It recently dawned on me that I’m part of an exclusive club. I don’t wear a badge or carry a membership card. But it requires a certain feature to be a member. Not many of my friends or family know of my membership, and I would rather it stayed that way (I’m not a Mason either, before you jump to conclusions). Although, when I say it’s exclusive – it isn’t really, because it transpires that there actually millions of us.
This exclusive club is depression.
Let me try and make this a little clearer. I learnt to drive when I was 17 and at 45 I’ve never been without a car. I’ve had some fantastic cars, and some real shockers. But I’ve always had a car of some sort.
Since having a driving licence I have always adored ‘Bentley’s’. They are such beautiful cars. The curves are such that I want to run my hands over them. The interior is such that I would happily sit inside for hours on end. And as for the engine, the roar is like an untamed beast insisting on liberation. What is there not to like about such a thing? But, if I had all the money in the world I would never buy one. Why? One may ask. Well the answer is simple. I wouldn’t want the attention. It would fill me with horror to think that people are looking at me.
So, I’m happy with my VW Golf. It does what I want (except the boot is too small). It gets me from A to B and no one gives me a second look when I drive into town. It can absorb itself into its surroundings and can be easily forgotten by people who see it. It just doesn’t shout out “look at me”.
So, what has this to do with depression?
This is complicated to answer but I hope that you, the reader, will be able to understand.
I am proud to have survived this illness although I have had it all my life. Yet I would rather the people who knew me didn’t know about it. I don’t want to be judged I want them to know me for the persona I am allowing them to see. I am happy to disappear in a crowd.
But this is an exclusive club to be in because some of the nicest people I have ever known have depression. And we are quiet about it. Perhaps because we don’t want to draw attention to something we have been made to feel ashamed about. We don’t want people pointing and judging.
Since setting up this website I have often taken steps to see how other people with depression get through life. I have found many depressive types. For ease, I have broken them down into three different categories;
- People who think they have depression – but don’t. These are tragic types. They shout from the highest peaks telling everyone how much they deserve attention and how life has been ‘so hard’ for them. These types get over depression as soon as they become occupied – or get the attention they think they deserve.
- People who know they have depression and are willing to talk about it only if they feel they have too. They cope with life on a secret basis based on techniques they have developed but don’t have the energy anymore to hide it as well as they used to.
- People who have depression and take measures to hide it. They struggle with the suffocating pain but don’t wish to make a fuss in-case it creates greater problems. They have created a persona that fits with how they think they should be seen. These depressives are tired but still holding on.
For this blog I want to completely dismiss type 1 depressive. They give depression a bad name and only suffer with their own vanity.
What I have discovered about people with depression.
Some of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting suffer with depression. Recently, I have been able to identify those types who try to hide it. When you are one it takes one to know one. But there are features I want us all to recognise.
People with depression can identify someone’s pain from a distance. What is worth knowing is that they can feel the pain others are experiencing. Even if it isn’t depression. Depressives don’t want to feel pain and as such feel the agony in others, yet know there is little they can do about it.
I can think of people I know with depression and I have spoken to a couple of them. The relief on their face when I share my feelings and thoughts is immeasurable. They are relieved that someone understands. Yet I have only ever told them privately. It’s just easier that way for everyone involved.
What surprises me is that many of these people had no idea I was a sufferer. Well, that’s simple, I perfected the art of hiding it but I found I had sympathy for those of whom had not mastered the art of camouflage.
A depressive will always understand a true sufferer and will have sympathy for how they are.
Do not judge
Many depressives have had a lifetime of judgements and so do not want to judge others. I for one, do not wish to be seen as judgmental. We have all reached this point in our lives based on actions we have experienced. Who are we to judge others when we feel so little about ourselves?
A depressive will always love you for who you really are, not how you want to be seen. I adore all of my friends but especially love my depressive friends because they are genuine and will do anything to protect others within their circle. That takes a special kind of person of which non-depressives can appreciate.
Ability to listen
From my own experiences, I have found that when talking to a depressive you don’t have to say much. Listening is an art. Depressives don’t want sound bites and certainly not sympathy. They just want to say things and not for you to hear but to listen – and of course know they are not going to be judged.
Throughout my time with depression I have found that everyone thinks they are an expert and are keen to offer their advice (which is often wrong). I don’t need advice, I had a life time of that. We just want someone to listen and offer an alternative view – which is not advice. We just want to know you are there. Demands are not being made on anyone and there is no duress to make you stay. They just want to either listen or to be listened too.
I have found that meeting other people with depression come from a range of backgrounds. Their journey to realisation has come from many sources and causes. As such people with depression are for more considerate of others than any other section of society. Our experiences are far and wide.
I know that people find different ways of dealing with their suffering. As a result, I would never make direct suggestions to them as that would be inconsiderate. What works for me works for me. Therefore, I appreciate other people systems they have in place. If it works then well done them.
A depressive will never intentionally hurt anyone. I know I have hurt people and this has become a heavy burden of which I carry. I have said “sorry” so many times and undoubtedly will continue to do so. Equally, I am always happy to welcome back into my arms those of whom hurt me – although I may remain cautious.
I consider depressives as (generally) to be friendly. I know I try and appreciate the best in everyone. Equally, I try and offer the best I can to anyone. Is this a friendly characteristic? I hope so.
But when I think of people I know with depression they will always stop to say “hello” and ask how I am. Even though I will always tell them that I am “ok”.
We say we are “ok” because we don’t want to be a burden to others when we know they may have problems of their own. Yes this is being friendly, but it also overlaps into consideration.
This is something people with depression very rarely recognise. If you have followed my blogs I have openly talked about ending it in the past. Having survived these periods, I can now call myself (today) a survivor. As previously stated, when I made my mind up to go I was ready to end it. It was only circumstances or coincidences that stopped me.
It takes a strong personality to stop doing something that you have drive and conviction to do. So, any survivors out there I personally congratulate you. We have all made it this far and this is something people without depression will never be able to appreciate.
Surviving in a hostile world is a daily struggle and getting through each day is far more than a simple achievement. It’s an accomplishment.
When writing this…
I have sat for about a week or so prior to writing this. I have tried to get a grip on who I am aiming it at. Am I aiming it at the depressive, the non-depressive or those of whom know a depressive?
Well, on reflection, it doesn’t matter. From the depressive point of view, I want to congratulate you for being a survivor and being the good person that you are. It is we who are in the exclusive club of which we don’t want people to know about.
But I am proud of my association with other depressives and my illness. I think it has made me into a good, caring man. And my associates are just lovely people – it’s just that you don’t know it yet. Or, perhaps like myself, I refuse to accept it.
For those of whom care for a depressive I want you to recognise these qualities that your loved one has. Let them know it. If needs be get them to read this blog. We know we can’t be easy to live with and we know that. But I feel a depressive has a lot to offer you. Its just that you need to be patient with us.
I will end as I began. Depression is an exclusive club. Only kind, considerate and loveable members can join. It just that we don’t see it in ourselves. Oh yes, it so happens we also have depression.