Adventures of Depression Boy in the Fog of DoomPosted: May 13, 2014
This is a blog I’ve written for Mental Health Awareness Week at work. I was asked to describe depression.
I’ve written and talked a lot about depression since I first ‘went public’ three years ago. It’s an everyday subject for me now. Being open about it might seem to have given me a kind of superpower and turned me into Depression Boy – the plucky underdog who has fought to overcome an evil genius hell-bent on demolition.
That’s the comic-book version of fighting depression, but the reality is far less exciting. Battling depression has been a long, mundane, drawn-out process that has involved counselling, medication, education and the support, patience and kindness of family, friends, colleagues and strangers who I’ve got to know through social media, over months and years.
Depression is like a thick, energy-sapping fog that gets into your head and drains you of vitality. It’s not the sort of villain that you can shoot, kick or punch with a Batman-style ‘KERPOW!’
It operates by stealth, creeping about in the shadows and striking hardest when you’re on your own; when nobody else can see. The outside world sees you smiling and carrying on, but in your head, in your inner turmoil, you’re fighting a constant battle against an onslaught of ever-churning destructive thoughts and feelings.
This secretive stalking is what gives depression its power. It’s a bully in your brain, trapping you in your own private prison, relentlessly battering you with anger and self-doubt, crushing your confidence, eroding your self-esteem and erasing your memory. You feel paranoid, vague, weak and ashamed. Even now that I have been well for a while, there are dips and those feelings return – for briefer spells, thankfully.
The feelings of weakness and shame stop us talking about depression, which makes it hard for people to understand. In turn, this can create ignorance, misunderstanding and stigma, which only makes matters worse for people living with the illness.
But here’s the good news. You can get through depression and rediscover what life was like before it came along, using what you’ve learned along the way to create a new, wiser version of yourself, better equipped to cope with any future attacks.
The only superpowers you need are hope and, if you feel up to it, openness. Talk to someone about it. Bring it out of the dark, and like me, you will discover there are countless other people who have been through it and are still going through it – people who can help and empathise.
The more of us who expose this cruel enemy for what it is, the weaker its powers over us will become.