The worst place in the world to be, other than London’s Oxford Street at Christmas, is the human brain. Sure, sometimes it’s a pretty fun place (eating cake, laughing, that kind of stuff) but if you happen to be one of the one in four people in the UK who suffer from some form of mental illness, it can be a right cunt.
Depression is one of the fastest-spreading conditions on the planet. An estimated 450 million people worldwide have a mental health problem. If they’re not tied up with some form of depression then they’ll be busy with it’s close associate, anxiety. What a bummer.
There’s still a lot of misunderstanding around depression, its symptoms and even the treatments for it. There’s been some major strides over the last couple of years in treating mental health conditions but it’s still an inexact science. If you ask a cross-section of the populace, some of them will recommend seeing a doctor but others will recommend a variety of comically flimsy cure-all solutions like taking Vitamin D, finding Jesus or even a gluten-free diet (or my personal favourite, the face-punchingly irritating “just be a bit more positive.”) What a drag.
But fret not, because I’m here to clear up some myths around the condition and provide some basic steps for getting a body out of the misery hole, if that body is either yours or that of someone you know. I was diagnosed with depression way back in 2008 and while I can’t claim to be an expert, I’ve had enough experience with it to know some basics facts, dos and don’ts, etc. And unlike the wet tissue-paper advice mentioned above, the tips below have worked for me and several people I know who all suffer from it, so dry those eyes and take a deep breath. We’re gonna turn that frown upside one way or another:
1) THERE’S NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF
One of the biggest misconceptions about depression is that a person is somehow “weak” or “inferior” if they are suffering from it. “Oh boohoo, bit sad are we? What if you were a starving orphan, THEN you’d have something to be sad about.” And so on. The fact is that while depression can be linked to events in a person’s life, it can very often exist even when there’s nothing “wrong” in their lives at all. Depression is a medical condition with all sorts of contributing factors, one that requires dedicated treatment if it is to be managed, the same as any major condition like diabetes or a broken leg. If someone is depressed, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re super-delicate or a drama queen. On the contrary, it means they’ve been carrying too heavy a load for too long, something in them has finally snapped and they can no longer cope. So if you are depressed, there is no need whatsoever to feel guilty. You’ve done nothing wrong, and admitting you may have a problem is a big step in the right direction.