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The Unspeakable Truth
Posted by dirkgently1066
27th Jul 2015

Mental illness has blighted a significant proportion of my life. Depression and anxiety, whether or not I knew it at the time, robbed me of my confidence, made me feel inadequate and drove me to the brink of submission.

Looking back now, as I continue my journey on the road of recovery, there are parts of myself that are almost unrecognisable from who I was.

But I want to let you into a guilty little secret, the ‘unspeakable truth’ of this piece. Are you ready?

I didn’t want to get better.

There. Look, I’m going to say it again.

I didn’t want to get better.

What an outrageous thing to say! How could I not want to get better? Doesn’t this simply reinforce the image that those suffering from depression are good for nothing layabouts?

But it isn’t as straight forward as that. You see this reluctance to get better was all a part of the illness.

Depression reinforces all the negative thoughts you have of yourself. I felt stupid, inferior, fat and ugly. And so these things must be true. I projected these thoughts onto other people, which in turn caused me to withdraw from them. It wasn’t like they would miss the company of this stupid, inferior, fat, ugly guy anyway, right?

And so in the deep, dark corner of the mental jail I had created for myself, I was all alone. Except for depression, always there to keep me company.

After a while I became used to it, being depressed became reassuringly familiar. This was just who I was.

Even when I entered therapy, I didn’t want to believe what I was told. I was broken beyond repair, fundamentally incapable of being happy. I had to be. I needed to be.

Only I wasn’t. It took a long time but gradually I reached the point of acceptance that I was not a fixed state. I was ill and I could get better. I could change.

The path of recovery could not have been walked without the expertise and support of professional therapists. 1 in 4 people in the UK suffer from mental illness and yet still we are reluctant to talk about it.

Why? If you hurt your leg or had a problem with your liver you wouldn’t think yourself weak. You would see a doctor. Why is the mind so different? Why do we consider physical health to be more important than mental health? It doesn’t make any sense.

You are not weak, you are not broken and you are not alone. But you can get better.

The first step is to help yourself. Friends and family will support the best they can but if you want to make a full, sustainable recovery, you may need professional help. So talk to someone; the GP, a counsellor, a therapist. Understand your illness, get a proper diagnosis. We’ll still be here when you get back. Life isn’t going anywhere.

And forget those thoughts of being selfish or wallowing or that you should ‘just get on with it.’ Should someone with a broken leg stop being such a wimp and just walk it off? Of course not. The leg needs time to heal. So does the mind. It is not selfish it is self-care. In a way the selfish thing is not dealing with it, instead leaving others to pick up the pieces. Only you can set you free.

So do something amazing today, be kind to yourself.

It is time to start looking after the most important person in your life.

You.

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