Archive for August, 2014

It’s okay to not be okay.

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Mental health matters.

We have been reminded of this again this week. I have wanted to write something about this again for a few weeks because of lots of things happening to people I love, or used to teach, or laughed at on the TV. And with the death of Robin Williams and five minutes of spare time this is what I want to say.

We all struggle. Sometimes its big, horrible, traumatic events. Sometimes it is the day to day. Sometimes we don’t even know why. It doesn’t matter what is making us feel completely void and useless and overwhelmed. It matters what we do about it.

I have had the black dog of depression hover over my head. He stood next me as I tried to teach in my second year out of Uni. He sat on me as I tried to get out of my bed and make sense of what was happening around me. He terrified me into acting, into doing something, talking to someone, trying to make it stop.

I was lucky. I got out before it got me. That was one occasion and there have been many, many others.

Depression, if you are one of the lucky one that have never felt it breathing down your neck, is different for everyone.

Some days you feel like you are swimming in thick, black toxic ink. Not swimming even, just barely keeping your head above the surface of that squalid ooze as it drags you slowly down, underneath, like quicksand. It is a thick haze of dark fog, blinding you, disorienting you, making the most basic of actions impossible. You can’t eat, think, plan, organise, let alone communicate, be any type of friend or partner or try and find a way out.

But you have to. You have to fight it. You have to not accept this is how it will be for you. You need to summon every tiny bit of lingering hope or optimism or belief and reach out. You have to tell someone.

And you have to hope to God you tell the right person.

One time I didn’t and it was almost catastrophic. But there is hope now. We, the ones living outside the cloud, have no excuses. We might be busy, distracted, hurting, far away, but when someone reaches out, even if it is only with a fingernail, we grab on to that call for help and we don’t let go. We Never Let Go.

Depression is annoying for people who don’t have it. Sometimes it makes us angry, drift away, ignore, unsure what to do. But surely the more we talk about it, the more we know about it, the more we realise even the brightest, funniest people can be trapped by it too, the more chance we have to help. They will sink faster than you know into that quicksand if we don’t give them something stable to hang on to. Even if it is just long enough to get some experts to help.

Support the decision to medicate if that’s what it takes. Depression can kill. If we had a heart problem that was life-threatening would we hesitate to take the meds required to keep us safe? I doubt it. Do what it takes, whatever it takes.

Tell that black dog to piss off and then tell someone else exactly how you feel. It is up to us to hear their cry for help.

robin williams




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