The pain of depression is invisible but still deadly. It kills at least a million people a year, more than any other acts of violence. Yet we are ashamed when things go wrong mentally. We can only help to remedy this by talking, reading and writing about it. When the tightrope on which we walk wobbles and we slip and come face to face with the existential horrors buried deep within our minds nobody can tell unless we talk. As such times you can be looking at the most beautiful view in the world on the sunniest of days but it won’t stop you wanting to die, and it is now you need to talk.
Oddly, depressed people don’t actually want to be happy, they just want an absence of pain. So being moralistic about someone who wants to kill themselves is to misunderstand. To say (or think) ‘pull yourself together’ is like saying ‘Ah you have cancer, come on now, mind over matter’. With a physical illness there is some separation between the pain and the self, whereas depression eats away at the self, you are your thoughts. Depression causes such relentless continuous pain that it is all engulfing. There is a constant self torment together with an exhaustion of never quite grasping mental comfort.
There are some things that help alleviate the mental agony and send weak rays of sunshine through the deadening grey cloud of fuzziness;
– Intense conversation, though paradoxically sometimes to talk about how I feel leads to feeling more of what I am feeling, but acting normal can lead to normal
– Coffee (in bucketloads)
Not all of these help all the time, and there’s no wonder cure that will suddenly unlock your mind and let you see the sunshine but the more we can talk about mental health as a society the less engulfing and terrifying depression will become.