Spotting the signs of depression can be difficult - especially if your partner is unlikely or unwilling to talk about how they're feeling. But severe depression can make a man feel helpless or worthless - and it may get worse without treatment.
For a lot of people involvement in theatre, music and art can educate. It can battle isolation, loneliness and, as dramatic as it sounds, I believe that the love of art can be a reason to get up in the morning and live! Through the dark periods of my life, art in many different guises has been a glittering light in the darkness.
Oh no, not another blogpost about Depression, I wish it would go away. Funnily enough so do a lot of us. But it won't. It's here to stay, this 21st Century disease, or could there be signs of similar dark phantoms in the psyche of our past?
The 'Time to Change' campaign has been instrumental in tackling stigma around mental health and on 4 February, their 'Time to Talk' day encourages people to talk openly about mental illness. I've suffered with depression and anxiety for most of my life and I can vouch for the fact that talking about it has helped and probably saved my life.
I don't really think I can explain to you why I'm here...how I ended up slouched down here tonight, why I'm so upset that I keep almost throwing up from all of the gut-wrenching sobs...I'm not really sure I understand why myself.
I came across the above quote on twitter this morning. It practically screamed at me from the screen, because it encapsulates everything that is wrong (this is just my opinion of course) with how we view mental health issues, and how they are portrayed by the media.
I had the first walk-in session last week at the Arts Theatre and it was a hit - if a walk-in session can be a hit. People came in in all sizes; young, old, straight, gay, all nations represented. It's pretty clear everyone wants and needs to talk, just to feel heard and understood by compassionate people who feel the same.
I'm not unhappy, I'm sick. Depression is not a feeling, it's not a way of describing a sh*t day or a low mood, it's a serious mental illness and when people confuse it for a emotional response to a bad situation, it compounds the belief that I'm weak, a failure, unable to cope with the realities of human existence. And that gives me more impetus to pretend.
Taking scary challenges in a step-by-step way can be really helpful. I'm a big fan of lists and sticker charts and I find it really helpful to look at a problem and break it down in a way that is gradually achievable but doesn't cause me too much stress along the way. I know if I become too overwhelmed, I'm likely to either give up or keep putting off the next steps until tomorrow.
I can't always explain why it happens, why a dark fog just envelopes my whole being and slowly starts to smother me, why my thoughts turn against me, why I can't just "put my face straight".
As my children have got older, we've more or less reclaimed our evenings and the small hours of the night now serve only for sound sleep. But not too long ago it was a very different story and the memories of those long, dark soul destroying nights etched their name in my very being forever!
He died last week and it's more heart-breaking than anything I've felt before. I feel like my insides have been gouged out and nothings left. He formed me and saved me. I know that by now I'd be either institutionalised, heavily medicated or dead. I have to thank him and can't.
It is okay to let our past shape us, but it should not dictate to us. It is okay to let our fears give us caution, but it should not prevent us. We are ourselves today, not a person held back by yesterday. Life is to be lived, it begins now.
Depression makes me a burden. I think, 99% of the time that depression makes me a burden for others, but in all honesty depression just makes me a burden to myself. The thing that convinces me that I'm a burden to others is the stigma of mental illness.
How are you? No, how are you really? Because just for today, you can legitimately respond with something other than, "Fine thanks." I may not be the first person to point out to you that today is Blue Monday, supposedly "the most depressing day of the year". Well, shut the front door; it's not. The term was coined back in 2005 as part of an advertising campaign, and has been spreading misunderstanding ever since. A quick Google will tell you that the whole concept is a load of rubbish and has about as much scientific basis as Ghostbusters.
It badges the likes of depression as a condition that's about being upset with the cold January weather, Christmas debts and the back to work humdrum that can be solved by a shopping spree, snuggling up with a hot chocolate or contemplating starting a new hobby.