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Saturday, 1 June 2013

Preaching to the Choir


I started writing to reduce it.

But for who?

One thing that I have learned, through this journey, is no one really gets it unless they've been through it or going through it.

I'm not sure that can ever change.

I mean really, honestly, I've spent hours thinking "why can't I just snap out of it?" and I've got the damn illness.  Of course someone who has never experienced it would think the same thing.

But that's where empathy comes in, I hear you say. That's where it's our job to explain support.

Yeah. Support. What is that for someone who doesn't truly get it?

They read the literature that says understand. Listen. Be there.

So they pay the bills. They do the housework. They listen to you say you can't. They are there. And all the while? They wonder why the hell you can't.

And frankly, it's a perfectly reasonable question.

If you've never had depression.

Admit it.

Before you had it, did you get it?

Did you understand that some days you can get dressed and put a smile on your face for the outside world but inside be crumbling?

Did you understand that some days you'd wish you'd never been born yet still laugh at something on TV?

Did you get that sometimes doing dishes was an impossibility because? Because you? Because you had no idea why?

Would you have imagined that you'd fantasize about running away all the while going through the daily routine?

Would you have imagined it possible to smile at that happy baby even though you felt nothing?

Of course not.

That's why I preach to the choir.

The choir of women who think they're alone.

You're not.

Changing the stigma to those who have never felt the crushing blow of depression is something I no longer think is possible.

I want to change it so those who feel it ask for help.

So those who think they are alone know they are not.

Depression sucks. It is debilitating, but from the inside.

We put on our masks. We know the stigma is alive. We don't tell our co-workers. We are sometimes afraid to admit it to our partners. We are even more afraid to admit it to ourselves.


We are not alone.

It's dark. It's hard. It destroys things that sometimes can't be put back together.

But it is not our fault.

It is an illness.

It is silent.

It is deadly.

It is scary and unknown to those who have not felt it.

But we can persevere.


I am sometime quiet, but

I am one of you.


Susan said...

Oh, Sandy. Yes. The support we give each other by letting fellow sufferers know they are not alone is invaluable. But I do think that we also decrease stigma in some people who have never experienced depression. For example, I have many close friends and family who see depression as something a little less mysterious because they know me and I've talked openly about my experiences. And at the very least, they know now that depression is not a character weakness. My friends and family thought the world of me and they still do. I hope that they next time they encounter someone with depression (or find themselves struggling) they will think of me and find it a little less scary - a little less shameful.

Jen Gaskell said...

Sandy, I did not "get it" either until I had depression. The anxiety has been with me for years, but the depression surfaced with PPD. I think that my family and friends are more understanding now that I have suffered with it. I spoke up to help other moms know they aren't alone. I told my entire family because I am one of the oldest grandchildren. How many other cousins would suffer in silence if they couldn't realize what this was? You are definitely one of these strong voices. Hugs. Thinking of you. xoxo

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