Monday, March 11, 2013

Because I wish everyone understood...

I wrote about my depression awhile ago, and got a huge, overwhelming response of support and love from friends and family. I basically "came out" and let everyone know that I live with depression. Yet, there are always those who don't understand, and don't make the slightest effort to try to understand. So, here I will peel back more layers and let you know what it's like to live with depression.

"Can't you just stop being depressed?" I've heard this many times. Don't you think if I could, I would? If you don't understand something, ask. There's a wonderful resource called the Internet that has more than Facebook and porn on it. When I hear that question, of course I get angry, but I do realize that mental illness is not very widely discussed. I don't show up at parties and tell everyone, "Guess what! I have dysthymia and take a pill every single day! I'm first for a keg stand!" I've been embarrassed and ashamed for so many years, and I would only let a select few friends know about it. Now, I just don't care who knows. Why should an illness be a secret?

Depression happens in the brain. Chemicals are messed up. The medication basically goes in there and tells the chemicals, "Straighten the fuck up, this chick hasn't done laundry in two weeks." I'm not sure exactly what the meds say, but that's my best guess. No one 'chooses' this illness. I'd love to be able to be what society deems 'normal', but I'm not. That's society's problem, and it needs to stop. Would you say to someone with leukemia, "Can't you just stop having cancer of your blood cells?" That's what it feels like when someone suggests I just get over it.

I've been to the very bottom of depression. I don't ever want to go back. Some days are better than others. Just because I take a pill every day doesn't mean I'm cured. I'm simply living life better through the use of medication. It doesn't make it go away, for me, at least. Others have periods of depression that are controlled with medicine, and others live their entire lives with it. I've lost friends who don't understand that some days, I'm lucky that I got dressed, and that socializing just isn't in the cards for that day, or week, or month. My brain tells me to do something, take a baby step, and sometimes, that's the hardest part, just putting one foot in front of the other.

Mental illness can afflict anyone, at any time. No one is immune. Unless you've had depression, or loved someone with it, you have no idea what it's like - same as with any other illness or disease. I'm more than happy to share my experiences with anyone, if it educates just one person, or helps someone who doesn't want to appear weak or crazy get to the doctor. There is nothing wrong with being mentally ill, and I will speak out every chance I get to let people know this.


MamaKaren said...

I think there is also a misconception about the difference between clinical depression and "the blues." Everyone has really hard times in their lives at some point or another, and they feel really sad. That's not the same as my depression, which causes me to have headaches and nausea, and not to sleep properly, and to be so tired that I can't summon up the energy to take a shower.

If you were really sad when your grandmother died and you lost your job, I understand, and I'm glad you were able to ride it out. But it's not the same thing. Looking on the bright side and counting my blessings won't do the trick for me, as much as I'd like it to.

Jackie C. said...

Thank you Erin, for not only being brave enough to share your experience but stand up for others. The infuriating comments about mental illness/disability can be the hurtful and destructive to friendships. My child suffers from anxiety disorder and ODD, and you know I love when others suggest I need to get tough with her. How much tougher can you get than public restraint holds and missed priveledges. Normal is a nonexistent term, and each of us are exactly what we are intended to be. I hope your words will heal others and your strength be inspiration. Now, about my laundry. . . Lol.