Depression – a ready made excuse

Urgh. Stop with the depression crap. I was actually on the receiving end of these words, after failing to be able to leave my house to go out with someone, until that moment, I called a friend. I am sure that, had I been in bed with the flu, or on crutches after sustaining an injury, that they would have been more understanding and not worried about it. Yet, because I was in a state which meant I didn’t want to leave the safety of my flat, I was apparently playing the depression card.

Stop being so boring. Wanting to stay indoors, watching a film, ordering domino’s with friends should sound like a great night to many. And for me, it was. Unfortunately, for some of my friends, this was dull. They wanted to go out, get wasted, and end up in a night club. Brilliant. I get to be around hundreds of strangers, all intoxicated, trying to keep my anxiety at bay. Put yourself in that place. Surrounded by drunken strangers. Some being overly kind, others clearly looking for a fight. Your breathing is short and shallow, palms sweaty, blurred vision. Yeah, now tell me I’m being boring. Unfortunately, they did, and said I should stop hiding behind the anxiety. Yeah, because it’s a shield right?

You don’t have depression. One of the hardest things I have ever had to do is tell my friends and family of my illness. The reactions, on the whole, were as expected. I was supported, and not treated any differently. However, for some people, they couldn’t react in a worse way. “Oh, isn’t that one of the cool illnesses everyone has currently?” “Your aren’t depressed, you just need to cheer up.” Or, my favourite one, “How can you be depressed? You’ve got a job and friends.” Damn, if only it was that easy people.

Maybe we should stop talking. Now this was a classic. This one is almost a line out of a break up. Yet, that’s what it felt like. Telling someone how I was feeling, the treatment I was taking, and that it was all just too much. Their reaction? To look at me with fear in their eyes, like I was about to turn around and turn into some sort of deranged lunatic. Although, I suspect this person thought I was. I guess that’s the problem when you struggle to spell the medication. I mean, if they called them sunflower pills or happy hoppers, I’m sure people wouldn’t react the same way.

You aren’t trying hard enough. This was something I told myself every day. Each time I didn’t go out. Each time I spent the day on the sofa. Each time I cried. Over and over, I would tell myself I wasn’t doing the right thing, I wasn’t trying to get better. It’s one thing when you say it to yourself. It’s completely different when your manager says it. Especially after they know you’ve just been discharged from hospital. Still, I guess in this day and age, a hospital stay followed by some medication, and I should be doing party tricks every minute of the day. Apologies I wasn’t.

Mental illnesses suck. Frankly, yes they do. The effort that goes into getting up each day and being a functioning human is huge. The knowledge that stepping outside your front door could lead to all sorts of terrifying events is not an exaggeration – but a standard day. Yes, we manage. We get by through pumping ourselves full or artificial mood stabilisers. We carry emergency rations in our pockets to bring our anxiety levels down. We try to take these tablets each day without being seen, to prevent the questions, and then the judgemental looks that people have. It isn’t easy. And damn, it isn’t fun. Nor, as a certain commentator recently put it, is it a fad that people want to join in with.

Depression isn’t an excuse. Pretty much what each and every case example about is saying. Anyone with a physical illness can use it as an explanation as to why they may not be able to go out, or spend as much time doing what they want to, or having to take time off work. Yet, when the illness is mental, when it is something that cannot be seen, people become a lot less tolerant; trying to convince you instead that it is your fault that you are how you are. The thing is though, when you suffer with depression, or any other mental illness for that matter, the sufferer isn’t using it as an excuse. They aren’t deliberately being difficult, or causing plans to be changed. It is part of who they are, and something they want to be able to control. Sometimes though, they will have days where it isn’t possible. And, on those days, support them. Do not berate them. Most of all, think before you speak.

Stay Strong People. Stay You.

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