Wednesday 18 March 2015

Depression: What I learned

- Tammy

I often asked myself why it is okay to talk about your flu, your injured arm or that one time you drank too much and blacked out, while depression is something we hide from everyone. We pretend to smile - in front of strangers, friends and loved ones. I then questioned if talking about depression brings shame or embarrassment to the person who has it. I myself have suffered from depression for almost 7 years now; it was not always the same, sometimes I get better and then I get worse. But I am still alive today and I am glad to be writing this so that whoever reads it finds some encouragement. Even if you don’t I hope it helps you feel that you are not alone.

Here is something I have learned from my depression: it does not define who you are, it is part but not all of you.

Depression is not a choice. We do not wake up one day and choose to stay in bed the whole day and then for the rest of the year too. We do not choose to lie in bed feeling nothing but tears streaming down our face (when our pillows get too wet we turn them upside down and start crying again). We do not choose to create scenarios of what will happen if we step outside our houses, our rooms, our beds; of how people can spot the sadness behind our smiles and that they will leave us eventually. We are sorry for those times we made plans and then cancelled out on you 30 minutes before the date because we could not leave the house, for ignoring your texts even though we saw them for a few hours, for the mean things we said but did not mean. We had long conversations about our feelings and breakdowns but really we just wanted someone to lay our heavy heads on.

I feel that there are many others out there who suffer and personally my words might not be any help because once you are depressed you think the world is ending and by staying under the cover somehow you’d be safe. It is not true. I myself have days where all I do is stay in bed and feel sorry for myself. My depression is also associated with other mental health difficulties but I am writing this because I want to let you know that it will get better. This is not just an expression: it is true because I have better days where I did not have to hide my depression, days where we were not enemies. Instead, we were friends, and depression helps me realise I will be okay as long as I can breathe. Please love your body, your hair, your smile; love yourself because if you have nothing else, you have yourself.

For more messages of hope from people who have experienced depression, check out the It Gets Brighter campaign. For more information on depression and how to overcome it, visit Students Against Depression.

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