Depression and anxiety are such common illnesses, and yet they remain conditions which we find difficult to openly discuss. Here, in honour of Depression Awareness Week 2014, Mari Ellis Dunning shares her experiences of living with depression.
Mental Health is a difficult topic to address on a personal level. However, I feel it would be hypocritical to encourage our followers to support Depression Awareness if I were not willing to openly discuss my own experiences. I have been battling depression since I was very young. As a child, my ‘moods’ were attributed to my age, while the bouts I suffered in my adolescent years were attributed to hormones. By the time I reached 15, however, I had come to a point where thorough misery evolved into something unbearable. I had only two options – seek help and fight to keep hold of my sanity, or let myself crash and burn. I have been on medication ever since.
What is Depression to Me?
Everyone who suffers with depression has a different experience. I would like to share what depression means to me, and invite you to share your own thoughts. What does depression mean to you?
To me, depression is just a word. It is a word which cannot possibly convey the utter despair which it should denote. Depression is waking up in the morning, your stomach dropping as you realise ‘I’m still here. I’m awake again and I have to face another day.’ Depression is also the intense guilt that absorbs you for even feeling this way. Depression is aching all over, feeling a pin lodged in your throat, bruised ribs and worn muscles. Depression is the constant headache, the tinny sound of the radio buried in your brain.
In school, depression was the mechanic application of eye-liner, the process of getting dressed, straightening my hair and crying, persistently, through five lessons a day.
At my worst, I have feared for my state of mind, and worried that I may be ‘crazy.’ There have been times that I’ve believed my brain was wired incorrectly. There have been moments that I’ve been on the verge of giving up entirely. But depression can be treated – it is beatable! If you ask me, they call it ‘the curse of the strong’ for a reason.
I feel able to discuss this pertinent issue because I know I am not alone. Depression and anxiety affect 1 in 4 people at some point in their lives. That’s a quarter of us. Instead of stigmatising, and judging others for their differences, we need to embrace our similarities and support one another. Follow the links below for support and information.