Our Mental Health
I spent a huge part of my youth and early to mid-twenties living in the dark abyss of depression. It clung to me as I clung to it as though it was a shadow that I couldn’t disconnect from.
I felt like I was in a dark hole at the bottom of a pit, but I could always see the daylight; it taunted me and dangled freedom in my face. But, the pit was warm and comfortable which kept me in a perpetual state of ‘should I stay should I go’. It was the loneliest time of my life, and yet I was never alone because if some one had only shed some light in that pit I would have seen that there were so many others down there with me.
In the darkness where escape seems almost impossible, life’s toughest questions present themselves.
Purpose, usefulness, mortality, you know the trees are green and the sky is blue but all you see is a pallet of grey.
It wasn’t a dark monster from below that kept me in that pit, or that lack of money in my account, or the lack of understanding friends, or my work place expecting too much; what kept me there… was me.
I fed the unforgiving, the negative, the ego, materialistic, and starved my self-worth, my confidence, my compassion and my ability to forgive.
Now don’t get me wrong depression/mental illness is very real and takes more than a few rosy thoughts. The chemical interactions that take place in the brain during depression can not be turned solely around by a ‘can do attitude’ But the first step to any recovery is understanding the importance of our mental well-being.
I am thankful that mental illness is talked about and addressed so openly these days. I felt ashamed I felt I was less valuable than everybody else and for the first few years of seeking help I was made to feel that way as well. I didn’t want to take tablets or be told to go home and rest. I wanted to reconnect with the world. I wanted to reconnect with my emotions, good and bad just to feel something.
I’m now at the top of the pit looking down into it. Sometimes I slip and have to stop myself from falling back in. I feel it is important to look back down every now and then, it was a tough climb out and an important journey.
But why wasn’t there anybody at the top of the pit before I fell in, somebody who emphasized that each person’s level of well-being is important not just to ‘self’ but to all those around us?
I ask the question but I know the answer… We are encouraged to be unkind.
I know that is quite a bold statement so please let me explain.
Our moods and attitudes affect us on a cellular level, we radiate and shine when we are around others who resonate positive energy and kindness, but we quickly become drained around those who are struggling and who are lost.
It becomes very difficult to remain positive when you are in the company of someone who is deeply unhappy, I think also that we are all empathic beings and the taste of someone else’s sadness is not a flavor we want to keep consuming.
This is the chink in our armor.
If you sit opposite someone who is talking about something that perhaps you don’t want to hear, we tend to listen out of politeness, and although we’re not interested we still advise in the best way we can. The more we listen, the more compassion we feel and the more we open up for a two-way conversation
But, if you don’t like someones social media status, then it can be ignored with no level of guilt attached. That is until you read that an old friend has committed suicide and when you really examine all the posts that they wrote in the months prior to their death, you realise that all the signs were there. There was a subtle cry for help that everyone ignored.
They hid their pain behind humor and creativity
Why did they hide?
Because we are taught to believe that anything less than perfection is not acceptable, We are taught to believe that crying is a flaw, that talking about our deepest fears makes us weak, if we are not achieving we are worthless.
How can we know our strength if we have no weakness to compare it to, how can we grow?
When something sad happens we can observe how the pain makes the body feel, it then becomes what is known as a beautiful sadness. To feel and recognise that you haven’t always felt this way; to know that you feel it because you know what happiness is and because you are alive. If I can feel so much sadness reassures me that I am capable of feeling just as much love.
And then we have anger…
To recognise anger as it happens, to register its escalation and then to let it go, to free yourself from its restraints is an ability of enlightenment.
And if one can remain nonjudgemental and find forgiveness, if we can learn from this to love unconditionally…
Well… to let the heart breath, is simply… divine
The bottom line – Depression is a two way thing
Well three way actually,
We have to recognised and help those who need us, we have to ask for help when we need it and we have to help ourselves.
One of the hardest lessons I’ve learnt…
YOU ARE NEVER ALONE.