An excerpt from a message I sent someone yesterday, a message in which I tried to convey some of the dynamics of a depression ‘episode’:
“…mental illness, depression et al, it is so destructive and, tragically, still so misunderstood. One of the big problems with depression is that although it manifests in many ways, although the symptoms are many and various, one of the common traits, one of the common threads linking people with depression is a sense of loneliness, a sense of being alone, distant, disconnected: being surrounded by the love of family and friends, being offered support, it can make no difference to the feelings of disconnection.
Another problem is the ‘irrational thinking’ element. There are, certainly for me, two main ‘drops’:
1) a drop which doesn’t strip away our ability to think rationally, to understand what’s happening. When this happens, I can appreciate what’s happening, why it’s ‘dark’, why I feel depressed, I can identify it, I can rationalise it, I know that it’s not ‘real’, that it’s the illness;
2) a lower drop which does strip away the ability to think clearly and rationally. At these times, we can’t appreciate that it’s the illness which is causing the dark thoughts, we can no longer look at our depressed self from the outside, the clear-thinking us merges with, or rather, is consumed by, the ill us and that is when it becomes dangerous. That is when we become disconnected from reality, when we ‘drift off’, when we can’t see reality, when we can’t digest what we’re hearing, when, in essence, it goes in one ear and out the other. That’s when we “don’t see the point any more”, when we genuinely believe that we have no value, that, worse, we see ourselves as a hindrance, when we can start to think that our loved ones would be better off without us, when we just want to ‘go to sleep’. We can feel that our loved ones would be upset, in the short term, if we ‘left’ but that, in time, they’d live better lives without us, that they’d be free. At these times, it can be impossible to get through to the person with depression. Whatever the issue, depression or a religious, cultural, political matter, when someone is thinking and acting irrationally, you might as well be talking to a brick wall.
We must all raise awareness, try to get people to understand the seriousness of the problem, how widespread it is and, so importantly, WHAT it is so that family, loved ones, friends, work colleagues, employers, teachers can better identify it, can spot the warning signs (when there are warning signs), so that it is taken as seriously as it needs to be taken.”