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
When 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.