Love,  My Story

Mental Health Awareness

“Monsters dont sleep under your bed… they sleep inside your head” – Unknown

There are so many different people in this world… People who think and react completely differently to the same situation. What causes us to react so differently? Is it the assumptions we decide to believe? Is it the way we are brought up? Our insecurities? Previous experiences? Reality and perspective seem to mean something different for everyone.

I received a lot of mixed reactions from a post I wrote a few years ago about how depressed I was feeling and how people can be more supportive.

The Background

I had been fighting with a close friend for a couple of hours (I seem to fight with everyone these days), my dog Loki had been vomiting for hours and I was stressed at having a sick furchild, it was the fourth night in a row I couldn’t sleep and I was feeling pretty close to admitting myself into Valkenberg (a psychiatric hospital in Cape Town). Insomnia, worry over my beloved dog, unreasonable insecurity over all the relationships in my life and the damn brain zaps I felt from my anti depressant withdrawals every time I got too emotional had left me feeling like I was losing my mind. I had gone outside for a smoke to calm down after cleaning up more vomit, sitting by myself on the bench crying, looking up at the stars… wishing with all my heart that I had someone there with me, to hold my hand, to physically not leave my side until I was feeling better and able to cope. The loneliness and desperation I feel when I am alone just gets too much for me sometimes.  I wrote a diary insert and then stupidly decided to share it on Facebook, in hopes that if there was anyone else out there who had a friend with depression…. Maybe they’d reach out. Maybe they’d say the words that person needed to hear.

By the time I had finished writing, I realised that even though my friends Sean and Claudia were not physically with me all the time… I still received messages from them both every single day, making me feel like even though I was lost, there were still two people who cared whether I woke up again. And I didn’t want to post it without tributing them. Without tributing that the very same words I had just written, had actually already been said from them to me.

The Post

“When you’re depressed and all you can think about is how much you want to die, every lonely hour feels like an eternity.

Feeling unloved and unwanted. Like a burden of negativity. When all you want in the whole world is for a friend who loves you to take your hand and say don’t worry. I’ve got you. We’ll get through this together and I won’t leave your side until you feel better. I won’t leave your side no matter what. I won’t leave your side when you put on a smile and say you’re fine. I won’t leave your side when you’re being a bitch and telling me to go away and you don’t want my help. I won’t leave your side after months of darkness and you need someone to help you hang on when everyone else has given up. I’ll be there because I believe in you. I’ll be there because I see your light. I’ll be there because I love you. I’ll be there because together we’ll get through this. I’ll be there until your real smile comes back. And I’ll be there to remind you that I’ll be there with you every. single. day.

I’ve been through more than most people.. and can honestly say I haven’t experienced any other hell on earth worse than hating each day and wishing for life to be over. Than hearing of people dying and wishing you could have taken their place. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.

Please try keep this in mind next time when you have a friend or family member with depression. Thank you Claudia and Sean for being that friend to me.”

The Aftermath

I have to admit I was a little mortified when I woke up and remembered what I had done. I logged onto FB to delete it before too many people saw it, but I had already had some responses from it. So I just hid it from my timeline so that more people wouldn’t see it.

Assumptions: Some saw it as attention seeking. Some saw it as a personal attack on our friendship. Some even decided that they could no longer be my friend because I hadn’t included their name. Others saw it as a chance to reconfirm their love and support for me.

Initially I tried to brush off the few who reacted differently and put it down to their own insecurities. But after being angrily confronted by my father and discussing it with him for some time – I realised there really is a huge lack of awareness and understanding about depression. It made me really sad (and a little angry) that the first reaction I received from some of the most important people in my life was anger, and in some cases some really nasty messages.  Some parts of me wanted to lash out instead of trying to understand where they were coming from. I couldn’t believe that people could be so self obsessed that they chose to look at how it made THEM feel as opposed to actually reading my words to try and get an understanding of how bad I must have felt to have written that and posted it on FB (facepalm). In their eyes I had just told everyone that I had shit friends. Go figure.

Those who have not experienced it cannot relate to the emotions or irrational thoughts of a depressed person. It’s impossible. I can barely relate to myself like this and I’m IN it. Even the psychologists and psychiatrists I have seen, who are supposed to be professionals at this, have made me feel utterly alone and misunderstood.

How to help

So please consider educating yourself about depression, and saving your judgement next time a friend reaches out.

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