Depression and anxiety are treatable illnesses that won’t escape my world at the moment. I don’t want it to become part of every facet of my life, but, just like diabetes, a broken leg or any other treatable illness, it has done. I’ve been thinking in the last few weeks that depression is like having a bad trip. People don’t like to talk about it. Thinking about it makes them feel awful. It is the constant haranguing fear and repetition of paranoid thoughts that diminishes your self-esteem, self-control and sense of self-worth. That’s why it’s like a bad trip. Of course, I haven’t had a bad trip, or a trip at all actually, so I can’t really compare.
In fact, perhaps it’s like being drunk. People don’t like to admit they indulge too much in alcohol, the same way they don’t like to admit to having depression. People don’t want to talk about their family member who’s an alcoholic. It’s a great way of making excuses though! He did this because he was drinking, she did that because she’s depressed – whether she actually did anything or not just because she is depressed doesn’t seem to matter. It’s a great reason people can use to blame you without blaming you. If you call someone on their behaviour they can say “it’s the alcohol talking” or “is your anxiety playing up?” What a joke. Of course, I haven’t been drunk either, so I can’t really compare.
Actually, what it’s really like is being unwell. It’s like having a cold, and not being able to function 100 percent because you’re unwell. You can still move, you can still get out of bed, you can still eat and drink, but not like you used to. What it’s really like is being a child again. It’s like being young and afraid, and not understanding why there is no reason to be afraid. It’s like having a nightmare and not realising when you wake up that it was only a dream. It’s like when you’re a teenager and you start to make the distinction between what is real in actuality and what is perception. It’s realising that you’re unwell but you’re not supposed to talk about it – for no actual reason. Truth be told, if we were able to say to a friend ‘I’ve been feeling depressed’ without fear of any other reaction than ‘how can I help?’ society wouldn’t have so many people suffering prolonged depression or anxiety. Why can I tell my friend that I broke my arm, but I can’t tell her that I have depression?
I’m here to tell you that your expectations of everyone suffering depression are wrong. Yep, you read it here folks, they’re wrong. Why? Because you’ve never really had depression or anxiety the same as the person you’re trying to understand, so you can’t really compare.