I have depression.
I know that’s unclear. I know I can state in various ways to make you think that perhaps it is more than just getting upset, or giving up on things. I have a depressive disorder. I’ve been hospitalised with depression three times. I take anti depressants, and anti psychotics. Excusing myself from certain things because I have issues. I have attempted suicide more than once..
I can tell you, or if you know me you might see, how it affects my life. If you are unlucky enough to be close to me during a bad period, you will see me be both debilitated and frightened and in some ways frightening, and unable to cope with the world. In other environments you will see me cry over things that are completely unimportant, or get irrationally upset, or excuse myself and go quiet. You might hear me talk about self harm, or anxiety attacks, or suicidal thoughts. I’ll probably tone it down, or talk about other things, or even mention it in a conversational manner, because I do want to do other things, and think about other things, and in the hope if I mention it.
So you’ve gathered now that I have issues?
If I make every effort to talk about my issues, my disability, openly and sensibly, is it my problem that you don’t understand it, or that it’s frightening to watch, or just confuses you? Yes and no. It will almost certainly effect me adversely, that you don’t understand, but it is a problem I have, not a problem with me. The problem is you not understanding, or not even trying to understand. I accept that you don’t get it. That’s fine. But get that you don’t get it, and that that is a problem with you.
I would also make it quite clear that I have spent a fair bit of time thinking about my disability and my problems, and how to fix them, and what fixing them means. I also know what they are, what a warning sign is, and what I feel like when depressed. Every way I can feel when depressed. And they are not the ways you feel. They are not the ways you feel whether you are someone who has stubbed their toe at the end of a bad day, someone who’s about to start a course of a talking therapy for anxiety issues or moderate depression, or someone who’s been on exactly the same meds as me for the same amount of time. Our thoughts and feelings are unique, the distorted things that can happen to them are also unique. So I won’t tell you I know what you feel, and what you should do.
But I have issues and I tell you about them or their visible. That does not make it okay to use them against me. There are ways, if I am being upset or irrational, of calming me down or giving me space. And half the time I know it’s irrational, anyway, and I don’t want to be feeling or thinking it. Being told I’m weak, or odd, or making things difficult for you, making things about the issues which are nothing to do with you on to get attention, or because I haven’t worked on them, or if I worked a bit harder I would be fine, does not help. Furthermore using the fact that I have issues to win an argument, or get out of a conversation, or dismiss me, when done in an obvious and confrontational way, and done assuming that I haven’t thought about it- it makes you a bigot and a coward. And you do assume I haven’t thought about it. I am willing to think about it more, but I would also like you to think about your issues, your presumptions and not just assume I’m irrational, or able to be dismissed. You can dismiss me, and my actions and reactions and feelings, but that doesn’t mean you should. And it doesn’t mean that it’s okay for other people to excuse behaviour or actions, because my problems are scary, or difficult to watch or understand, when I’m trying my best not to do that myself and I am the person who is going through them