Depression: beat the bully in your brainPosted: April 25, 2013
Dealing with depression has taught me – among many other things – to try not to take things personally. But there’s one thing I really do take personally, and that’s depression itself.
Depression is a cruel, malicious bully, and its most devastating weapon is that it knows you better than you know yourself. It knows how to hurt you. It is merciless and relentless.
Bullies can cause terrible damage to your mental health, and their words and actions can stay festering in your head for years. Depression is a particularly effective and nasty bully because it’s inside your head, pulling the strings. There is no escape from it. It attacks you with your own thoughts.
It’s not just a mental bully. It gets physical too – headaches, nausea and all manner of other ailments that add up to more things to worry about and cope with.
What I really resent about depression, though, is how it can affect your relationships with those closest to you. When you’ve been used to carrying on and dealing with everything that life throws at you, it’s a mean twist that you can feel like a burden to the people who love you.
That feeling of helplessness breeds further frustration and anger, making you irritable. This irritability is blended with a feeling of deadening detachment, an intolerance of noise, an inability to concentrate, hopelessness and drowsiness – a toxic blend that turns you into a drifting, zombie-like presence in your own home, sleepwalking through each day and staring at the ceiling at night.
And, to add guilt to the mix, you’re not the only one having to deal with what’s going on in your head. Your black cloud rains on your loved ones too – and depression makes sure you’re painfully aware of how hard it is for them. You’re used to being the strong person who’s always there for your partner (my wonderful wife, Jane, in my case) and children, then suddenly there’s a grinding, long-lasting problem for them to deal with every day. And not only can you not help them with it; you know that the problem is you.
Jolly stuff, eh?
There is some good news. Depression doesn’t have to win. You can beat it, and one way you can do that is to treat it like a bully and expose it. Bullies – and depression – lose some of their power if their oppressive, intimidating, secretive tactics are brought out into the open. Tell someone about it.
I’ve found counselling invaluable in driving my depression out into the daylight. Now I see each bit of progress I have made, am making, and will make as a satisfying kick in depression’s nether regions.
Don’t get mad – get even. Many of us have been through this soul-destroying illness. The more of us who talk about it, the more we can learn from each other and the more we can kick depression where it hurts.
I hate depression, but instead of dwelling on that hate and being led by it, I am now able – with the support of family, friends and anyone who reads my blog – to tackle it head on, and give myself the best possible chance of leaving it fully behind me. Forever.