’, they’ll be a lot of names including their own in the answer.

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.


Episode 28 – Depression the Darkness

Typically, people might think of darkness when they think of depression.  Most images associated with depression or depression quotes will be black-and-white images, won’t they?  With dark, “depressing” quotes.  Yet to a lot of us who go through it, depression can be perceived as darkness.  Almost like a tunnel without that light.  Join me for my next take on what depression means to me: darkness!

Useful Links:

Judy – The Interview
I Had A Black Dog, His Name Was Depression

Join Us:


Support us at Patreon!

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

A Protected Bubble

Protected, Life In a Plastic Bubble

Have you heard of The Boy in the Plastic Bubble?  From 1976, the film stars John Travolta and is about a boy who was born with a dysfunctional immune system.  Contact with normal, unfiltered air might kill him, and so he has to live in conditions that can only be described as like an incubator.  If he emerges, he might die.  As such, he has to live his life inside that bubble, protected from the things that might cause him harm or kill him.

Now why the bubble?  What could that possibly have to do with mental health, I hear you ask?  After all, it’s not as if we are contagious or like the world outside will kill us if we come into contact with it.  So what is it?

The answer: protection.

More often than not, when I talk to people on our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Imgur accounts, I hear stories that have very similar themes.  People open up about their mental health conditions and others start to treat them differently.  Granted, not everyone does so, but there are definite examples of when people treat them differently.  What am I referring to?  Simply, those friends who will distance themselves and rarely talk.  Others who will almost shun them because they “have a mental health condition”.  In this case, however, it’s more specifically those that suddenly treat us as though we’re fragile.

To Protect Us

Do you find that people start treating you as though you’re made of glass?  After you’ve said, “Yep, I’ve got depression/anxiety/bipolar/etc”, it’s as though you’ve suddenly become that boy in the plastic bubble?  People who would confide in you suddenly stop doing so.  Others who might use you as a sounding board for their problems, or who might come to you for advice start to look elsewhere.

Slowly, one by one, they all abandon you.  Why?

For your protection.

Now, don’t get me wrong, sometimes that’s what we need.  We have the struggles of our own mental health and own life events to worry about, do we need the added pressure of other people’s lives on top of that?  Not always, no.  For some, that might actually succeed in making them feel more anxious.  But is that the case for everyone?  I don’t believe so.

There are two points that I want to make here, ones that I firmly believe in and hope that everyone else will have heard of at least once:

  1. We are exactly the same person that we were before we disclosed our mental health conditions to you.
  2. We might be sick, but that does not mean we’re weak.

Have you seen those words on social media or heard them from someone?  I know I have.  But what do they mean for us?  Us, as friends and family members of people who suffer.

I’m the Same Person

Believe it or not, I’m exactly the same person I was before you knew about my mental illness.  For the majority of us, once we are diagnosed, we don’t normally go shouting our condition from the rooftops.  Stigma tends to keep a pretty good wrap on that one!  If we’ve told you we are struggling, whatever that might be with, the chances are we’ve been suffering for a few weeks, maybe a few months or, if we’re really secretive and private, a few years!  So why should we be different now?

Realistically, we’re not.  We are the same person.  You just know a different aspect of us, the same way you might come to my house and suddenly discover I love Star Wars and Star Trek.  I don’t shout about it or advertise it, but it’s a part of me.  With that in mind, why exactly do people stop sharing problems with us or hide bad days from us?  To spare us?

Protected From Problems

I can understand that people would want to protect us from their problems.  After all, there is always that fear of making things worse for us, especially those of us who struggle with mental health.  The line “but I don’t want to make you worse” is often dragged out as the reasoning behind someone declining our offer of help.  It’s understandable that people would feel this way but is it justifiable?


Granted, there will be times when we can’t handle someone else’s problems on top of our own.  We all have those days where everything is going wrong, where we can’t handle everything being thrown at us.  I get that frequently in my journey.  That doesn’t mean I can’t support you, even in a limited capacity.  Protecting me from your problems isn’t necessary.  If I can’t handle it, then I can’t handle it but realistically it won’t make me worse.  My mood might dip for a moment or half an hour or something, but it cannot and will not make me worse than I already am.

This is definitely an approach subjective to each individual, but I find hiding those problems for fear of making me worse can actually be the cause of that feared harm.  If I pick up on the fact that someone is struggling but hiding it from me, it kicks my mind into overdrive, telling me they don’t value me, that my help isn’t good enough, that I can’t fix their problems.  The list goes on.  Even though I know these aren’t true and that the problem, in this case, lies with me (in what I’m thinking), it doesn’t stop them from coming.  I still fear the reasoning behind why you’re keeping the problems from me.

So What Am I Saying?

What am I saying?  At the end of the day, keeping us inside that plastic bubble will prevent us from growing.  How can we learn to cope with different stressors in addition to our conditions if people keep things from us and prevent us from helping?  For those of us who find relief in helping others, how are we meant to find that relief?  While it’s definitely a subjective approach to each individual – as some won’t be able to handle it – it’s something that people need to consider seriously.

As Cheryl has stated previously, perhaps we are never meant to be complete but, instead, we can be broken together.  Even in our collective weaknesses, we can find strength and get each other through.  We don’t have to be whole, we don’t have to have it all together or know where we’re going.  It’s OK.


We don’t have to be kept in that plastic bubble to survive.

We can be broken together.

So please, don’t feel like you’re burdening us.  You tell us we’re not a burden, well neither are you.  So can we just be broken together?

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

How do you Parent when you Have Depression?

Parenting with Depression

After reading a blog post by one of our Twitter followers, Lucy, where she talks about the ugliness of depression, it got me thinking about when you are a parent and battling with mental illness. In the post she talks about the realities of how awful it can be, the terrible effects it has on her and how it can fool her into thinking she’s failing as a wife and mother.

As a mum, I can relate, when my depression hits hard I am my own harshest critic; I withdraw myself and feel like I’m a failure at every aspect of family life, disappointing my children and letting everyone down. It’s awful because such feelings often only serve to drive me further into the darkness. So when you are fighting a battle with your mind like this, how do you hope to be an effective parent?

Ask for Help

Asking for help is something I personally struggle with, I find it difficult to believe that anyone would be willing to help me. (My own dark passenger does its very best to convince me that nobody would care, so why bother asking?) I’m sure you can relate! But it’s something that I am learning to do, because it’s not just a benefit to me, but to my children as well. Having a parent with depression can take its toll on kids and having someone to talk to or somewhere they can get a break is necessary.

So where can you get help? Most of these may seem logical, but it’s surprising how much we become blinkered when we’re in a depressive state.

  • The other parent– whether you are together or not, both parents are responsible for their children and their well-being. It’s OK to admit you need assistance where necessary, so if that’s getting your other half to take on some extra chores or if you’re not together, then encouraging (where appropriate) them to take kids out for the day, handing over the reigns for a bit can be a huge help.
  • The Wider Family- Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, Sisters and Brothers, they’re your in built support network. I don’t know where I’d be without my parents and their enthusiasm for having the children over for a sleepover! Likewise, being able to talk to my sister is hugely important, even if it’s just to vent about my teenager and his dramas, it helps.
  • Friends- OK, this one depends on the type of friendship you have. For you friends out there who are supporting someone with mental illness you may be afraid of getting lumped with someone else’s children.  It really doesn’t have to be anything as big as that. Popping in for a coffee, or just running an errand for someone who is struggling is more helpful than you think.
  • Your Local Family Centre- I cannot sing the praises of these wonderful institutions highly enough. They are an excellent way to access social service assistance, are brilliant for meeting other parents and carers, simply put they can be a life line! Many offer free courses which you can attend with your child, like children’s cookery or craft, or alternatively offer adult courses with a crèche for a small fee. It may seem silly, but doing something simple like making stuff from toilet roll tubes in a safe environment can be good for you and your child.

Now these are just some of the places I’ve found help, it’s not an exhaustive list but I hope it reminds you that the help is there.

Surviving the Dark Days

So there are going to be days when depression is crushing you, you can’t face going out and maybe your usual route of help isn’t there. What do you do? Take today, for example, for no apparent reason I have woken up with what feels like crushing weights on me. I don’t want to talk, or move. Everything just feels hopeless and futile. I just want to lie in bed and be away from the world.

But I can’t. I have phone calls to make, my 3 year old needs breakfast, there’s shopping to do, washing that is getting urgent, bathrooms in need of cleaning and hoovering to do. It sucks. The list of tasks is daunting and I feel like even more of a failure because so far all I’ve managed to do is to serve up a bowl of Weetabix that my daughter has refused to eat and mashed all over herself and the table.

My advice to me and to you, is give yourself a break.

You can’t will yourself to get out the door for the picnic you promised your child you’d go on today? Put the blanket on the living room floor and have your picnic inside. Cooking is too daunting a prospect? Order a pizza. Junk food occasionally won’t kill you or your children. Sod the cleaning for today.

My point is that you are battling an illness, you are not expected to be supermum or superdad. What’s more important to your family is that you are there, in their lives. Toys, gadgets and days out are never going to be as important as you being in your children’s life. My son and I often talk about how fond his memories are of what we called ‘duvet and Disney days’. We’d take over the sofa with blankets and cushions, stay in our pj’s and eat rubbish while ploughing through movie after movie. It’s only as he’s gotten older that he now recognises that those days were my way of coping in a depressive spiral with a small child. It didn’t hurt him, in fact it’s a treasured part of his childhood and it got me through.

I still have really bad days, there’s probably more to come after this one. But I’m surviving, with 2 wonderful, compassionate and well balanced children. And if I can do it, even if today is a day where I parent in pyjamas, you can too.

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Episode 27 – Depression the Comforter

What brings you comfort?  Some might find a blanket or a particular blanket comforting.  I find that there is an odd comfort in my depression.  It sounds strange, but there is a good reason for me saying that.  Why not take a listen with me and find out?

Join Us:


Support us at Patreon!

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.