i have depression.
I have depression. This does not mean that I am weak. This does not mean that I am an attention-seeker. This does not mean that I am not capable of normal functioning. This is not an easy thing to disclose when it should be. I’m not writing about it because I need to talk. I’m not writing about it for attention or for something to explain away my irrationality, my laziness, my moodiness. I’m writing about it because more people need to. The term ‘depression’ is too often used out of context, too often used to explain away a moment of irritation or of flatness. Being sad does not amount to depression. It’s an illness. Not an emotion. It should not bear stigma, yet it does.
Depression is an illness. It does not always have a trigger. There are not always problems to solve (which makes it that much harder to work out of). The sadness (stillness) arrives without warning. It’s a heaviness in everything you do. It’s the feeling of bearing great grief when you are not grieving.
Alternately, it is a feeling of numbness. It is slipping through a curtain of dark water. My first bout of depression was empowering in that I, a fearful teenager, felt suddenly fearless. The dark, being out late by myself, noises when the house was empty no longer bothered me.
Depression comes in waves, often when you are alone. That’s why it’s easy to hide. When you’re busy, with people, out in the sunshine, the tide often draws back a little.
You know the feeling of waking up in the morning and realising you have the funeral of a loved one? Realising that this is the day you’re to undergo a risky surgical procedure? Imagine waking up with that feeling, that sick, curdling need for stillness with no reason to explain it away.
Some days breathing is an effort. Every breath is a little shock to the system, a little jag of adrenaline. These days, when breathing tires you out, are the days it’s so hard to get going.
Depression is not a sign of weakness. Depression feeds on silence and is suffered in silence. Stand up for it. If you have depression, let people know.
By Eliza-Jane Henry-Jones