Friday’s Rants from the Soapbox in My Living Room!

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Welcome to my Friday’s Rants from the Soap Box in my Living Room. A small space in the week where I can have a chunter about things that have made me twitch with annoyance or made me question if the world has gone mad or not….
I also  linked up with MummyBarrow for her Ranty Friday. You can find her blog and link up here if you’d like to join in. A good rant can be therapeutic.

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You’ve got to get yourself together
You’ve got stuck in a moment
And you can’t get out of it
Don’t say that later will be better
Now you’re stuck in a moment
And you can’t get out of it

And if the night runs over
And if the day won’t last
And if your way should falter
Along this stony pass

It’s just a moment
This time will pass

These lyrics, written by Bono, from U2, for Michael Hutchence, describe how I felt, stuck, in a moment, that I couldn’t get out of.  I knew I had to get better, I knew I was unwell, that I needed help, I just didn’t know how to admit it, to myself and other people around me. Shame, and fear, because I knew some people wouldn’t understand, kept me from asking for help. 

This week, the topic is an area I feel passionately about. I am speaking from personal experience, and also on behalf of others, who have been where I have been, and some who are still there.

In my bio, on Facebook and Twitter, I mention surviving Post Partum Depression and anxiety. I was unwell, after Big Girl was born, until she was 2. I have struggled with mild anxiety all of my life, and the depression took hold probably before she was born, but manifested properly the day she arrived. I have not written about it, mainly because it is still painful for me to talk about. One day I will.

But, I am not ashamed to admit I struggled with depression and anxiety, and I will talk about it, if asked. My reason for ranting this week is because I am angry and frustrated that people seem to think depression, anxiety and other mental health issues are either something they can’t deal with and when someone is struggling in this area, they run away, faster than you can say “I’ve got Ebola” or they say stupid and inane things like “you don’t need to feel this way, you COULD get better if you wanted to, just snap out of it” (yes, I have had this said to me)

I read a blog post yesterday, a fellow depression sufferer, who is struggling, and is finding that the world is less than compassionate to her struggles. It made me sad, to see that she has a GENUINE illness, yet she is being treated like she is making it all up, faking it, that she should “get over it” and people react so badly to her diagnoses. When you don’t understand something, sometimes it can make you feel uncomfortable. You may not know exactly what to say, or how to respond, but responding in ignorance and treating a person like they are less human, because YOU don’t comprehend what they are going through is just wrong. When someone has cancer, you don’t run away, pretend you don’t know them, freak out because you don’t know what to say or do, because you don’t understand what they are going through, so why do you react that way when someone has depression. It’s a recognised medical condition, it just isn’t’ physical. The brain is an organ, it can get sick, or not function properly, and cause our minds to breakdown, just like other parts of our body can cause problems.

someone with depression cannot HELP how they feel, they don’t choose how they feel, they don’t suddenly wake up one day, feeling like they want to end their lives, that they are not worthy  of love, of relationship, of their families and friends. They don’t want to struggle to function, to cope. We CANT HELP IT. WE DON’T WANT TO FEEL THIS WAY! It isn’t something you can just “stop” or “get over” and it deserves just as much sympathy and support as an actual physical illness. If someone told you they had cancer, you would hug them, support them, ask them how you can help them. You don’t tell them to get over it and snap out of it. Don’t do this to a person with a depression diagnoses (or any other diagnosis like anxiety, OCD, bulimia, anorexia etc.)

Depression doesn’t just go away. It doesn’t just leave. We don’t choose to be unwell, just as someone with cancer, or another illness doesn’t choose their disease. We can’t just wake up one morning, decide to no longer struggle, and be our normal selves.

We can choose to seek treatment, get therapy, take medications, deal with things that may be triggering or causing our illness, we can get help. But like other illnesses, this process takes time. We need love, patience, tolerance, and understanding as we try to heal and get ourselves into a better place. Sometimes this can take months, or even years. We are still people, we are unwell, you just can’t see it physically.

Please don’t patronise, or belittle someone with depression. If you don’t know what to say to someone with depression or anxiety don’t just push us away. Tell us “I don’t know how you feel, I don’t understand why you feel the way you do, but I want to be your friend, how can I help you?”. It’s not that hard. One day, hopefully we will be well, and we will have appreciated your support and love on our journey to healing.

I personally chose a mixture of things to treat my PPD and PPA. My faith and the church I belong to helped me, I also saw a psychiatrist, and then had Cognitive behaviour Therapy, both in a group and one on one sessions with a therapist. I chose not to take medication, because personally, most antidepressants don’t work well for me, I suffer from what is called the paradoxical effect with most of the commonly prescribed medications, and they either make me feel worse, or make me manic. The one or two that do work for me, were contraindicated for breastfeeding. I have been well, and depression free for almost 4 years, but I am still aware of how hard it was, what a hellish journey it was for me, my family and friends. There were points during my illness where I felt that I was not worthy of living and that my family would be better off if I died. There were days when I would literally be physically ill, when the depression and anxiety took over and even getting out of bed, and doing “normal” things were almost impossible. When you feel like this, to be told you need to “just get over it”, it is like being slapped in the face, then pushed deeper into the dark hole you are trying to get yourself out of.

I realise this is a long rant, I realise it’s a touchy topic, I realise it may be difficult to understand, but please, don’t do more damage, to someone who is battling for their life and their mind.

Rant over!

 

4 comments on “Friday’s Rants from the Soapbox in My Living Room!
  1. Dee says:

    That is such a moving and honest rant – and thanks for sharing. I’m lucky that, up to now at least, I’ve not suffered any form of depression so I would honestly hold my hands up and say I don’t understand what it’s like to have depression/anxiety – but I don’t feel that not understanding is an excuse for not being understanding. Thanks again for a wonderful post. xxxx

  2. Nina says:

    Thank you for putting this out. I applaud you.

    I think mental health problems should be renamed variants of ‘cerebral chemical imbalance’. Fewer people would have a problem reacting appropriately to that set of words. Depression and the behaviour it manifests are often almost impossible for the sufferer to recognise and accept, even after many years, so I can only imagine how bewildering it is to a well-meaning but directly-unaffected onlooker.

    We have ‘public level’ access to information about & broad understandings of diseases like whooping cough, chickenpox, measles, etc because they have a tidy tick-list of symptoms, clear patterns of visible progression and commonly-experienced medical intervention. Clearly not the case with most mental illness. And when something isnt well understood by the general public, it falls to misinterpretation, misrepresentation and cant receive the same degree of broad acceptance. Im not surprised people confuse depression with low-mood, because they look the same from the outside (I fooled myself about which was which for decades!). How can we make information about such a complex thing more accessible? Look at historical reactions to diseases like leprosy or HIV… such terrible stigma initially, but once we know more about a disease & how it ‘works’, society will accept it and treat its sufferers with the dignity they always deserved.

    It is a slow process, but I believe the tide is turning for mental health issues too. Research is being done & reported. People are now more generally aware of the mental health spectrum. (Think about how our societal awareness & understanding of conditions like Asperger’s or Bipolar Disorder have developed in the last decade). And why is that? Not because these are easy conditions to understand, to summarise in a list of symptoms or to teach to children in school. It is from high level reportage, people speaking up, breaking the taboos, laying themselves bare for the world to examine and see that actually, they’re dealing with people with illnesses, not people who swap heads with monsters in dark corners.

    It’s so important to share experience honestly, like you have done in your blog. This is where positive change will stem from. 🙂

    • motherofmadcatsandbabies says:

      “We have ‘public level’ access to information about & broad understandings of diseases like whooping cough, chickenpox, measles, etc because they have a tidy tick-list of symptoms, clear patterns of visible progression and commonly-experienced medical intervention. Clearly not the case with most mental illness. And when something isnt well understood by the general public, it falls to misinterpretation, misrepresentation and cant receive the same degree of broad acceptance. Im not surprised people confuse depression with low-mood, because they look the same from the outside (I fooled myself about which was which for decades!). How can we make information about such a complex thing more accessible? Look at historical reactions to diseases like leprosy or HIV… such terrible stigma initially, but once we know more about a disease & how it ‘works’, society will accept it and treat its sufferers with the dignity they always deserved”

      You said it far better than I did!

      Totally agree with your whole comment! Thank you! 🙂

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