Image that your life is futile. That no-one loves you, that you are repugnant, worthless and have no future. Imagine spending great chunks of each and every day crying. Imagine waking before dawn each day only to lie listlessly in bed for hours, your hopeless existence swirling around your head.
Imagine thinking you would rather be dead than live in the shadow of a huge black dog… this is reality for many people suffering from depression!
Mental health is a massive subject and likely to be something that Rebel In A Tutu will keep on coming back to, but as the BBC’s In The Mind season draws to a close, now seems as good a time as any to kick off the discussion.
Depression and anxiety are the most common forms of mental illness and it is estimated that 1 in 10 of us will suffer from one or other of these conditions during our lifetime. These statistics rise to more than 20% in the over 65s and yet relatively few sufferers have access to appropriate or timely treatment and are subjected to ignorance, misunderstanding and stigma.
Having suffered from clinical depression more than once myself, I find it vaguely insulting when people use the term lightly. You know, the person who turns up at work on Monday morning claiming to be depressed simply because they had a crap weekend. As if depression can descend overnight and disappear just as quickly! Real depression can leave a person incapable of turning up for work much less tell all their colleagues how they are feeling.
To the depressed it seems incredible that most people have never encountered the black dog whilst to non-sufferers, understanding depression is equally baffling.
And there’s the rub, depressives judge themselves harshly and feel inferior because they can’t cope with a world that most people seem to take in their stride. The media can play a vital role in breaking down these barriers of misunderstanding, reducing stigma and reassuring sufferers that they are not alone…
I Had A Black Dog, His Name Was Depression (WHO video) – this excellent animated video explains depression in straightforward layman’s terms.
BBC’s In The Mind – a two week series of programmes on mental health covering postpartum psychosis and bipolar disorder in depth together with soundbites on changing social attitudes, the NHS and the work of mental health charities.
6 Reasons Why People With Mental Illness Are Strong, Not Weak from huffingtonpost.com