I don’t just want this to be me moaning about my depression. I want it to be interesting and helpful to those who read it. I know a lot of people who suffer from depressions of one sort or another, and I know a lot of people who don’t talk about it. I want to talk about it. I want people to be able to see what it means for someone who suffers from it. I want to show that you don’t have to hide how you’re feeling.
Anyway, today I’m going to talk about five words that can really hurt, or really help, depending on how they’re used. They are:
“THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG WITH ME.”
I’ve come across these words in a lot of different scenarios, but I believe there are two main ones; Self Blame, and Admission.
This is where these words are dangerous. Really dangerous. This is where you see all the troubles and hardships that other people face and you wonder why they can cope and you can’t. Eventually you decide that it’s because there’s something wrong with you. The reason you can’t be happy is because you are a flawed person.
At it’s worst it becomes something that you could change if only you weren’t so shitty/scared/lazy/etc. THIS IS NOT TRUE!
Sometimes I feel that this notion is reinforced by people making helpful suggestions like “You should get more exercise, that’d make you feel better” or “you should get out more”. When combined with the five words above this becomes (in your own mind) “You’re feeling this way because you’re not exercising enough” and “It’s your own foult for not socialising”. You get stuck in the notion that how you feel is your own fault. You can’t get past the idea that you are somehow a failed human being. “There’s something wrong with you.”
This is where these words can be helpful. This is the admission that you are suffering from an illness. In this scenario the words don’t imply that you, as a person, are somehow failing. They imply that you are handling something real, something big, and you are coping well.
It’s easy to forget that mental illnesses are just that: Illnesses. There is a strong temptation to see them as character flaws or failures. Resist that temptation! Depression is just as debilitating as “real” illnesses.
Every now and then I have to remind myself that I AM ill. I have to change my life to account for it. I have accepted that I can no longer go to crowded pubs or loud places, or to parties where I’m not guaranteed to know most of the people there. I’ve accepted that in the middle of the day when I “should” be perfectly fine I can be hit by an inescapeable need to curl up in a ball and sleep. I’ve accepted that sometimes I’ll reach a state where I need to talk to someone NOW.
I couldn’t accept all these things when I thought of them as all my fault. I had to step back and say “I have an imbalance of chemicals in my brain. It is a serious condition that causes these symtoms. I need to adjust my life to live with it. It isn’t failing, or running away from my faults, it’s simply treating my condition so that I can live the best life possible.”
I still forget sometimes. I still slip into thinking that it’s all my fault. I still use those five words in the first scenario, rather than the second. It’s a long process and I’m not there yet. But dammit, I try, and that’s all I can do. There’s something wrong with me… and I’m learning to cope.