Depression isn't just sadness, it'd a deep, uncontrollable spiral of hate, fear, self loathing and a painful sense of despair. It's blankness, emptiness, pain, fear, all of the negative emotions balled up and in one person ready to suffocate. It's shifting, spinning, changing and awful to its core. It seeps into everything, taints everything, turns the beautiful ugly, actions of grace into viciousness, love into hate, openness into closed. It twists and warps things.
In the UK mental illness accounts for a third of all illnesses, one person in six at any given moment will suffer from some kind of anxiety or depression and one in four will experience at least one mental illness in their life. Mental health conditions cost approximately £77 billion a year in the UK alone. Suicide is the leading cause of death in young people and adults under 45. In 2007 in the UK there were over 4000 suicides, over half of which were people under 45. These totals don't just account for depression, they also count in bipolar, manic depression, ADD&ADHD, Sever OCD, PTSD, anorexia, personality disorders, schizophrenia, dementia, strokes and eating disorders. The suicide rate is a terrifying fact to know... That through depression, desperation, untreated issues that overpower and take over peoples die. That so many people suffer so deeply that they cannot go on. They cannot face a tomorrow that weighs them so far down.
Too many people don't go for treatment for their mental illness, for their depression, through fear, embarrassment or a stubborn and ill-founded belief that they will be OK. That they could cope because they had until now. Not realising the power of their illness and the things it can do. The worst is when people know that they need help and still wont seek it because they are scared of how people will view them.
From the NHS website:
“Depression isn’t a sign of weakness, it's a chronic (long-term) condition that may require long-term management or treatment. Some people only have depression once, but many people have repeated episodes.
Getting help as soon as you think you may be depressed may prevent your depression getting worse. The exact causes of depression aren’t fully known. It seems more likely to occur if there's depression in the family, but having a depressed relative doesn't mean you'll necessarily become depressed yourself. Furthermore, there are a number of lifestyle factors or influences in the world around you that may increase the risk of you developing depression.”
The only people who can truly understand depression and the damage it can do are the people that suffer, or have suffered from it. Much like a migraine. Someone who has never had a migraine cannot understand it isn't “just a headache” (something I have heard many times while in the midst of a skull splitting, gut wrenching, pain fest.), it's so much worse than that. You can't really explain it. So someone who has never suffered from depression, even those who witness someone close to them suffering, cannot understand the depths of it. It isn't just sadness. It isn't just being miserable. It isn't just someone moping and refusing to be happy and OK and just get over it. It's someone who cannot get over it. Not without help. Because they don't have the equipment to cope.
Depression is the monster lurking under your bed. Grief can spark it. Trauma. Years of abuse. Chemical imbalance in the brain. Years of negativity. Sometimes they just don't know what causes it. Whatever the reason, it is there in many, but not all. Affecting how you feel, think, see and cope. How you act and react. How you see yourself and others and how your life unfolds.
My struggle with depression has lasted 10-12 years. I have seeked help only to be treated like it was nothing serious, so I stopped asking. Every few years when things got too tough I considered trying again before remembering the feeling of not being believed. I have attempted to cope, compensate and live. I merely survived and was lucky to manage even that. Now I'm going to take the step, ask for help and somehow start my journey of recovery. I hope others will too.
If you're reading this, you know who you are. Please do it.