“I think one thing is that anybody who’s had to contend with mental illness – whether it’s depression, bipolar illness or severe anxiety, whatever – actually has a fair amount of resilience in the sense that they’ve had to deal with suffering already, personal suffering.” –Kay Redfield Jamison
I am Bipolar type II. It is a form of depression and it is something I am learning how to live with. My experience with depression will differ from others; but no one’s experience is the same.
When I think of depression I don’t think of writing on symptoms and how I know I have depression or how to spot it. I think of the endless questions I encounter when someone finds out I am depressed. I think it’s best suited for my blog to be on some of the most common questions I get asked. I could go on for hours but I’ll sum it up in just a few.
“You’re just lazy.”
Sure ok I may seem like I’m just being lazy, but to me it feels like I’ve just ran 12 kilometers and you are asking me to run another 10 kilometers. For me this is a constant feeling that does not pass, it’s with me when I wake until I go to bed and is there again as soon as I wake up the next day. I may have the day or couple hours where I feel like I want to do something and want to get up, get dressed look pretty and go out, but that never lasts long. I cannot remember a time when I woke up and wanted to do something even two times in the same week, let alone two days in a row. So yeah it may take me longer to start my day or gain the will to go do a task but I feel like I have no motivation or any energy to start the task.
“It’s not that hard to get up in the morning.”
When I go to get up in the morning my whole body feels like it’s made of molasses, my blankets feel like an indescribable amount of weight on top of me, and it feels like I haven’t actually slept at all. Yes I should fight harder, yes I could try something different, yes I know it impacts things, yes I know it messes up my schedule, and yes I know it’s an unnecessary evil. However I do not need to hear you tell me things I already know, I already struggle with. I hear these words and it doesn’t help; if anything it makes things worse.
A lot of people I know who struggle with depression say that sleeping is their safe place, their escape from their never ending nightmare. But for me it feels as though my nightmares never end, with my bipolar when I am awake and night terrors while I am asleep it wears me out. I wake up feeling just as tired, if not more so, then when I went to sleep. It took me years to come to terms with the fact that I am dependent on my mother even to this day when I have a really bad night terror. Some nights I wake up having a panic attack and cannot breathe, the only thing that can soothe me is curling up with someone I love and trust. I hate knowing that at night I can never be truly independent, I will probably always have to rely on knowing there is someone I trust nearby that I can go to if I need them. The only time sleeping is my escape is when I am sleeping beside someone and it’s sad; but over time I have grown fond of knowing that I have an escape and that only those I love and care for can help me achieve it. So yes it’s hard for me to wake up in the morning, yes I’m grumpy and lethargic; but at least I am trying to get up.
“So you self-harm?”
No I do not; yes they can be linked but just because I am depressed does not mean I self-harm, that is not an outlet I am using. Not everyone who is depressed self-harms, so please do not put those two together.
“It just takes time”
How much time? Is there a magical number of hours, days, weeks, months, or years that I have to deal with this and then it just goes away?
“You’ll find happiness when you find someone.”
My happiness is not dependent on another human being, thanks. I need to be happy being me, and be accepting of who I am before I can find happiness with another. No that does not mean I need to be cured, it just means I need to accept that some days I may struggle more with my moods then others.
“Others have it worse than you.”
Is life a competition? By that idea plenty of people have it better too. This point it irrelevant for many reasons. One reason is everyone is different, we all handle situations differently. Things that really affect me could not affect you nearly as much; but on the other hand it could also be completely reversed.
If I do not want to smile I won’t. You are not helping anyone by telling someone to smile. Maybe I don’t feel like smiling but I am happy. Even if I am not happy I shouldn’t have to plaster on a fake smile to please others, unless I am at work that’s another story. As long as I am not growling at you or bawling my eyes out the fact that I am not smiling should be the least of your concern. I cannot think of a reason you should tell me to smile unless I am having my photo taken, so please keep that input to yourself. Yes, jokingly it is fine but I do not need to hear it in a serious manner or from someone I hardly know.
“Stop feeling sorry for yourself.”
“Depression isn’t about, ‘Woe is me, my life is this, that and the other’, it’s like having the worst flu all day that you just can’t kick.” –Robbie Williams
Robbie Williams sums it up perfectly in my opinion. Depression is not about feeling sorry for yourself, that’s not depression. I often find when people think of depression they think of a temporary period of time of suffering; however I find it is more of a constant weight on my shoulders, just some days are worse than others. Depression is not about anything and it is not stuck to a certain amount of time, it has no concept of boundaries. Depression is a state of feeling lost, a feeling of floating through dark clouds.
Depression is not a word to throw around lightly.
Depression cannot be summed up in an article or a blog.
Depression is not the same for everyone.
Depression is not something someone likes to answer endless questions on.
Depression is not fun.
Depression is depression.
Stay Loud, Stay Proud and Keep on Being You Lovies,
Marie Olsson xx
For More Information:
On Depression: http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/detecting-depression
On Bipolar type II: http://www.webmd.com/bipolar-disorder/guide/bipolar-2-disorder