Take a moment and read, please.

Below is an incredibly powerful and moving article written by my friend Caz about depression. I have been trying to write about this topic ever since I started my blog but have always fallen short. Whenever I get to the end of the piece and read my writing back it always reads hollow. I find it hard to write about because when you are so close to something it is hard to look at it as a whole and write about the entirety of it; the shading and light. Depression is something that cannot be shown, but words can offer you a glimpse into the darkness that those who suffer must carry.

Caz’s piece is brave, open and heartwarming and while I have only posted the start I encourage you all to take a quiet moment this weekend and really read what Caz has written. Thank you.

I used to have a woman in my wardrobe

(and other ways to cope with chronic depression)

By Caz Brett

268480_10152380232630643_1840689857_nWhen I was thirteen, I had a list of about twenty one-line ‘daily reminders’ carefully handwritten on a piece of A3 paper and pinned inside my wardrobe.

Alongside these one-line sentences was a picture of a smiling woman wearing some terrible sludge-green outfit, accompanied by a somewhat extravagant hat on her head. From her gurning unopened mouth, erupted a huge speech bubble, in which I’d written these twenty sentences, carefully numbered from one to twenty.

These daily reminders were a weirdly important part of my life. I’d see them every time I opened my wardrobe, a secret kind of ritual I had in the morning before I had to head off to school. I would chose a sentence at random, close my eyes, and repeat it a few times. Then I’d be ready to face whatever hell could throw at me.

I suffer from chronic depression. I make this no secret; one in four people in the UK will suffer from a mental health problem each year — and that’s an overwhelmingly large amount of people like me. In rush hour, just think about the number of people you walk past or sit next to, and imagine how many of them are suffering in silence.

Let me tell you a bit about my depression. Mental health is tricky to understand if you haven’t been through it, and lots of people who are lucky enough to have escaped its claws are kind to me and try to understand it a bit better.

The one thing it might help to know is that it isn’t a case of me needing to ‘smile more’ (I hear that a lot). Neither is it the case that I’m ‘just having a bad day’. Some days are worse than others, but at any given moment I am coping with this niggling feeling inside that I am worth nothing, terrible at what I do, and do not deserve to be where I am.

And that is an awful thing to say to myself really, when I have worked extraordinarily hard to get to where I am, both in my every day life and my career.

Every day I wonder whether people might be happier if I’m just not around them. Anyone who has met me will know that I can be a bit socially awkward. Normally the awkwardness actually comes from the irrational feeling that I’m just not welcome, and I do that to myself. I didn’t just wake up one morning and decide I was going to channel Alan Partridge — it’s more that depression makes me think that I don’t deserve to be your friend. To be anyone’s friend.

I’m not asking for sympathy. This is just how I feel. Every day.

To read the rest of this wonderful piece please click here
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13 thoughts on “Take a moment and read, please.

  1. renxkyoko says:

    I read her article. But it sounded normal . In fact, it felt like something I would do.. I’m socially awkward, and sometimes I feel I’m not welcome ( because I’m a minority in the US, and immigrant ) and I do have lists of what to do. The difference is that I don’t dwell on my weaknesses…. I take things easy. But then, I don’t understand chronic depression.

  2. kathryningrid says:

    Clinical or chronic depression is, as Caz wisely notes, both invisible and quite different from sadness. Sadness passes, whether quickly or slowly; depression (without serious intervention of some sort) doesn’t. And clinically depressed people, with “help” from so many well-meaning people who say to just smile more, think positive thoughts, and other things that are useless if not impossible, learn to mask their depression as a defense mechanism. It’s exhausting, counterintuitive, and highly counterproductive, because that just makes the depression all the more invisible and hard for healthy people to imagine—a truly vicious cycle.

    Nobody means to be ignorant or cruel about it; it’s just hard to imagine if you haven’t Been There, Done That. I have, and am one of the lucky people able to be successfully treated, so I know that weird, surreal in-between world pretty well. It’s great that Caz and others like her speak up and help others get a glimpse into what is a surprisingly common problem, so that perhaps other sufferers learn that they can seek help, that they’re not alone, and that there are all sorts of “normal” in this world that don’t fit the averages.

    Thanks for re-posting!
    Kathryn

    • James Dunn -- Coffee and Countries says:

      I really agree that unless you have been through it words will always fail you and even if you have been through it and got out the other side even then it can be so so hard to offer those still under its dark shadow a ray of hope. I am a strong believer that reading people’s stories such as Caz’s makes you not feel so alone, if only for a minute or an hour.

  3. restlessjo says:

    James- could you pass my good wishes to Caz please. I read her post with interest and sympathy but did not want to comment in case it appeared in Facebook. My reasons for that- I have a bipolar son-in-law and a daughter who is struggling to cope with his illness. I would not want to cause additional distress if my comment was visible.

    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • James Dunn -- Coffee and Countries says:

      I will, thank you. I have had a lot of friends send me emails with similar stories to yours, the thing that is great about blogging and the internet in general is knowing that we are never alone. There will always be someone out there in the same boat as you and if they are further down your story then just by reading their words you can find comfort knowing that the future doesn’t have to be so bleak.

  4. Carl D'Agostino says:

    I know. It can be absolutely crushing some days. I force myself not to let it immobilize me completely which validates the effort as I repeat the stubbornness. But I do allow myself some complete “crash” days sometimes. Sometimes beside the emotion and moods it feels like there are hands inside my skull squeezing my brain and other days tears fall for no reason. I do take meds and they help in that the lows are not so dramatic and also less frequent but the monster still rules now and then. I know what I feel is not real and it will pass. That gives confidence that all is not lost.

    • James Dunn -- Coffee and Countries says:

      Thank you for commenting Carl. Crash days is a good way of putting it, when nothing can pick you up and even questioning why you feel like this does nothing but make it worse. All I know is that as you carry the burden longer you begin to understand it, how it should be carried with you from day to day.

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