When your mental health is struggling, there are so many things that once felt easy, but now seem impossible. Depression in particular can root you to the spot, begging you to hit life’s pause button so you can hide under a blanket indefinitely.
While I’ve never been formally diagnosed with depression, I’m confident I’ve experienced it. I always felt like my anorexia grew from a hole of depression, like fertile soil feeding a weed.
One thing I remember finding particularly hard at that time was talking.
Telling people how I felt, what was really going on in my mind. I hid behind that familiar “I’m fine” mask so many of us wear so well.
And I know I’m not alone on this, depression has this incredible power to hold us back from reaching out. There are a hundred reasons why someone with depression will find it difficult to talk, but these two always stood out for me:
Feeling as if you have nothing to be ‘sad’ about, feeling like you’re whining, being dramatic, comparing your problems to world hunger – I have been there my friend. When I was struggling (and let’s be honest, even now when I’m having a down day) I could sit down and reel off all the reasons I have to be happy and grateful in my head, and still feel indescribably awful.
This guilt turns depression into a huge pill that you’re constantly trying to swallow down. You keep telling everyone you’re fine because, hey – what do you have to be sad about?
Then comes the shame, stigma and embarrassment of it all. You feel as if you should be able to cope. You think others will see you as weak, a failure. You worry people will say you’ve ‘lost it’ and slowly disappear from your life. There’s a huge amount of fear when it comes to talking about mental health.
Do you want to know something interesting though? These feelings, these thoughts, these emotions… they all come from depression itself. Depression likes to pull you down and cover your mouth. It wants you to feel guilty and ashamed.
It wants this because it wants to survive. It knows the minute you take that first step to speak up and talk to someone, it’ll start to lose its power.
The more you talk, the less power it has until eventually it is whittled down to a tiny, manageable thing you can tuck into your pocket.
This is the message SANE wants to spread with their new campaign, #LetMeTalk.
Let me talk
For those of you who don’t know, SANE is a mental health charity and it has one of the most active mental health crisis lines in the UK.
Their campaign turns depression into a physical form, a person trying to stop you reaching out. And what’s so important about this is understanding that you are not your depression. Those achingly painful thoughts, those heavy feelings and relentless exhaustion are not coming from you. They’re coming from depression.
Being able to make this differentiation can be a game-changer. Once you realise you still have a voice, you still have the power to talk – everything gets a little easier.
Here is the campaign video which depicts depression exactly as it is – an abusive bully who wants control. One thing you can do today to take back that control and find your voice is to pick up the phone and speak to someone – a friend, a family member, even the SANE helpline.
Know that you are not alone and that you are not your depression. You are still the same incredible person you’ve always been, you just need a little help. And that’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Sending lots of love and light to anyone searching, I hope this campaign helps you find your voice in the dark.
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