"We cannot hate ourselves into versions of ourselves we can love".
What a quote that is. It truly resonates with me as I realise this is something I've been doing most of my life.
I cannot recall how or when my mental health issues began, only that I can't really remember a time that the black dog wasn't following me in the sinister creeping way that it does. I didn't suffer childhood trauma (although I was bullied at school); I have a very loving family, a wonderful and supportive partner and great friends. To all intents and purposes, I should be a very happy and contented individual. But that is not how depression works, it's isn't how mental health conditions work. Depression doesn't discriminate. It doesn't care if you're young, old, black, white, straight, gay, bi, trans or anything in between. It is a sucking void, a black cloud, a parasite.
Society is all too quick to use the terms 'depression', 'anxiety', 'OCD' and 'bipolar' in such flippant ways. I hear people saying "oh my god, I'm so stressed and anxious" or "ugh, I'm so depressed", or "I'm totally OCD about xyz" or even "she's, like, totally bipolar" when its clear that they might just be feeling a little overwhelmed or a bit down, like things a certain way, or, for want of a better word, a bit eccentric. I'm not saying these feelings aren't valid, but what I am saying is that using those terms is both disrespectful and irresponsible. Overuse of these terms begins to render them meaningless.
You might be thinking to yourself, "what does this girl know?" Well, I'll tell you, this girl does know. This girl knows the crushing weight of depression and the overwhelming feeling of constant worry that something horrendous is about to happen; that churning feeling in your stomach and the dropping of your heart to the floor every few seconds. But you'll see me walking down the street and have no idea that I used to be heavily medicated for my mental health, had 6 weeks off work due to a minor breakdown, and have contemplated suicide more often than would be considered 'normal' (and don't even get me started on the term 'normal'!).
I'm not writing this for your sympathy; I don't need you to say "oh poor girl with her clinical depression, generalised anxiety disorder and panic disorder"; I don't need to hear you say "oh I would never have pegged you as someone who had depression" and I definitely don't need to hear you say "can't you just cheer up?". I'm writing this to give you an education and to ask you to be kind. Be respectful of the language you use each day and be respectful of other people. You don't know what a person you see on the street might be going through, so a smile or just a random act of kindness can be the most welcome thing (to anyone, not just someone who might be suffering at that moment). And above all, be kind to all of those people who are currently trying to hate themselves into a version of themselves they can love.
Please show your support for World Mental Health day by sharing this post and by choosing kindness even if it's just for this one day.
Stay Hep, Cats