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.

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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?

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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?

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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.

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Reactive vs Endogenous

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This particular post is one that was requested when I was asked what my trigger was for my depression.  It was something that not many people have heard about, as they don’t realise there are a couple of different types of depression, so the person I was talking to requested that I write an article about it.  Let’s have a look!

Reactive vs Endogenous

When I went to see the therapist for my CBT therapy, he did his best to try and find a trigger for my depression.  A lot of the time, there is something that has set it all in motion, which has triggered those feelings of sadness and, thus, culminated in the diagnosis of “depression”.  As he probed, asking question after question, he was increasingly puzzled as there was nothing forthcoming that seemed to be a trigger of any kind.  We went through an extensive list of different things that have happened in my life. Significant break-up?  Death in the family?  I’m sure you can imagine the sorts of questions.  In short, there was nothing.

I had no trigger.

Admittedly, I still haven’t found a trigger, we don’t know what has caused this yet.  Still, it led him to diagnose me with endogenous depression.  That, naturally, then led to the question: what is endogenous depression?  Well, let me tell you.

Reactive Depression

To explain what endogenous depression is, I must first explain reactive depression to you.  This one is the more common of the two and the one that people are more aware of.  According to, Reactive Depression is “An inappropriate state of depression that is precipitated by events in the person’s life arising as a consequence of severe life events.”  In other words, it is exactly what it says on the tin: reactive.

One of the most obvious examples to this would be a significant break-up. If your depression is caused because of that then it is known as reactive. Similarly, although it has to be distinguished from normal grief, depression as a result of a death in the family or someone close to you is also reactive.

In a nutshell, reactive depression is the most common type of depression that people identify.  There are almost always triggers for depression, some event that has precipitated the onset of depression.  This is true for most people, at least according to the therapist that I spoke to.

So what does that make endogenous depression?

Endogenous Depression

According to that same therapist, endogenous depression is the other side of the coin.  HealthLine says that it isn’t widely diagnosed, which is probably why not many people have heard of it.  I’d certainly never heard of it when my therapist mentioned it to me, which is probably where my own curiosity into it came from.

So, as far as what it says on the tin, endogenous depression is the opposite of reactive depression.  Endogenous, according to the dictionary, means: “not attributable to any external or environmental factor.”  With this in mind, it stands to reason that endogenous depression would, therefore, be a type of depression with no discernible cause.

My therapist says that’s what I have.

You see, out of all the normal questions that he has to ask, no answers were forthcoming.  For my depression, there seems to be no trigger at all, which suggests that it is endogenous.  Now – again, according to HealthLine – endogenous depression is usually put down to a combination of genetic, biological, psychological and environmental factors.  They say it occurs without any obvious trigger and the symptoms can often appear suddenly and for no apparent reason.

What Do You Think?

Do you think these two types of depression are basically the same thing? Do you think the professionals are making mountains out of molehills and over-complicating the situation?  It’s got potential.  Myself, I think I’m inclined to believe them…

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I am a High-Functioning Depressed Person

High-Functioning Depression

High-functioning depression is something that’s not talked about a lot.  Whenever I’m on social media, looking through some of the hashtags or talking to the different people on there, I find very few mentions of it.  It’s something I feel needs talking about.  So I’d like to tell you a bit about my depression and how I am a high-functioning depressed person.

When talking about depression, for those who haven’t experienced it personally, people often picture someone like Eeyore from Winnie-the-Pooh: someone who is gloomy, pessimistic and anhedonic.  If you think of the stereotype, it’s often someone who might look a bit like this:

Does that look familiar?  Your stereotypical, socially-perceived depressed person.  Well, what people don’t always realise is that there are two types of depression.

This one is known as low-functioning depression.  It’s what society commonly perceives to be “depression” and it’s where stigma creates one of the biggest problems for people who are depressed, because it’s “the way we should be”, even though that’s not the case.

The Reality of High-Functioning Depression

As you may have guessed, high-functioning depression is the complete opposite of low-functioning depression.  We don’t get stuck in the funk where we cannot do anything, we don’t spend hours upon hours trapped in our beds, we function more than that.  If anything, we appear to be normal members of society.  That does not, however, mean that we aren’t struggling.  Check out this article by amysboarderlineworld, which sums up what I’m trying to say quite nicely.

You see, we might appear to be normal, functioning members of society but that is an illusion, a myth we have created for others to see.  We struggle, perhaps just as much as someone with low-functioning depression.  We just continue along our lives as though nothing is wrong which, in turn, makes us seem like nothing is wrong.

That is the reality.  The struggle.  People see that we are “normal, functioning members of society” and assume that we are not depressed or anxious (as that’s the thing, it isn’t limited to depression).  Unfortunately, it’s the way it works, for people seem to think we are, for want of a better word, “normal”.

But we’re not.

I’m a High-Functioning Depressed Person

In reality, you won’t see me struggling.  I’m good at hiding it.  Very good at hiding it.  Look for it and you might miss it, because we get on with what we need to do.  I certainly do.  Even on the bad days, I’m frequently plodding along with whatever I need to do.  At work, back when I worked at the bank, I was often on a bad day yet no one knew.  Out of 100 employees who worked in the same office as me, only one person ever frequently picked up on my bad days.  In some cases, I’ve been on self-destructive bad days with blood leaking from self-harm wounds.  It’s not been pretty.

So high-functioning depression and anxiety is something we need more awareness of.  We need to get those discussions going!  In that vein, check out the post from The Mighty below, which will round off my point nicely.

We Cannot Continue to Overlook ‘High-Functioning’ Depression

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Make Believe Pretending

Did you ever play make believe as a child?  Dressing up in costumes, pretending to be something that you weren’t?  Perhaps it was a job that you wanted to do, such as a fireman or policeman, a builder or a businessman.  Maybe it was a fictitious character, such as Frodo Baggins or Gandalf, Luke Skywalker or Han Solo.  (Yes, you can see where my interests lie!)

GandalfPretending to be someone or something else was always fun.  It was something done frequently in our house.  Legendary warriors on mythical quests, Jedi fighting battalions of battle droids, whatever we were doing it was always something we enjoyed.  I’m sure you enjoyed it too if you did that as a child.

But what’s my point?  Why am I telling you about make believe?  Quite simply, I want to ask you a question: are we still pretending?

Pretending Now

Are we still pretending today?  Not the sort of make believe pretending that we did as children but one of a much more serious nature.  Instead of pretending to be hobbits or wizards, monsters or Jedi, people pretend that things don’t exist.  Depression, anxiety, bipolar, even things like homosexuality.  People simply adopt the mindset that they don’t exist.

Given how often we see or hear about these things in the news, I can imagine you’re wondering whether I’ve lost the plot somewhere.  How can I say that people pretend that things like mental illness and homosexuality don’t exist?  Quite simply: how often do they deny it?  How often do we see people pretend not to see something or acknowledge something that they don’t want to see or acknowledge?

Take this interview, for example.  Christian theologian and pop star Vicky Beeching recently came out as gay – something that is quite shocking for a lot of Christians, as homosexuality isn’t Biblical.  Check out the conversation between Vicky and evangelical pastor Scott Lively.

As you can see, Scott Lively refuses to acknowledge that homosexuality is a real thing.  He clearly labels it as a lie at 3:24, refusing to agree that homosexuality might be something real.  Now, this site wasn’t set up for combating the issues surrounding homosexuality but I think the same concept applies.

People are pretending.

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Mental Health and Pretence

In the world today, I see far too many occurrences of people pretending that mental health doesn’t exist.  Phrases like “it’s all in your mind” are commonplace, and people don’t believe that mental health is an issue.  As mentioned in Stipulating Stigma, the world is rife with mental health stigmatisation and people treat mental health as inferior to physical health.

They are pretending that it isn’t a serious problem.

Moreover, they are pretending that it isn’t happening to them or to anyone they know.  They would rather bury their heads in the sand and deny it ever existed than to face the issues surrounding it.

Do you agree?  Is it something that you’ve noticed or would you say I’m blowing a minor issue out of proportion?  I’d be interested to hear your comments.

Stop Pretending

So ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to stop pretending.

That’s right: it’s time to stop pretending!

Mental health – depression, anxiety, bipolar, insomnia – are all real issues in our world today.  1 in 4 people in the UK are diagnosed with some form of mental illness.  If that isn’t a major problem, what is?

So let’s take action.

Let’s stop pretending!

Let’s end the stigma and bring acceptance to mental health sufferers around the world.

We can do this!

It’s time.

So let’s stop pretending, let’s take action and let’s bring an end to the stigmatisation of mental health once and for all.  It’s not happening to someone else, it’s not a problem for someone else to deal with, it’s something for us.  We have to do it.  It’s our responsibility.  Ours alone.

You and Me.

Let’s stop pretending and make the change.

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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.

Existentialism vs Purpose – A Discussion

A Discussion of Existentialism

I have to be honest: I love it when people comment on my posts on Twitter.  After all, who doesn’t like having discussions or comments on their work?  For most, if not all of us, we enjoy receiving those positive and encouraging comments about what we’ve written or produced or drawn, etc.  But what about when we get into those not-so-nice comments?  Conversations where people do their best to put you and your work down?  Or, perhaps, conversations about existentialism versus purpose, as this post is about.

So let’s get started.

One thing that I firmly believe – something I’ve experienced for myself and heard stories from other people about – is that no matter what we’re going through, we can turn it into something good, a purpose, if you will.  I wrote about how I believe that everyone has a purpose and shared that belief with many other people.  It received a couple of interesting comments, on of which I responded to in my post A Comment On Purpose, explaining how I would go about finding that purpose.  More recently, however, that first post about purpose garnered this response on Twitter:

First off…what do you think of that?  Do you agree?  Do you disagree?  Why?

Needless to say, I disagree with the comment.  I’m sure you’ve got a fairly good idea of why I would disagree, but I would like to take a moment and just develop that point a little.

The Discussion

Ok ok, discussion might be putting it a little bit mildly.  Having looked at some of his tweets and replies, it seems that Space Needle Exchange really likes to argue.  Call it what you will, but some of his tweets do come across in that manner – which one or two of my own followers have commented on.  Even so, he makes his point that life has no inherent purpose.  According to him, not every life is worth living.

Now whether or not you agree with him, I find it quite an interesting point because, in some respects, it sounds very much as though we’re born to die and our lives don’t matter.  To support this theory, he cites the case of Genie, a feral child in LA.  He states that her life was meaningless, there was no purpose to it whatsoever.  After all, she was feral, she was a victim of one of the worst cases of child abuse ever recorded in the US and to this day no one seems to know what happened to her.  How could she possibly have a purpose?

In response to this, I argued that in actuality, would her purpose not have been that she was a driving force in getting governments and social services to respond to the horrible reality of child abuse?  As uncomfortable as it might be to think about, could one not argue that her suffering was made purposeful by the attention it garnered?  I’m not saying she was put on this earth to suffer, by any means.  But maybe there was a purpose in the end.

You see, in my post about finding purpose and also in Episode 14 of the podcast, I stated that purpose is not necessarily found in the situation itself but can come from after we’ve made it through.  Sometimes we might not ever make it through.  If you want to get religious, you could argue that Jesus came with the sole purpose of dying.  Likewise, there are people who would martyr themselves for a purpose.  Is it such a stretch of the imagination to believe that this poor girl, this feral child, might have had a purpose in her life after coming to the attention of the media?  Maybe, maybe not.


One point that I picked up on in that aforementioned tweet was how Space Needle Exchange argued that existentialism clearly wasn’t important to me.  Now, I’m not a philosopher, nor am I someone who goes around questioning the meaning of life (which is 42, by the way!) but I did some reading up about existentialism and believe I’ve found a fundamental flaw in his argument.  As far as I understand it (and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong), where existence precedes essence, it is argued that the actual life of the individuals makes up their “true essence” which seems to mean that human beings, through their own consciousness, determine a meaning to their life by creating their own values.

Does that not mean that we, as humans, create our own purpose?

Likewise, does that not also mean that our purpose can be what we make it?

By extension, as it does talk about consciousness, for people who are unable to create their own values, in the case of Genie, would that not suggest that we are able to influence the purpose of others as well?

I’d say so.  What do you think?

A Final Note

I should point out that the second post I mentioned – A Comment On Purpose – Space Needle Exchanged admitted he had not read it, nor was he going to.  He simply argued his point.

Me, I still believe everyone has a purpose.  We may not see it now.  Potentially, we may not see it at all.  But I still firmly believe that purpose is what we make it.  It’s subject to each individual case, but it is what we make of it.  If we’re going through the darkness, what do we do with that darkness?  We can give it a purpose by taking it and using it for good.

What do you think?  Let me know.  I am interested in your thoughts for this one.  Take heart from what I’m saying, though.  Take your darkness and turn it into purpose.  Don’t let people discourage you from finding that purpose because there is certainly something out there for you.

I took my struggle and I turned it into a purpose.  I turn it into a purpose every single day.  More than that, I believe everyone has it in them to do the same thing.  If they are somehow unable to, I believe others can do it for them.

Life is not inherently good, nor is it something that we should take for granted, but you can make it into something better.  You can do it.  So please, take heart from that.  Don’t let your struggle become your identity, remember instead that you can turn it into something good.

After all, we, through our own consciousness, define our own morals and values and, thus, determine the meaning to our lives.

So go determine that meaning.

Take care, guys!

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Dropping the Facade

Putting Up the Facade

Personally, I think facade is such an awesome word.  Granted, it’s from the French but not everything can be perfect can it?  (I have a degree in French, so I think I’m allowed to say that!)  Still, it’s an amazing word.  By definition, it means: a front or outer appearance, especially a deceptive one.  At least, that’s the definition that I’m using.

A person behind a mask.I’ve talked before in my journey about how I put up a mask, a facade of sorts.  It’s my way of keeping my depression hidden, my feelings all bottled in so that no one will notice.  As my goddaughter is a huge Frozen fan, the phrase “don’t let them in, don’t let them see” springs to mind. Whether you would associate that with Frozen or not, it’s what I do.  It’s a coping mechanism, allowing me to have those moments of privacy, without people asking what’s wrong and risking accentuating the problem.

Really, the facade is a lifeline, allowing me to try and convince you that I’m fine.  I talked about that back in November, when I talked about how I smile even though things might be bad.  The facade saves me, fools you and, consequently, fools me a little too.  Daft, I know, but it works.

“Why Don’t You Drop the Facade?”

I’ve lost count of the number of times people ask me this or I’ve heard other people struggling with this problem, so it’s about time I address it. It’s one of the hardest concepts for people who aren’t going through mental health struggles have to face.  They don’t understand it, which is something we need to address.  So here I am, let’s look.

It must be hard, seeing your sibling/partner/spouse/parent/child going through mental health struggles.  They want to make it better, to bring them some measure of comfort or to fix it.  That said, it’s not something they can necessarily fix, as I’ve said before.  It must be even harder, though, for them to want to help but be greeted with that rock-solid facade of pretence that hides how they’re truly feeling.  It must be difficult.

I once heard of someone who really didn’t understand why their spouse would put up the front.  They were married, why did they need a facade? Surely they could be open and honest about it without the need of that wall of pretence?

Simply put: it’s necessary.

We can’t just drop the facade.

It’s a part of us.

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My Mask and Me

As I’ve talked about in Masks and Masquerades, putting on a mask is part of the coping mechanisms that some of us employ in order to get through the day.  In my case, if I can convince you that I’m alright then I stand a chance of being able to convince myself that I’m alright.  It doesn’t always work but it’s one of the ways that I can try and get through.

For others, they will have different reasons why they put on the mask. Some will put it on to stave off any unwanted questions – that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and talk to them about it, though.  Others put it on because someone asking them how they are is the easiest way for them to go to pieces.  For every person, it’s a different reason and I couldn’t even begin to list them all here.  One thing remains true for all of us , though, no matter why we do it…

The mask is part of us.

Another person behind a mask.There comes a point in our struggles when we become used to the mask. Putting that facade up is almost habitual, something we can do without thinking and, as such, it becomes hard to take it off again.  Yes, people would appreciate it but sometimes it’s what we need to get us through the day.  Sometimes we just don’t have the strength to take it off because of how much a part of us it is.

My example comes directly from me, where people have asked me to take my mask off.  My mask is there because I use it to cope, to get through the day, and it’s easier maintaining a front than explaining how I’m feeling and why I’m feeling that way.  Sometimes explaining those things can be incredibly difficult.  I know I offer loads of explanations but, realistically, it’s something I can do from behind a computer screen as I can take my time, I don’t have to see the expressions on people’s faces.

A Simple Suggestion

If you’re a friend or family member struggling with this concept of a mask and how they put the mask on, I’d encourage you to simply be accepting of it.  At some point they might feel able to drop the facade and let you see that they’re hurting but it’s not always the case.  Sometimes that facade might be the only thing standing between them keeping it together and them falling apart.  So please be understanding and accepting that sometimes that’s what they need.

The facade, the mask is part of them.

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Wake Up!

Time To Wake Up!

Wake up people!  To all the friends and family members reading this, to the general public who think they know no one with depression, anxiety or other mental health issues, wake up!

We live in a world that is broken.  People struggle every single day in a myriad of different ways.  Financial stresses, housing problems, health problems that are both physical and mental and so much more.  I guarantee you right here, right now that as you’re reading this, someone you know is struggling with something.

But what do we do about it?

The time has come for us to wake up.  We need to get up, get active and start making a difference in this world!  After all, who else is going to do it?

The World of Mental Health

In our world, mental health is still highly stigmatised.  Around the world, people live with crippling mental health conditions that they keep hidden, fearing that others will treat them differently because of it.  People die from suicide every single day!  The average age for people starting to struggle with mental health issues like depression and anxiety is steadily going down, rapidly approaching pre-school ages!  Some even suggest it can affect preschoolers.  So at which point do we make the change?

To you, friends and family, we need to get behind people who are struggling.  We need to let them know they’re not alone and that they can rely on us for support.  Moreover, we need to recognise that it’s a long-term issue, one that won’t be fixed overnight.  We need to wake up to this!  Wake up!  Ostracising your family member or persecuting your friend for having depression won’t make them any better.  Refusing to acknowledge the problem won’t help them.  Only by offering your support will they get better.

To you, the people who believe you know no one who struggles with mental health, I call you out on that.  In the UK alone, 1 in 4 people struggle with mental health issues.  That guarantees that you know someone who is struggling.  Whether you want to admit it or not, you know someone.  Wake up!  Do you hear me?  Wake up and realise that you know someone who has depression or anxiety or some other mental illness.

Wake Up and Make the Change

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, the onus is on us!  We need to get up and make the change because no one will do it for us.  We need to wake up and realise that the only people who can make a difference, the only people whose job it actually is, is you and me.

That’s right: you and me.

No one else is going to do it.  And you know what?  It isn’t a job for anyone else.  Friends, family members, employers, support workers, government employees, whatever your walk in life, it is up to YOU to do it.  You need to campaign for better mental health services, you need to realise that it is a serious issue, you need to start making the change now.

Not tomorrow.

Not next year.



You never know…someone’s life might depend on it.

So wake up!

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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.