Yesterday I was feeling listless. As in I had not even done a To-Do list for the day, not to mention not doing anything that should have been on it. It was a gorgeous sunshine filled January day in Alberta. Cold, crisp lovely. I felt I had cheated myself by not getting anything done. I felt depressed. That got me thinking about depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD – the winter depression). Then my daughter shared the blog post below and I found myself writing about depression and mental illness generally.
Mental illness affects us all. I suffered from depression and got counselling and medication to overcome it. It is the most common never-talked-about-illness that all humans suffer from – sometime. We just don’t talk about it. Strong, healthy, “Good” people don’t get it. Or they say they don’t. It reminds me of all those people who brag about never missing a day of work. They’ve BEEN sick, but they have come in and shared it with everyone else, while saying, “I’m FINE!”
Can you imagine if head colds were shameful, or if there was a stigma associated with the flu? No long line-ups for shots, or cute commercials about “The Man-Cold”. We’d sneeze and sniffle behind closed doors, smuggle chicken soup in our coffee cups at work to seem “Fine.” We wouldn’t talk about it.
We don’t talk about mental illness either. Why?
Because we fear people look down on us when we talk about it. We fear to be deemed self-pitying, selfish, or wallowing. We have seen others judged and mocked, we may have taken part, or had similar thoughts about another person’s weakness. As if it was catching. As if it was the flu, or the common cold, or the plague. As if talking about it could make us ill. In fact, talking about it IS THE CURE.
We need to talk about it. This man is talking about it. His posting is worth reading:
Depression and other forms of mental illness affect us all. Remember you are loved, seek out and speak to a professional in confidence about your feelings and fears. Remember your hopes, dreams, plans and goals.
Remember you are the light in someone else’s world. To them, you are a symbol of hope and the brightness of the future. Do not rob the world of the bright shining light that is you.
One of the problems with depression is that you feel completely alone, in a pit of despair, cut off from the bright shiny happiness that is the world outside you. There are people who will listen to you and help you, who want to fuel the fire in your soul so it blazes forth warming and enlightening everyone around you and everyone who hears of you.
I have stood on the ledge. It was not my fear of dying that kept me from leaping. It was fear of heights. My fear of falling overcame my fear of living.
So I had to learn to grow wings and fly. It is hard to be depressed when you’re flying. Scared, nervous, or worried maybe, but not depressed. Because you are going somewhere. Working toward a goal, making a change, being alive. You may need help to get there. You probably will need help. Flying is hard. Living is hard.
Be alive. My grandparents used to say, “Where there’s life, there’s hope.” I used to think that was trite and short-sighted.
I was wrong.
In this case it is completely correct. Where there is life – there is hope.
Get help. Grow your wings. Live. Fly. Shine.
There are a number of GREAT Ted Talks on the subject of depression, and overcoming it.
This is one of the best: http://www.ted.com/talks/kevin_breel_confessions_of_a_depressed_comic.html
Places you can get HELP: