DEPRESSION: AN INVISIBLE ILLNESS

Mental Health and Invisible Illness Resources:

 

“I HAVE A CHRONIC ILLNESS

 

DON’T BE SURPRISED IF…

 

  • I DON’T ANSWER THE PHONE OR REPLY TO MESSAGES STRAIGHT AWAY;
  • I CANCEL OUR PLANS, ESPECIALLY AT THE LAST MINUTE;
  • IT SEEMS LIKE I’M NOT LISTENING OR NOT INTERESTED (BRAIN FOG);
  • I LEAVE EARLY FROM A SOCIAL GATHERING OR PARTY;
  • I SUDDENLY NEED TO LIE DOWN OR REST.

 

I STILL LOVE BEING YOUR FRIEND, BUT SOMETIMES MY ILLNESS PREVENTS ME FROM DOING THE SAME THINGS AS BEFORE. PLEASE DON’T GIVE UP ON ME.”

 

 

This quote, by Mental Health and Invisible Illness Resources, is important, very important….

 

 

BUT

 

 

there can come a point, the sufferer can drop to a depth wherein he/she doesn’t answer the phone or reply to messages at all, doesn’t make the plans in the first place and doesn’t go to the party, full stop.

 

 

The “I still love being your friend” bit can also drift away, the sufferer loses interest in friends, loses interest in things, in everything…the sufferer kind of ‘switches off’ and stops connecting.

 

 

The “Please don’t give up on me” bit can become “I don’t care if you give up on me and, not wanting to be heartless and brutal but, quite honestly, you’ll make my life easier if you do give up on me because I don’t then even have to make an effort…”

 

 

Someone who is speaking the posted quote is either not telling it as it really is or she/he has not sunk to the depths, to the freezing cold, pitch black, lifeless depths, to which many people, tragically, do sink.

 

 

When someone is suffering from an ‘invisible’ debilitating illness, that ‘invisible’ element, characteristic, makes the suffering extra tough to bear.

 

 

I am not for one moment belittling the undoubted difficulties which are borne by blind people but, usually, it is clear and obvious to those around a blind person that the person is blind and allowances are usually given. I don’t imagine that it’s the same for deaf people who, because their burden is ‘invisible’, because they don’t usually walk with sticks, because they don’t have guide dogs, are not identifiable as deaf. We can all imagine the insults that must be spewed at deaf people by those around them who simply think that they are rude for not replying to questions or who think they are ‘dumb’ because their speech is slurred.

 

 

Another example: I, again, am not, not for one second, belittling, say, MS but sufferers, I guess once past the very earliest stages, are clearly identifiable as sufferers with a debilitating, cruel illness. Millions of people, on the other hand, suffer from ‘invisible’ cancer – not everyone with cancer LOOKS ill.

 

 

I AM NOT SAYING THAT A SUFFERER WITH ONE CRUEL ILLNESS IS MORE OR LESS WORTHY OF OUR SYMPATHY, EMPATHY, LOVE AND CARE THAN ANOTHER – IT’S THE INVISIBLE CHARACTERISTIC OF SOME ILLNESSES TO WHICH I AM REFERRING.

 

 

Depression is usually an invisible illness and, tragically, many sufferers die (I don’t, in this context, refer to suicide but, rather, I talk of sufferers as dying from their illness), many sufferers die before those around them know that they are suffering.

 

 

I commend Mental Health and Invisible Illness Resources for putting out the important message that clinical/chronic depression is often ‘invisible’ but I feel that it’s important to qualify it and, thus, this blog.

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