One Woman’s Crawl Through Depression
My name is Tia, and I have depression. This weekly column will discuss the little bumps in the road, the lows, the highs, and the mundane existence of living with depression. ‘Insane in the Membrane’ will not pretend to have all, if any, answers to mental health. But it will use real situations that I have experienced in the attempt to chip away at the stigma of mental illness. Or, at least, the stigma that I see.
Over the past seven years, depression has been a big part of my life. It crept up on me in my teenage years, and I was oblivious until I couldn’t be. Admitting to yourself that something is wrong is not easy. In fact, it is quite heartbreaking. It felt like such an utter failure. For three years I kept quiet. Ignoring it. Resisting the urge to tell someone. I wish I had told someone from the start. It might have made the process easier, having a confidante. But I believed that my “failing” was a burden; in a world full of suffering, mine felt too small to matter.
I know now that this wasn’t correct. Friends and family can constantly surprise you with their generosity and understanding. No suffering, be it collective or individual, should be ignored.
One of the hardest things about my depression is the inconsistency. Never knowing when it’ll hit. On the good days I don’t see it coming and it grips me like a painful embrace. When it finally leaves I am left choking and scrambling for breath or a ledge to pull me back to reality. Panic attacks are motley: some are physically painful, others invoke terror and tears. Each one is horrible. I refused to tell even my closest friends about the frequency of my panic attacks. Days would go past and I couldn’t leave my room. The four comforting walls around me became my only solace, keeping me safe away from triggers and people. It took me a long time to convince myself that expressing emotions was not a burden on my friends. It did not reflect badly on me. Yet for so long I had thought it did.
Mental illness doesn’t care about your situation in life. It is indiscriminate. Mine was sudden, overwhelming, and unexplainable.
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Mental health always needs more support, socially and fiscally. Mind, Heads Together and Rethink offer easy ways to get involved/fundraise/donate/campaign. The Arch2Arch run, London Marathon and Tough Mudder can all be done in the name of mental health. Or, if you’re like me and not a natural athlete, you can use easy ways to recycle to raise awareness and donations alike. Petitions like Time to Change and the Survey of Mental Illness in the Workplace are a click away from de-stigmatising mental illness.
Sofa Activism is easy ways to give, and possibly the easiest of them is Savoo Search, just use it as your default search engine and it’ll donate 1p every time you search something to the charity of your choice (I would recommend through Rethink)
SAMH and Action Mental Health are aimed at Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively, targeting mental health stigma on a more regional scale. Mind Cymru and Mental Health Wales focus on Welsh Mental Health.