Thursday, October 10, 2013

Oct 10 2013

Today has been a good day. I am still recovering from the flu, so I slept until about 1pm. But then I got up and had a shower and got dressed. I spent most of the shower coughing up a lung, and felt a bit shaky and tired after, but much better than I had done for several days. I even washed my hair!
Then my mum and I had a girly afternoon..of a sort. I was completely exhausted when we got home, but at least I got out of the house.

These random days of 'brightness' are what make you continue on when you have PTSD/anxiety/depression. They are what remind you that there is something different out there. Unfortunately the illness is such that often these good days are overshadowed and ignored or used by those outside of the situation as proof of a lack of a problem. They will say things like 'oh, so you are having a good day' in such a way that you end up feeling guilty that you dared to have a good day whilst claiming to be depressed.

Many people who haven't had clinical depression think that it is like when they are a bit sad. But it isn't. I have days when I'm a bit sad, and I had them before I descended into hell. There is a vast difference.

A bit sad doesn't make every bone in your body ache.

A bit sad doesn't remove the colour from everything around you.

A bit sad doesn't make you wish you didn't exist.

A bit sad doesn't make you feel alone in a room full of people.

A bit sad doesn't make your bed your best friend.

A bit sad doesn't hang around when everything is going great in your life.

And that is the crux of it. Depression is being miserable on the happiest day of your life, when everything is going great, when you are successful, when you have tonnes of friends and everything going your way. Depression is not a symptom of your lifestyle. People who have nothing, who struggle every day, do not always end up with depression. Nor does money and success shield you from the possibility of getting depression. Depression is an illness that can strike anyone, anywhere, at any time.

Today happens to be World Mental Health Day. It is ironic that we have a world day for it, and yet it is still an illness with a lot of stigma, that many do not understand. And it isn't their fault they don't understand. Many sufferers of depression do not really understand either.

I am a highly logical, analytical, intelligent and educated adult. This illness doesn't 'make sense' to me in so many ways. I have struggled to accept that I have PTSD/depression/anxiety. I cannot understand how everything can be really positive around me and yet I feel miserable, anxious, exhausted and hopeless. The day I realised that my illness isn't a symptom of my life, but an actual illness was a light bulb day. It hasn't magically made it go away, and it hasn't made it any easier, but it has helped me not be so hard on myself.

Sufferers are often their own worst enemy. They think they should be fine, or happy or whatever, and instead of being kind to themselves they will beat themselves up (emotionally/psychologically) which makes matters worse. The internal dialogue of a depression/mental illness sufferer can be one of the most damaging things in their lives. And if anyone in their lives says anything similar, due to a lack of understanding or compassion, then the sufferer will take this as a conformation of their own worst thoughts.

So if you know someone who has any sort of mental illness, be compassionate, let them know that their illness doesn't define them, that you love/like them just the same regardless. Don't pity them, don't undermine them and for God's sake never ever tell them to 'just get over it.'

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