Dealing with depression is very difficult, not the least of it being because depression comes in so many different shapes and sizes;
in varying shades from pale grey to total black;
from a shadow passing in front of the moon to a total eclipse of the sun.
To say “I am feeling a bit down” can mean almost anything – from not wanting to share your feelings because they are so hard to express, to having a temporary feeling of things not going quite right but being totally confident every thing will be sorted out very soon.
Too often we brush off the concerns of family and friends with a dimissive “Oh, I’ll be fine!” when in fact we don’t know whether we will be fine or not.
When asked if I knew about depression this is what I wrote in 2009 :
“What can you say to pierce this dreaded black fog, when once it descends? No words prevail. Your hugs pain me as I seek only the agony of my solitude. Leave me. Let me lie, that I might ponder why I am worthy to live. To recall my unknown and unforgiven trespasses. To hear each breath as it flows in and out my imprisoned chest. My heart cold. My sun dark. Perhaps, this time, it will not pass – and then I shall lie peacefully forever in the arms of eternal quiet and struggle no more.”
These are not just words, spun like a thread by a writer. This is my own memory.
I, too, have known that black despair. To have lain by the river, curled up under a tree, and tried to vanish.
Few will live their whole lives without feeling the hopelessness that depression brings, but for most – it is something that will pass. It is something against which we can learn to protect ourselves – if only we will take heed when it begins to stealthily creep into our minds and hearts.
What has helped me is knowing that others need me; that I have gifts of love, compassion and praise to share. Now I understand giving support and empathy to others strengthens me, at the same time.
After our #Vigil6100 in August 2010, we had some wonderful responses from young women who wanted to reach out after the event and share.
One is a Twitter friend and she wrote this:
Inspired by @LesleyDewar1’s tweet tonight. My own sort of take on it, having battled it for coming up to 10 years now.
Depression- it’s there. It’s not there. You can be the life and soul of anything and yet dying quietly inside. Your outward life is like a mask, and yet it is also real. And meaningless at the same time. Even you don’t know what is real and what isn’t. You live as a shell – empty inside. Black inside, often shiny on the outside. What is pleasure? What is pain? Above all fear rules, but you push it away and pretend it isn’t there.
You are alone in your head. Bad place to be. Use many things to distract you from aloneness in the head. Words, sounds, music, art – all just distractions from the nothingness inside, and yet they help. On the surface.
Doctor gives pills and sends you for counselling, but it’s just as empty. Because you are empty inside. Empty and falling down, down, down. Sucked down – black swamp/pit/fog of nothingness. Why? You don’t know. Best to hide. You like the rock to hide under. It’s safe and secure. Stay under the rock. No one can see your blackness there, and even you can pretend it doesn’t exist.
What can we do for each other?
Show compassion. Depression is an insidious disease and we need to be aware – all the time – that a “down day” may not be as simple as it seems. Do not feel embarrassed to ask for help. I know now that I suffered badly from post-natal depression after Annette was born but I did not know why I was so miserable. I only knew that I thought the world would be a better place without me.
Reach out! Keep reaching out! You are not alone. Reach out to groups like
- Lifeline Lifeline
- Beyond Blue Beyond Blue
- Beat Baby Blues Beat Baby Blues
- Ngala Ngala
and many other organizations that are there to help. Find your local support organization and keep the contact details close to hand. If you feel you are suffering from depression, learn how to manage it – with diet, exercise, support, counselling and medication. Take care of yourself. Laugh a lot – even when it seems ridiculous to be laughing when you feel so damn awful.
Begin to pray, although you may not feel God is listening. Angels are. They brought me home and they will help bring you safely home, too.
Articles and Blog posts on Stories My Nana Tells are written by Lesley Dewar, who regularly publishes links to them on Twitter @lesleydewar1, on Facebook Lesley Dewar on Facebook and on LinkedIn Lesley Dewar on LinkedIn Readers are welcome to share all articles and blog posts provided this note of copyright is included. (c) Lesley Dewar