‘Smile more!’ If I had a pound for every time someone said that to me then I’d be writing this from an exotic location, not the damp, over-cast streets of summery Glasgow (I’m not actually sitting in the street I’m in my flat, just in case someone thought I was being literal.)
This week my mood plummeted and I found myself living in a state of hope that it didn’t actually happen; that I was simply having what normal people refer to as a ‘bad day.’ I keep saying to myself that I’m better, that I won’t get low moods or bad periods. But the truth is I’ll always suffer from them even though they may not be as frequent as they once were.
I still think people don’t see depression as being that bad an illness. Purely because it’s invisible, and there often isn’t any physical symptoms, then it’s overlooked. I always find this ironic considering that depression as a disease kills more than certain types of cancer, than gun-crime, than war…but because the victims are ‘doing it to themselves’, because they are taking their own lives then it somehow doesn’t count?
I’m going to lay out some honesty here, so if you’re unconformable with that then I strongly suggest you stop reading. And if you do read on then please do not confuse my honesty for attention seeking, as when I read about other people’s struggles it sometimes helps – perhaps this will do the same.
On Wednesday evening after work I was in a state of complete disarray and depression. Walking home I had to physically stop myself from doing something stupid, so I had asked my flat mate to wait up for me for a chat. Knowing he was waiting for me I felt obligated to go home, but at the same time I was torn as what did I really want to do? Something stupid. My initial plan was to go down the Clyde and throw myself in. That was the thought that echoed through my head over and over as I walked home
Do I want to die? No, I don’t. But in that moment I was so overcome that it felt like the only answer. Depression tricks your mind into believing that the world would be better off without you. You’d be doing everyone a favour; you’d be doing yourself a favour. It dangles a carrot in front of you; offers a remedy. It tempts you with an easy way out. I’ve battled this since I was fourteen, I know how to fight it and overcome it. I set myself tasks or obligations knowing that if they are there as a safety net. I make plans that I can look forward to, even though depression tells me I can’t do those plans, that I should be alone.
I went to the doctors and it was the usual ‘Take this it’ll fix you’ mentality I was prescribed. I’ve been on medication on/off for nearly nine years, and to me being on medication is just as terrifying, if not more so, than the actual disease they are designed to help fight. Every day I feel like I’m neutering my mind; denting some part of creativity. Locking some part of me away that could be the best part of me – but I wouldn’t know, because if I don’t take the medication I’m told I’ll be worse. All I know is that it’s been impossible to focus on anything this week. Even when people are speaking to me my mind is wondering. I have to teach myself to stay in the now. I stood at the mirror for a solid ten minutes yesterday practising smiling. ‘Smile more!’ I sat trying out ways to reply to people, just so they wouldn’t know there was anything wrong with me. Society says it understands, but it doesn’t understand. It’s fooled me into believing that I should be ashamed of feeling like this.
Here are some things depression has said to me this week:
Don’t eat, you’re gaining too much weight – as such I have lived on soup and then binge ate before bed every night.
You’re better off dead, it’ll save your family a lot of hassle – then I’d argue with myself about the funeral costs cause that seems more important than my life?
Nobody around you actually likes you, go and sit alone during your lunch. – I force myself to sit in a room of crowded people.
Go and get drunk – it’s not even a quick fix anymore. It only makes it worse.
You’re repugnant. Nobody will want you. You are going to wind up old and alone, with no teeth and overweight. Why do you think you can’t get a boyfriend? – Every time I looked in a mirror.
Now people reading this may think ‘He’s not right’ but that’s simply because they haven’t suffered first-hand the catastrophic effects of depression. I’m not mental, I have a mental illness – there is a massive difference, and people need to learn what that difference is before they cast judgement upon someone. I can’t help how I sometimes feel anymore than a cripple can’t get up and walk. When you want to kill yourself then that’s as low as it gets for me. I knew after Wednesday night that my mood would slowly get better, it would level out. This may seem heavy for some people, but to people with depression, to people like me, it’s just ‘one of those weeks.’