Always Look On the Bright Side?
One of the ironies that has struck me with my life is that so many people perceive me as bubbly, out-going, the talkative one at any party. So many of my friends (and I think my colleagues too) find it hard to believe I have depression. I do everything I can to help others when they’re down, no matter what I try to find the positive and look for the bright side. No matter how dark things are I try to make it that it’s not all doom and gloom.
I’ll admit, a lot of the time this is a mask. I won’t let people see when I’m struggling. Even to those nearest and dearest, I fear letting them see because I don’t want people to worry about me. More often than not my concern is that I don’t want to bring them down. I’ll give you an example; a few days ago Alex was really struggling with depression. It had been knocking him about and most of the day I’d been trying to buoy him as much as I could. But what I didn’t say was that I was having a really rough time too, I’d had a call saying a relative was extremely ill and it had triggered so many memories of my dad that it was physically painful. I didn’t say anything until I got to the point that I broke down in tears.
Talking is Important
Normally, I can share pretty easily with Alex. The fear of tipping him over on that day prevented me from speaking out. For want of a better word I stuck him in a protective bubble because I was terrified of making him worse. When I finally did crack and we talked, what we both found was that by talking to each other, it helped us both. It’s this that I want to focus on.
It’s why so many people find support on Twitter and other social media. They can express their feelings to others, they can talk and get the darkness that’s inside out. Someone asked me recently whether by writing on a blog about mental health issues it is actually counter-productive to healing. The idea was that by writing about depression and anxiety, we can become permanently mired in it. To those that think like that, I suggest you go on and look at what is in the news feed on Twitter under #depression and #mentalhealth. What you find is that it’s not all doom and gloom. I regularly see encouragement, support, people just getting alongside complete strangers and talking to them about what’s going on in their heads. These are people writing about their own experiences with depression, be it blogs or vlogs or as published authors. Their mental health does not define them. They use Twitter to be there for others who are struggling. It’s what Alex does every day, from when he turns on the P.C in the morning to when he closes his tablet just before bed!
It’s Not All Doom and Gloom
He isn’t on there moaning about how his depression is so awful. He’s there, interacting with people. Talking. Getting the inside out. Supporting and encouraging wherever he can. I’m sorry, but if that’s the definition of being ‘mired’ in it, then sign me up! Like I said, having depression isn’t all being an Eeyore. It’s not all doom and gloom all of the time. Yes we can have awful, dark and rough days. Does it mean my sense of humour died? No.
By talking about the good days and the bad ones we can get everything that’s inside out. That’s why sharing with each other is so important. It proves that the illness isn’t winning. Some of the things that have made both Alex and I smile like loonies have come from our interactions on Twitter (discussion of little ponies, strange objects that look like Daleks and sharing favourite songs to name but a few! ) These conversations have been with people who are struggling with one form of mental health issues or another.
That’s what some seem to forget when a loved one or friend admits they have a mental health problem. They are still people! That person is still them. It’s just another side to who they are!
I guess that’s why I called this post ‘It’s not all doom and gloom’. Because it isn’t. Depression is an illness. Bipolar is an illness. Anxiety is an illness. But as sufferers we are not stuck in the labels these words convey. They don’t define us or how we can be. After all we’re just people too.
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