Oh but you don’t look depressed…

Blimey! I must be cured then. Thank you for that incredible remedy, you really should bottle that up.

I am stressed, my anxieties are through the roof lately and my black dog is back for a visit. Crushing me with the cuddle I don’t want. Life is a little bit shitty right now, and it isn’t made any easier by people saying all those unhelpful things, like my mental illness isn’t justified because I am not moping around crying. Incidentally, I am, just not in public and not all the time.

I don’t understand where the idea that depression has a ‘look’ came from. I can’t make out what I am supposed to look like. What the hell does depression look like?

It looks like ME, you, the guy down the road and your best friends uncle. Your sisters boss or the lady working the checkout at the local Tesco. Depression doesn’t have a look.

We don’t walk around with a big shiny arrow pointing at our heads. We do laugh. We have been known to smile – even daily. We go outside, we go to work, we eat, drink, shower and do all those normal things. Most of the time. We function, we fit in and we live.

Depression is an invisible illness, you can’t look depressed. Having a sad face or teary eyes doesn’t mean depression. That person is quite possibly just feeling sad. Depression is so much more than feeling a bit sad, looking a bit down and moping about.

I feel my depression like the ocean, sometimes I am just paddling in the surf enjoying my life with my emotions swirling happily around my toes. When the tide comes in it goes one of two ways. I take a few steps back and re-evaluate the situation, keeping that little pool at bay. Other times I am stuck. Glued to the spot, helpless. The emotions, the emptiness, the anxiety, the feeling lost, incomplete, lonely, sad, overwhelmed and pretty much completely hopeless crash around me. The tears stream and pool in the water. The water that feels as though it’s rising too quickly. The ocean swells, the waves get stronger, the water heavier, tugging and thrashing around me. And then it hits me. That final big crushing wave and all of a sudden I am drowning. Invisible, struggling and fighting with all my might under the heaving flow of water that engulfs me.

 

but I don’t look depressed…

 

Walk a mile in my shoes…

Every person in life will have a different journey. Though experiences may be similar, events, friends & family may be the same, the journey will always be different.

It’s all personal, the way each of us experience the same situations and encounter various people. We’re built up and broken down at different times and in different ways. You may be able to relate to certain things other people say, or do but you will never truly know exactly how the rest of the population experiences things.

People struggle with different things, and everyone has something they are dealing with, whether you know it or not. I happen to be very open with my mental illness journey, ergo many people already kind of know what’s going on with me. However, there are days and weeks where I don’t show just how I feel, where the wall goes up and the ‘smiley, I am okay’ Emily surfaces. This isn’t because I can’t say anything, but because I don’t want to.

I have gotten quite good at my Emily act and it’s very easy for my to keep the sensitive, troubled Emily Rose hidden away to the outside world. Many people who meet me are surprised when I reveal that I suffer with mental illness. It’s almost comical to see how their faces simply can’t compute the bubbly smile with an internal hatred of self. It’s a constant draining battle to keep that façade but ultimately, it’s the way of the world. Most people ask how you are as a pleasantry, not because they’re genuinely interested in the inner workings of your brain that day.

You see, despite most people knowing that I have mental illness, I still feel the stigma and I do feel [insert a million negative emotions] for the way certain things can completely change my mood. The happiest situations can still bring on a negative emotion in my head. Which is then followed with a butterfly effect of things that begin the anxiety fuelled spiral into the darkest depths of my beautifully broken brain.

I don’t think we will ever fully understand each other, but we still need to spend the time being open with those we trust. Sharing our experiences and feelings on the different things we all experience, even day-to-day things. It’s important to talk and to listen. To have that human connection and grow strong relationships with people who can help you along in your journey. To build each other up and support each other through the good and the bad times.

Walk a mile in my shoes!?  All this gets you is a mile travelled and possible sore feet because my shoes won’t fit you properly. However, your feet will heal and at the end of it, you won’t know me any better, you won’t feel anything like I feel.  My journey is mine and it’s never going to match yours.