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Depression is not an emotion – it’s an illness

Helen - Time To Change

"This is not me being lazy, ungrateful or selfish. This is me dealing, sometimes suffering, with depression."

Ah, mental health stigma surrounding depression. The worst that’s been said to me in the last 9 years of having depression is:

“Don’t go and have a Helen moment on me!”

“Don’t quit your job. I know your job has been making you feel depressed but you’re being stupid. You haven’t tried hard enough.”

“Is that all your depressed about?”

“Stop being ungrateful and take your Great Aunt’s advice!”

Please, stop.

This is not me being lazy, ungrateful or selfish. This is me dealing, sometimes suffering, with depression. This is my demon running its black toxins through my head, poisoning my thoughts and feelings.

Depression is not an emotion, it’s an illness. A completely and utterly illogical illness. Just like with colds, for example, some colds can just be a little sniffle, sneeze, etc, while some colds can completely wipe you out and keep you bed-bound for x amount of time. Whether you have a mild cold or one from hell, you still have a valid cold. People with the strongest immune systems can still be affected by them.

From an outsider’s point of view, sure, they would be able to see the positive things going on in your life. However, when depression strikes, for me at least, it feels like a part of my brain has turned off the switch to be able to enjoy things. If it’s really bad, I’m unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel with whatever I’m dealing with. I can also feel like a shell of a person sometimes. It’s as if my brain has temporarily sucked up my personality and misplaced it somewhere else. I’m there but not there at the same time.

I don’t choose to do this, depression is basically trying to tie me down in a chair at the cinema, forcing me to watch its fake “reality” tale about how my life will always be rubbish, dark, etc and how I’m worthless. Sometimes I can fight it off, but other times it can catch me off guard and I believe it for a while. Depression, by the way, is one hell of a liar.

The best way I can describe the switch being turned off is while you can see the beautiful colours of the world, I only see black, grey and white. My favourite meal in front of me is suddenly tasteless mush. My favourite TV show/YouTube channel is changed to, what feels like, a very boring presentation about something I’ve never been remotely interested in. Going out with loved ones can feel like everyone is spinning around me in fast motion while I’m sitting there in slow.

Depression is one of the worst things I have ever experienced, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Thankfully over the last 9 years I’ve learned to differentiate my depression thoughts from my healthy thoughts. I know my depression is just trying to make me watch a fake tale about me and my life, like how I described earlier, but I know I can beat it each and every time it knocks me. Depression might be strong but I’m much, much stronger.

Please do not judge other people’s struggles and do listen to what they have to say. Their mountain may be a molehill to you, but everyone is different and everyone’s feelings are valid. Please, please always remember that.

Talking saves lives.

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UnMasked has been set up by 3 friends from Halifax, we have battled and overcome mental ill health first hand.
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