On the dark side of the Moon
On the dark side of the Moon
I saw on the news the most wonderful woman talking so honestly about depression, and as it turned out it was the Daughter of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Please feel free to watch (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health22536768) this link and see for yourself. It was honest, it was without reservation and it was a call to all to speak out and remove the negative morose stereotyping of people with depression being self-absorbed or self-indulgent in some way. I can even hear the comments of stupid people that claim:
“We didn’t have depression in our day”
“It’s a modern epidemic of those that are just weak”
“Need to pull themselves together”
And so on and this is utter nonsense of course. But she spoke and inspired me (and I suspect others) to be honest about depression and she said one key thing that has stuck with me:
“Depression is a disease like any other disease, and therefore needs treatment like any other disease does” and it is not a curse, a self-inflicted condition that you have to “shake yourself out of”, or “pull yourself together over”. It is a disease and it needs treatment through psychological therapies, physical intervention at times and physical treatment such as exercise, and at times medication and Psychiatric intervention. As other physical conditions need a multi-health professional approach, well so does a condition like Depression – it is an ILLNESS. She was so brave to come on TV and to talk about this illness she has suffered since a child, she even mentions that she has no cause for her depression as she has everything she wants and much more than most, yet she has been plagued by this reoccurring condition year after year. It has destroyed her relationships, destroyed her career paths and made her close to ending it all on more than one occasion.
This is the evil of this condition, this darkness called depression. Despite her religious belief it affects 1 in 4 people during their lives and I am amongst them. I have a degenerative condition and I lose hope at times, become overwhelmed with a sense of loss and frustration. The clouds come over and darkness floods my mind, the devils taunting me to end it all invade my night and I slowly see myself sliding to the dark side of the moon. People say it is a reaction to having a degenerative condition, perhaps, but either way it comes and I am lost, unable to see through the darkness, my mind convincing me I have one option whilst I still have the ability to, before I am robbed of ability by my condition. People with depression will affiliate with the following, that despite all the love I have around me, and there is lots of people on my side, when I am living on the dark side of the moon I pray when I fall asleep not to wake up; when I wake up I am flooded with sadness and disappointment, regret I have to go through another day. I feel persecuted that I have to live another day. Do I have justification? Perhaps I do due to the pain, discomfort and my condition generally, perhaps I do have cause to be depressed, but it is an illness, a condition or disease as much as the Pneumonias I have had.
The Archbishop’s Daughter was so right, this is a wake-up call to everyone to say, “Yes I have Depression and it is an Illness with which I need help”. Most people may be able to go to their GP and get the help they need, some may need more complex help as I have mentioned above, but all, and I mean ALL can be helped. There are many types of depression of course:
My own Mother is experiencing a form of depression over the loss of her Husband, my Father and with time it will get easier – but down the line she may need some additional help – but no one would dare tell her to pull herself together;
There is reactive depression, where someone becomes overwhelmed with what is going on in their lives and doesn’t have the ability to deal with it all, often because what is happening can be out of their control. Often the help can involve support to deal with the issues causing the depression, such as debt, business failing, redundancy, relationship counselling, etc. Again, this isn’t a weakness this is someone who has been tipped over the edge of coping with what is going on and needs support;
Then there is a type of depression that has no obvious cause, can hit people regardless of intellect, in fact higher functioning people are more likely as expectations of them is far higher. This usually involves Psychological Therapies and sometimes medication to help lift the mood. But this is as real as any other condition and needs to be treated as the illness that it is, and not hidden away – help is out there through a visit to the GP;
Then there are combinations as I call them, where, for example, I have depression because of the loss of my Father, Brother and my own condition stealing my functioning away. I also have a
reactive element due to the overwhelming frustration that my condition causes, completely swamping me at times. But I am fighting back and I am getting help including medication and I am not ashamed to say it. If they were antibiotics we would not be afraid to mention it.
I won’t be made to feel ashamed because at times I have bouts of depression; you live in my shoes for a few weeks and see how you would feel. Sometimes I live on the dark side of the moon and I have no choice, no control, despite how much I am loved. There are days I want to stay in bed and just cry and days where even thinking is a hard slog. I described it to a Mental Health Worker as like trying to run through treacle with no motivation at all. But I don’t, I get up, I make myself do something, I try and fight – but I really don’t want to. This is where the help comes in as they can support my Angel and I, they can bring additional resources to bare to help and support us both but at a level we can tolerate. You see when I am on the dark side (makes me sound like I am in a Star Wars film) I cannot initiate help; my Angel has to as I am mentally unable to do so.
Do I have a right to be depressed with what I have going on in my life, hell yes, but it isn’t about rights, it happens to 1 in 4 and we need to take the lead from the Archbishop’s Daughter and come out in the open and say yes it affects me so what! We, the people being affected by this illness need to come together and say let’s fight it together out in the open. By bringing cancer into open conversation and making it ok to talk about it, there is a fighting talk about it now and money is raised by the millions to fight it – because of the change of attitude. Now we need the same change in attitudes to depression, as more people are affected by depression than cancer, and depression directly and indirectly causes just as many deaths each year. So we need funding to research effective treatments and make depression a thing of the past, isn’t it about time!?!
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