I regularly get asked the question ‘What do you do for a living?’ Anyone who has a mental health illness and is out of work, will tell you this is one of the questions they dread the most. You can either choose to answer honestly and say you’re not working due to your mental health, or you can choose to make something up.
You could even have a bit of fun and say that you’re a brain surgeon or an air pilot! Joking apart, If you’re not ready to share about your illness, and telling a little white lie helps avoid having an uncomfortable conversation, then I don’t see an issue with this. when I was struggling to accept my own illness I always did this, and even had a rehearsed script for such occassions.
I’m now much better at giving an honest answer. Normally when I give the reason as my mental health, people say they’re sorry to hear that and then promptly change the subject! You see, even though mental health is now widely recognised, for many it’s still an uncomfortable subject and I appreciate this. Often I’m gratefull, cause it means I don’t have to go into detail. So you can imagine my surprise last week, when I had this very same dialogue with someone, but instead of awkwardly changing the subject, he seemed genuinely interested and asked me to describe ‘Whats it like having depression?’ I attempted to answer the question, but due to being put on the spot, I don’t think I did justice to the severity of it, or how dibilitating It’s symptoms can be. One of the main reasons I created this blog was to bring some much needed awareness of mental health issues, and for that reason I feel It’s important to have another try at answering the question. So here goes!
Living With Depression
Imagine feeling empty and totally lifeless. You’re unmotivated and just can’t see the point anymore. You’re desperate not to feel this way but you can’t help it. It’s like you’re fighting a losing battle and you’re left both confused and terrified by this. Feeling lost and completely alone in every sense of the word, even whilst in a crowded room. Swallowed up by a sickening sadness and sense of hopelessness. As the self-loathing voice inside your head becomes relentless, you’re left battered and exhausted. In these moments you’ll begin to hate everything about yourself. Even the most simple tasks become a huge effort, useless or inadequate are words that spring to mind! It’s like a ten ton weight is crushing down on you and you can’t breath. It would be cruel to inflict your misery on others and so you choose isolation. This gives you more time to dwell, which is a dangerous thing! Led on your bed you find it hard to lift your head from the pillow, and soon the pain and inward torment becomes overwhelming. You find yourself staring at the same spot on the ceiling, sometimes for hours on end. You find yourself wishing you were dead!
Words alone don’t seem enough to describe these emotions, and how can I possibly expect people to understand when I don’t fully understand myself. The world is advancing at an alarming rate and I sometimes feel like I have no place in it. I certainly feel out of my depth and like every day I’m being left further behind. Is it possible, I’m simply not equipped to cope and I never will be. As my thoughts become more jumbled I also feel immense shame and total despair!
What I’ve described to you in this post is me having a bad day. Thankfully such days are becoming less frequent.