To suffer from a mental illness, in 2015, still feels like a taboo. If you suffer from an illness of this kind it can feel as if you are lurking on the outer edges of 'normal' society. You wake up each day suffocated by the expectations of society in which getting up and going to work is a walk in the park. Okay, we all get the heaviness of having to go to work but being mentally ill isn't a heaviness but a noose round your mind. It makes the smallest task a behemoth to face and it's like having wooden spears to defend against an automatic rifle.
I have been blessed to be told again and again that my depression is a very real and very valid condition. I have been comforted that I can have dignity in what I face each day because it is not 'in my head' (although literally it is) but something which needs professional treatment and long term care. I know that in the midst of my despair I have a valid reason to say, "I can't do it today, I am simply not well enough." There is the dark cultural lie that permeates my mind though, the lie that I just need to get over it.
I am much better than I was three months ago, I no longer want to self-harm and I no longer want to die. The problem I face though is the delusion that I am therefore fixed and can run, full steam ahead, with no worries of any consequences. Today though, today I woke up and for no apparent reason I realised I felt worthless and utterly useless. I felt like I had regressed somehow and wasn't as recovered as I thought I was. It took me hours to to the basic things of getting up, having a shower and eating. I cried because it seemed as if I wasn't as far on the path of wellness that I thought I was. Darkness surrounded me so quickly it was truly terrifying.
What brought me comfort was how, in those dark thoughts, I was able to rationalise that I was on a path of recovery. I was able to almost step outside of myself and look at how many gargantuan steps I have recently taken to recovery and actually I was even able to see those steps. In the depths of depression it is almost impossible to see beyond the blackness but I was able to see the grey light and it was utterly wonderful. Mental illness is not the champion over me; it may knock me about and make me mentally bloodied and bruised but I am still standing.
I am mentally ill. I am battling an unseen force of horrendous magnitude. I am still here though declaring it has not beaten me and has not made throw in the towel. I will keep having to confront those dark days but through the wonderful work of the NHS and my dear friends and family I am able to reach out and cling on to the light. World Mental Health Day is vital to the public consciousness because it voices so many silent screams. It validates the need for people to receive love and care when all they feel is darkness and despair. It declares that this horrid illness does not hold dominion over us and we can find comfort. No matter how small. No matter how threadbare. There is comfort. There is support. There are other voices, like mine, saying, "There is hope."