Compassion driven underground

After posting about my experience of depression and anxiety, I received an incredible out-pouring of emotion and support from my friends, family and colleagues.  I was genuinely shocked by the number of high-functioning, beautiful people that I deeply respect who contacted me not out of pity, but because they have had similar experiences.The stigma of mental health perpetuates the sense of helplessness that is at the centre of depression. In its absence, we would all feel more ownership of our mental-wellbeing, and would be more equipped to nurture the small flame of opportunity found flickering in the deep core of self-awareness,which can only be laid bare by such a destructive process.

I’ve captured some snippets from the messages below. All were anonymised and used with permission.

As someone who’s also suffered with depression for many years, hope is often the only reason for getting out of bed some days.

I had a brush with [depression and anxiety] last year I think, though I’ve never been diagnosed. Looking back, it was anxiety that became paralysing and put me into a depressive state. It really is a different thing to simply feeling a bit low and I only understood that after spending weeks not being able to properly function.

It’s great to see your success and good work on Facebook. It’s also comforting that someone I felt such a kinship with at a young age has had similar experiences to me.

Having been on the anxiety/depression roller coaster ride myself for years, being honest with yourself about it, speaking out, and getting help are about the toughest tasks to accomplish and it looks like you’ve already checked those off the list! It sucks knowing that recovery is a process and that you might just feel this way again in a few years time, but what helps me is to remember that at some point, you will feel more like yourself.

This is brilliant, and something I can really relate to.

I can’t know how you feel. I can’t even pretend to do. But I can imagine because I went through Depression too. And here is a writing I found, and that I wrote when I was there. “Why ? That is a question too many people ask, not knowing it is one of the most difficult to answer. It brings up depth. You need to dig deeper in your mind and soul, you need to go behind your actions and thoughts to answer it. And that, my dears, is so uncomfortable. We are used to be shallow, to stay shallow and we are happy that way. Or, at least, we are not sad that way. But, once the Pandore Box opened, there is no comeback. You need a human strength to end the pain by suicide, but a divine one to close it again. “

I think you summed things up really accurately with the flatness.

Just read your blog post which apart from leaving tears in my eyes, is also something I wish I’d done myself when I ended up taking a year out last year due to not leaving my room for practically a month and I still find it hard to call it depression. However I made it through finals just about this year although [medical school] are shit at helping students with mental health issues. Now on my elective and there have been some pretty low moments but having gone through much worse periods last year, it helps me put life in perspective. Especially since I thought I’d never leave my house this time two years ago. I even contemplated stealing my grandfather’s insulin at one point.

I’ve wanted to write something similar for a long time but I guess I don’t feel ready .

Your post really resonated with me as I suffered from depression for a year myself, although I never got help or took medication – mostly because I didn’t realise I had depression. I really hope and believe you will be on your way up now you have identified the illness, doing that helped me so much. It was this realisation and reading the books of the Dalai Lama – in particular The Art of Happiness that pulled me out – I would really really recommend it.

I certainly felt empty inside, didn’t want any human interaction and just wanted to stay in bed forever. I felt like an alien had invaded my body and taken out every desire to do or feel anything and everything that made up my identity.It didn’t help that I was living abroad at the time. I took no joy in anything and at its worst although I never came to the edge of actually thinking about how to commit suicide I very much did not want to be alive. That was a few years ago now and I am now a very happy human being again, although I could not possibly imagine that at the time. I am still prone to overwork which can trigger feelings though and I have to watch out for that.

I’m a long term user of antidepressants.

The more people talk about how they’re actually feeling, the easier it is for everyone to know they’re not alone. I hope you’re getting all the support you need- there’s a lot out there, as much as it can be hard to find. It may not make things easy, but you’re definitely not alone.

You are not alone :)

I myself have never suffered from depression but I find that many around me are including my father which has greatly affected him and the rest of my family. Reading about how it feels helps me to understand as it is often something so hard to describe while you’re actually going through it.

I too went through a three year depression where only the help of drugs was I able to function. And although I haven’t used them in over 8 years, it’s as if Moros left a kind of imprint on my soul so that his shadows are still felt at times. Fortunately, there are more days of sunshine (as Stephen Fry said) than gloom at the moment. I pray that for you, too, such days will outnumber the gloomy ones.

The black dog exists everywhere, including Africa.

From time to time I also feel the ugly emptiness inside and the loneliness. I am crying so hard. It feels that I am able to cry myself to death. I have no certain reason for such a feeling. I can not explain it to anyone. I become annoying. Later it goes away.

People spend far too much time convincing everyone their lives are wonderful by only sharing the best parts, which makes Facebook difficult to look at if you’re not in a good state of mind. It’s so easy to forget that other people have struggles, too.

Last month I celebrated five years since the day I was going to end my life. It was a strange day to acknowledge, and it doesn’t mean everything’s been easy for five years, but it still seems like an achievement. I don’t tend to share because I’ve had bad reactions in the past, but I’m so happy that people do and it seems like you’re approaching things well.

Yes it certainly is genetic. I’m not sure how long I’d had depression but I tackled it two years ago, it’s a mammoth journey but great to come out the other side, although there will always be echos of it now and then. I think a lot of people in our family have it sadly.

I’ve also been through depression several times since my early 20s- family inherited also. Doesn’t happen so much now … and (you’ll probably hate this right now) it’s actually been a huge gift in my life. Easier to see that when out of it ;)

2 Comments on “Compassion driven underground”

  1. Mc

    “A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

    Albert Einstein

  2. C

    It has taken me some time to realise this, but what stigma really is. It is the fear of the un-known, it is the fear of how others may judge or perceive you or a situation. It is what fuel’s some of the most negative sides of humanity; such as hatred, selfishness and indifference to another’s suffering. It is so hard to ask for help, when confronted with this tide of blackness. Stigma almost cost my beautiful brothers life when cruel individuals, were clapping for my brother to jump. But I cannot hate them, just their ignorance. However, we have the power to change so much of humanity, by fighting for understanding, fighting for compassion and the hope to change. It is only by asking for help and helping one another, that we can make a change to ourselves and each others worlds.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *