Hello World; or In Which Even The Small Things Are Hard

Living with a mental illness can be crippling in the everyday lives of the sufferer. Simple tasks such as going outside, making friends, going to work, or even spending time with family: these are all simple things that, for somebody in mental distress, can be much more challenging.

I speak to you as a sufferer of depression. I cannot comment on the specific difficulties of sufferers of bipolar disorder, or schitzophrenia, however I feel that my six and a half years of experience with depression puts me in a position to speak as someone who understands the pain.

When depression takes a hold, everyday life becomes a struggle in itself. Waking up in the morning is harder, because no matter how much you sleep, you never feel refreshed. You lack the energy to get out from under the covers and open the curtains. Outside it may be a beautiful day, but when your mood is low and lethargy is present, it sometimes doesn’t matter what is happening outside of your window. At times, the acts of showering, brushing your hair or brushing your teeth, become hard. When all you want to do is lay in bed it can be difficult to kickstart your day.

However, even if you are able to complete these tasks with relative ease, the bigger things in life are not so easy to accomplish. Take my current situation. I have just finised my final year at university. I now have 2 months in which to find a job in order to fund my living expenses at the end of my tenancy. The negativity that stays with me because of depression makes me doubt my every move. It is currently so crippling that I can’t even bring myself to send a single job application. How many chances have I lost because I scared myself out of it? And even when I think I have it under control, and the application is ready to go, the anxiety throws at me images of rejection and embarrassment that stop me from sending it off. What if my CV isn’t right? Do I have enough work experience? What if I don’t have good enough qualifications? How will I ever be able to pull it together long enough to ace an interview? All that stress. It’s devastating.

Every single thing I do is ruled over by depression. My eating pattern is so out of sync that after half a digestive biscuit and four sips of tea, I was full. I have an anxiety over cooking and eating in front of people, which makes it hard living in a shared house. I worry that they’ll judge me for what I eat. I worry they’ll see me cooking and wonder why I need food, surely I’m heavy enough already? I even get preoccupied with the fact my boyfriend is lighter than me. Without the heaviness of anxiety that comes with the depression gig, I’m sure I’d have a more positive outlook on the situation. I know that my anxieties and fears are in my mind, and that nobody really cares, but when you live life in the deep-end it’s hard to remember you can swim.

I once heard the phrase “you are only the main character in your own story. To everybody else you are merely a blip in their own plotline.” This, I feel, is a very important phrase. To those of us who have tasted the fear of rejection, of embarrassment, of apprehension, it may seem a mammoth task. But it is very helpful to remind ourselves of it everyday. In our own stories, we are the only one who truly matters. We worry about ourselves, and those we hold dear. The other people we pass in the street mean very little to us in the grand scheme of things. We see blurs of faces smudged out by the ego of ourselves, and we forget those smudges before too long. To the bus driver who waited while you struggled to add the change you needed, you are an ant. He doesn’t care for you, nor your ant-hill, he only cares that he gets his money and he can be home for tea at seven. To the server at McDonalds who listens to you stammer out your order worried he will call you fat for ordering a bigger burger, you are dust. He doesn’t feel a thing for you, he only wants to do his job to get the money for a new games console.

We need to stop worrying about the little things. But do you think depression will let us do that? No, sir. We need to push past that. Everytime your inner monologue starts reeling what ifs and buts you have to tell it “no, I willl not hear you.” Be mindful of the possibilities but do not let them make your choice. It is your life to be lived as you want. If you want that cheeseburger with fries, you walk up to that counter and you state your intention. You look him in the eye and smile because, you know what?, a cheeeburger sounds damned good right now and it’s just about lunchtime.

Life is a war, and every day is a battle. You won’t win them all. some days will be spent in the foetal position in the dark. But some days you will wake up and tell your depression, “no, I will not hear you.” You will pull yourself out of bed, throw open your curtains to the day and announce yourself to the world. “I am awake. I am alive. And I am coming for you.”


Depression: Not Just For Christmas

The thing a lot of people seem to forget about depression is that it is not a feeling. It is a mood. It is not temporary, like sadness or anger. It is a long term, persistent entity within a person’s life. And this can sometimes be the hardest thing to deal with.

When things go wrong, a person with depression will likely feel it comes on stronger. It will feel like a constant strain. A daily struggle. An hourly struggle even, on the bad days. When things don’t seem to be working in your favour, it can feel like the end of the world, every day. You are exhausted, tired all the time no matter how much you sleep, your limbs always heavy with that dull emptiness that comes with the gig. And while, true, you probably do have several good things in your life, it can be hard to see it.

As a sufferer, I can tell you how hard that daily struggle can be. The battle with yourself, your family, your peers, the outside world in general. That internal fight with your demons, past and present. That fight never ends, not really. It subsides, battles are won, but the war remains. I don’t say this to make it seem all doom and gloom, it is just the truth. And the truth should be known, no?

If a person with depression says they are okay, this can mean they are not. But don’t assume all people with depression lie when they say this. Some really are okay, on that day, compared to their ‘everyday’ inside their head. The day before they may have been curled on their bedroom floor, knees to their chest, salt-streams on their cheeks and feeling the world was cruel and unforgiving. The day they say “I’m okay”, maybe they really are.

And it’s hard for a sufferer of depression whose life has improved too. Take mine for example. I have good housemates, a good house, a wonderful boyfriend, this position as a writer for this great online magazine, and if I put my mind to it I could do well at university. I have all the blocks I need to build a perfectly happy life for myself, but it is hard. Past failures plague the minds of people in this position. Knowing what could go wrong, worrying if it will. Insecurities, anxieties, apprehension. No matter how good the quality of the blocks, sometimes building it can be complicated. Just because we have the blocks, doesn’t mean we know how to build something stable with it. Even when things are looking up, that niggling at the back of the mind reminds us it is not over. Bad days will come, and we need to be prepared to deal with that.

Depression is different for every individual, but a lot of things are the same: lethargy; insecurity; social anxiety; self-loathing and doubt; fear. We all fear the darkness, but it can be overcome. And that is the point of this whole thing: things may be bad, things may get bad again, but they can look up.

I always say the pendulum must swing the other way, and that stands with my view on depression. Things will always get worse, but they also will get better. It’s all in how you deal with it that makes the difference.

I’m going to try and do this without the stereotypical preaching, but if you, or someone you know, has been feeling significantly down – and by this I mean more than a single bad day here and there – do go and talk to someone. Don’t let things fester. Talk to a friend, a family member, a doctor, a counsellor. Just talk. Talking about it is what teaches us about it and helps us to move forward. Don’t suffer if the help is there. I have made that mistake too often. Don’t follow my example. If you don’t tell someone what’s wrong, how can they help?

Samaritans: 0845 790 90 90
PAPYRUS: 0800 068 41 41
CALM: 0800 58 58 58

Or alternatively, follow this link for a detailed list of hotlines: http://www.allaboutcounseling.com/crisis_hotlines.htm

If It Ever Gets That Bad (What People With Depression Want You To Know)

A very good post about depression, and the thought process behind the actions of a person suffering with it. well-written and definitely worth checking out other posts by A Morning Grouch.

A Morning Grouch

Everyone who has battled with depression has their own analogy for it and for me, it’s drowning. I’ve been riding high and dry the last few years but after Baby Grouch Number Two was born, I was swiftly sucked out to sea in a riptide. It happened quickly, a sharp jerk that startled and surprised me. Because, we’re always surprised when it comes back, aren’t we?  We always think it’s gone for good because we are strong and capable and we really don’t have anything to be sad about, anyway. We’ve got it all. Except no matter what, it creeps back in, like a looping vine ruining the landscaping in the backyard that we can never get rid of, even with the strongest of weed killers.

Every depressive sometimes considers how they might end it, if it got bad enough. It might just be a flicker of a thought…

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Stop The Silent Killer. Let’s Talk About It

Following the recent suicide of actor and comedian Robin Williams, the subject of mental health has once again become the topic on the tongues of people worldwide. It hit me hard that the nature of his passing was suicide. But what got me more were the numerous comments across the interweb labelling him as “selfish” and asking “what did he have to be depressed about?” It sickens me. The ignorance.

Education in the world of mental health, to quote a friend, is sorely needed. And this is what this blog is aimed at doing. Bringing your stories, stories of mental health, your struggles, your battles with depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, to light. The world needs to get to grips with the unspoken world of mental illness.

And it is exactly that. An illness. It is not something you can just “get over” by “thinking positive”. Deep breathing, taking a ‘chill pill’, meditation, yoga. Shit. You think we haven’t tried it? It’s a sickness. A crippling, killing illness. And it needs to be talked about. It is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s heartbreaking that people feel they have to hide their true feelings. Society needs a wake up call.

And we’re going to give it to them.

Stop The Silent Killer is designed as a platform for you to share your stories. Stories of survival, stories of pain. To tell the world how you felt at your worst, how you got back to your best. To tell us all what it is like to live with a mental illness. If you are struggling, talk to us. If you are in pain and don’t know who to turn to, turn to us. Turn to the readers. Turn to the ones who get it. Help each other. Help yourselves. This should be a place of peace, not hate. A place of love, sharing, help.

We need to stop the silent killer. Mental health should not spend any longer in the shadows. Let’s bring it into the light. Let’s get the word out there. Let’s inform those ignorant bastards of the internet exactly what we have to be depressed about and goddamn it let’s not wait to do it.

To share a story with us, you can leave it in a comment on a post and others can comment on it. Or if you want to share it on a wider scale, share a longer story, share your whole story, send it to me at stopthesilentkiller@hotmail.com and I will turn it into a post for everybody to see. I will get your voice out there as best as I can and the people of this blog can help one another. This is all about sharing our feelings and getting help. Even if you simply have information on mental health you wish to put across, send that to me to and I will put it here. Consider me your agony aunt. Talk to me personally if you want, or send me something to put in a post in its own right. I will keep it anonymous if you wish. Privacy and protection is important to me and I wouldn’t do anything to put that at risk. Or if you have a blog and want to guest post, send me the link to your blog with your email and I will advertise your page.

Stop the silent killer. Let’s talk about it.