“You don’t like you have got depression” “You don’t look like someone who would get depression”
In both these pictures I was battling severe depression but it’s funny how to myself and to much of the outside world, it was “normal and ok” for me to be depressed in one but not in the other.
The picture on the right, is me after Jack died, at a charity event, painting on the fake smile for the world to see while i am dying on the inside. The people closest to me knew that I was battling extreme depression and anxiety, I didn’t tell other people unless I felt it would help them but in my head and heart, I knew that if I had told people they would understand and almost expect it. I had no shame in going to the doctor and asking for help, I had no shame in taking medication or seeing a counsellor. I felt like it was ok for me to suffering from depression and that people would still accept me. After all, I was suffering the worst imaginable loss that any person could feel.
The picture on the left tells a very different story and one that I feel ashamed about as I bought into the “shame and fear” of having depression. This me when Jack was alive and probably at my lowest point. My home life had broken up, I had moved to new house, started a new job and I was battling to have my son moved class because to put it simply, he was being bullied by his school teacher. At this point nobody knew that I was suffering from extreme anxiety and depression, I was too scared and ashamed to tell anyone because I felt that people would judge me and they wouldn’t understand. Even though I was battling depression, I was the best mother to Jack and nobody could ever have said otherwise as I am my own worst critic. Jack was my 24/7 and my world revolved him, I still went to work 5 days a week and also gave my school kids the best education that I could. Despite rationally knowing this, the shame that is associated with depression left me terrified to tell people about my illness in case they would use this against me as a mother or incase it could be used against me for a future job. Nobody had ever said such a thing, it was all in my head but that's what the stereotype of depression does to you. I wouldn’t go to the doctor or any professional incase they gave me medication or put notes on my file. I would never think that way again but I know that there will be thousands if not millions of people out there thinking that way right now. That is why I am being honest and sharing some of my story. It took me to lose my son to realise all of this. I wish I knew then what I know now.
There will be thousands of new mums and dads out there scared to tell people that they are suffering from post-natal depression because they will be sacred someone takes their child off them.
There will be thousands of separated mums and dads out there scared to tell people that they are suffering from depression incase they are stopped from seeing their child.
There will be thousands of people out there in jobs who are too scared to tell people that they are suffering from depression incase they lose their jobs.
There will be thousands of people out there who are too scared to tell people that they are suffering from depression incase people judge them.
We must change this, we must make it easier for people to talk about depression and anxiety. We must be more understanding and we must stop judging people with depression. We don’t judge people with other illnesses so why depression.
All the time I hear people say, “but I have nothing to be depressed about. I have a family, job, home, money, I have nothing to be depressed about”. My answer to that is that’s not the way depression works, some people just suffer from it and some people don’t. Some people will say “I have no right to be depressed, look at your life” and my answer to that is, what is going on in your life is just as important as what is going on in mine.
I suppose what I am trying to share here is the fact that nobody should ever be ashamed or scared to say that they are suffering from depression. I firmly believe that nobody chooses to be depressed, it’s the most awful feeling in the world, who would want to feel that way. I also believe that for some people, life changing events can cause it but for others, sometimes there are no obvious reasons, sometimes it just happens.
Thousands of people commit suicide every year from depression, those people are someone’s son/daughter, family member or friend. Maybe tonight we could all take the time to think about depression, those we know that are suffering from it and those we know that have lost their life from it. Maybe ask yourself how low that person must have felt to do that. Maybe tonight you could be the one person to make a difference to someone else life.
Arlene, Jack’s Mummy xx