I'm wary about harping on about depression. People glaze over; you can see them thinking, 'Oh here she goes again, jawing on about "the darkness".' Once you couldn't say 'gay' and before that it was the 'C' word and further back you couldn't even mention you were a witch - depression is the latest taboo.
And this isn't something that happens to a small minority, it's up to one in four of us, so where is everyone? If it's not you it's probably a relative or a friend - everyone knows someone. When Hamlet says, 'O, that this too too solid flesh would melt thaw and resolve itself into a dew!' That's got to be one of the most accurate descriptions of depression. (If a shrink heard you say that he'd have you on meds in seconds.) Part of the stigma lies in the fact that the word 'depressed' depicts a kind of 'down in the dumps' sentiment. Sadness or unhappiness is perfectly normal if something has not turned out the way you wanted it to or someone has died.
Depression is a whole other beast; it is not situation appropriate but when you find the old you is gone and has been replaced by a block of cement; to move is unimaginable. The voices in your head, however, are belting you- like bombs, incoming over Dresden - so loud, so relentless you get not one voice but about 100,000 abusive voices; like if the Devil had Tourette's. Depression doesn't care if you're famous, live in a mud hut or what culture you come from, it just loves everyone.
Those of you who do suffer know that we just need to look in each other's eyes and we recognise that we have the 'illness'. It's like a secret handshake. You can read depression loud and clear if you look into the eyes of a sufferer; there's no mistaking it, it's the look of a dead shark.
WE ARE NOT ALONE
What helps if you have depression is realising that you are not alone, that this 'illness' actually exists like any other physical illness; you are not making it up and you are not some self-indulgent, self-obsessed narcissist who's looking for pity or an excuse not show up at work or school. Find someone who shares your pain. Go and locate what I call a 'fucked buddy' - someone you can always call, day or night, when you can't take it anymore.
If you talk to people who don't understand they will nod and say how sorry they are and tell you to try and get better but they cannot feel it and will eventually get bored or, in extreme cases, leave you. (So many people have told me that they've been abandoned when they were in the depths of depression.) If you find someone who has what you have, they will never get bored; they will talk drugs, voices and heartache with you till the cows come home. They will relate and resonate with you, holding your hand through the agony.
My Suggestions (A Diatribe)
Alcoholics Anonymous has a system where you call your 'buddy' when you feel you want a drink and they will talk you down. Why can't we have meeting places like in AA, where they all get together for their 12-step thing and have cigarettes and cookies? How did they organise these get-togethers so well? They have meeting places on every corner of every block; more places than there are Starbucks and these people are drunks? How did they figure all this out? Why can't we do that? We're just as discriminated against as alcoholics; if you ever write that you suffer from a mental disorder on your CV, good luck ever landing a job. If you run a company and you've taken off more than six months because of a mental problem, you're fired. It should be against the law, just as it is with someone physically disabled.
The gays turned it around in my lifetime, now they're everywhere: politicians, CEOs, generals, lords, hairdressers... Let's go find where they keep their old rainbow banners, high-heels and tutus that they wore during their gay parades, put them on and march to parliament with pitch forks screaming, 'WE ARE MENTALLY ILL, WE ARE THE ONE IN FOUR AND PROUD. CHANGE THE LAWS. WE ARE LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.' Take it or leave it. My political rant is over.
I'm on the road talking about how I use mindfulness in my Sane New World tour until the end of May. There are still a few tickets left in Cornwall, Dartford and Watford!