The Long Run
There is no quick fix. No shortcuts. When it comes to mental health, it’s something that can be thought of as a long run. A long-term illness. Wouldn’t you say?
See, that’s the thing that I hear most often about depression and mental health. The most common misconception seems to be that depression is like a light switch, that we can just switch it off and snap out of it. Too often we hear people telling us to just get over it.
But it’s not that simple.
If it were that simple, wouldn’t we just get over it? Wouldn’t we try and avoid living like this? From the things I’ve experienced and some of the things I’ve heard, I can’t imagine anyone who would ever want to actually live like this! I could be wrong, of course, as there might actually be someone out there who wants to live like this, but somehow I doubt that.
No, the sad fact is that depression is a long-term illness and there is no quick fix, as I’ve previously discussed. Out of all the mental health stories I’ve heard, none of them are over and done with in a matter of weeks. It takes months and months of medication and/or therapy to recover. Even then, there is a possibility that it will never truly go away, that it will lie under the surface much like a ticking timebomb, ready to strike again. There is no short solution.
In It For the Long Haul
Recently, I talked about how we, as a society, put the onus on the person who is struggling. Phrases like “you know where I am if you need me” have started to become the norm. Roughly translated, a lot of the time it means “I’m going to make the offer of support but never follow it up, so it’s up to you to contact me when you’re struggling”. Is that your experience or is it just mine? (Disclaimer: I know that it isn’t the way everyone means it, it’s just been my general experience with people and I’ve heard of a lot of similar experiences).
Anyway…enough about that bit. My point is that we have a tendency to put all of that responsibility onto the person who is struggling. Coupled with that, we seem to have some kind of misconception that it is that short-term illness with a quick fix. A couple of pills, a little therapy and you’ll be alright.
It’s long-term and, subsequently, you need to be in it for the long haul! Half of people’s struggles nowadays come from people promising they will be around and then disappearing after a couple of weeks when they realise that it isn’t going to be an easy fix. They stick around as long as they think they can bring you out of it but, at the first signs of rebuttal or long-term illness, they retreat and abandon you.
Now, this isn’t what everyone does, I know that. I’ve been blessed with some great friends who have stuck by me through thick and thin, whether I’m in a good place, a bad place or an absolutely awful place. That said, I’ve also had people just drop away like flies the moment they realise it isn’t as simple as providing me with a little encouragement and a kind word here and there. Admittedly there has to be some give and take as well, we as the sufferers have to be more understanding of other people’s situations as well, but as I’ve said in the Onus: it takes 5 minutes to send someone a message checking up on them.
So be prepared. Be prepared to help these people. Be prepared to accept that there isn’t a quick fix. There is no easy solution, nor should there be. To fix something complicated, you have to take time. So we have to take the time to fix mental illness.
That means we’re counting on you. We’re counting on you to support us and to keep supporting us, whether we’re ill for weeks or months or even years. We need that support. In our minds, we can’t do this on our own. We either believe we’re not good enough or we believe we simply can’t do it.
So please, if you say you’ll be there for someone then make sure you’re there for the long haul. If you don’t think you can cope with that, please don’t promise the help. We need you. We need your support. So please…be in it for the long haul.
That’s all we ask.
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