The news of Chester Bennington losing his fight against depression this week has been hard to take. Linkin’ Park has always been one of those many bands that got me through my teenage years of abuse and bullying and in my adult life their songs still get through to me at the toughest of times. I’m not saying I was their biggest fan, they are one of many MANY bands that were around in those tough teenage years which stick around my playlists because they mean a lot to me.
I’m sorry if this sounds heartless but after news like this there is a outpouring online of people telling us that we are not alone and sending us numbers we can phone if we ever feel like we are but once the pain of the death dies down the talk of depression and mental illness in general becomes one no one wants to have again.
If you really want us not to be alone you’d stop treating our illness like its not important.
Its hard for me to write something like this and not sound like a absolute bitch but every time someone dies either from a fight with depression or addiction we get so many people come out of the woodwork with their good advice and acting like we didn’t know that the Samaritans were a thing or that MIND are there to help. For most of us who struggle daily with these demons we’ve been there and done that but in the wider world we’re still told that if we could just be happier we wouldn’t be depressed.
Why I write these blogs is because I believe that talking about my mental illness will help in the smallest of ways. If it reaches one person who can identify with what I say and show them its OK to feel that way and someone else is struggling too and that leads them to reach out if not to me then to someone else or just feeling slightly better about their own fight then I’ve helped. Most importantly though I talk about it because it needs to be talked about. No one wants to talk about it because they are either scared to put their feelings out there or they just don’t want to know about it. Its why I respect full time mental health bloggers so much, I can only do it from time to time, I mean the diary blogs have been going on for a year or so and I’ve only just reached 17, they talk about it daily sharing with the world the most intimate part of their life.
At this point though its about time we did start talking about it.
There are great places out in the world that try and help but each individual is different. I wrote a post on Facebook about a month ago when I got home after a long shift and had a nose bleed. It ended with something like “I’m done” which I meant I’m done for the night because even though I’d got home quite late I still tend to play a game or watch something until about 3am then go bed. Someone reported the post to Facebook as they were concerned about me. They didn’t message me and ask if I was OK, they didn’t react to the post in any way at all. They reported me so that I got a rather lovely yet inappropriate message from Facebook trying to force me to phone the Samaritans. It stopped me from accessing Facebook on my phone app and made me feel completely embarrassed when I figured out what had happened.
Now I am probably meant to be grateful that someone out there cared enough to flag that up.
I’d rather someone had personally messaged me. My status was private so only one of the 130 people on my friends list should have seen it. Whilst I don’t include all 130 people as friends, some are local wrestlers others are just random people who I’m connected to for random reasons, if they cared enough about me then why didn’t they contact me privately? If they are one of the few that don’t know me then they might not realise if I meant it in a suicidal way they would have made things worse for me. That would be because someone in those 130 people (it wasn’t actually 130 at the time I’ve added hell of a lot of my work colleagues since then) just didn’t want to personally engage with someone they thought might have a problem.
I can’t phone people. I have a phobia, yes laugh all the hell you want about a grown up who is scared of things you don’t understand, of phoning people. I’ve spoken at length about my communication problems so very understandably my problem speaking is even worse when I’m phoning someone. I can’t just phone someone to talk to them about my problems. If I had been that low down and gotten that message I would have reacted in a completely negative way because what it actually told me was that the only way to save myself was by doing something I couldn’t do because 1 person who seemingly cared enough to report me to Facebook didn’t care enough just to send a message saying “You OK mate?”
The main problem with talking about it is that people confuse a moment of depression brought on by loss or having a bad time with something like being Bipolar. I once had a conversation with someone who told me their best friend had been severely depressed after their partner had died but looked to God and in time the wound healed and they weren’t depressed anymore so maybe I should just wait until my wound had healed and I’d be OK again. The guy is a sweetheart so I didn’t have the heart to point out there was never any wound to begin with, my behaviour has been the same since I was little, before any of the abuse or bullying started, I’ve always been introverted which isolated me at school and has continued to isolate me as a adult which is not the cause of my Bipolar in any way shape or form. There is no reason needed to be that way, in fact the majority of my family suffer from it. My sadness doesn’t even need a reason, when I’m on a downer most of the time I convince myself its because of something but it never really, truly is. I just obsesses over that to give myself something to cling onto and feel normal. The truth is sometimes I just wake up and don’t like myself and feel like I don’t belong in this world with other people who can talk to each other and have relationships and live normal lives. That isn’t a wound I can heal. That isn’t something I can change.
So if you haven’t felt that you don’t really know what to say to someone and the longer you try and talk to people about your depression the more you realise there isn’t much point because even the nicest of people can only take so much before they just give up.
I’ve been very open with the fact that getting my job saved my life, when I wrote Diary #8 last November I was unfortunately at that point in my life where I was fighting to stay alive. I was at my absolute lowest and if I hadn’t gotten this job I am pretty sure I wouldn’t be alive right now. If the pain I was feeling from the experience with the Job Centre hadn’t been enough then losing Pete a few weeks ago would have been enough.
You know what?
After writing that blog on the Sunday I went to a wrestling show after my job interview and someone DID reach out and talk to me. That person being John Harding, I’ll name him because it meant a lot to me, and he didn’t fill me with bullshit about it maybe getting better or anything like that. He didn’t tell me that I hide it well or some shit. He told me that its always going to be hard but I just have to keep fighting, he nailed home what I had learnt that day that things might seem terrible but they don’t last forever.
One week of my life nearly killed me but I came out with a better job then I had and a new outlook on life. Many people who know me have seen such a change since starting my new job because I am happier and my depression hasn’t kicked my ass quite as much as it used to. I’m working so hard on doing things others find so simple like just talking to other people or joining in conversations. Hell I went bowling with work the other week, anyone who knows me knows that I have trouble leaving the house but I actually got a taxi to bowling, spent most of the night out then called my own taxi to get home. That was like the biggest achievement in the world for me. People won’t understand that because its just normal behaviour but for me it meant the world. I’ve never had friends so have never really gotten used to having to go out and do things. At 28 that was a new experience for me, whilst I enjoyed it I doubt I’ll be doing it again anytime soon, but it was a positive step in a direction my life kind of needs to go.
I feel a lot of that is down to the fact the people I work with now engage with me on a personal level. Whilst there was one or two people in my old job that did as well, don’t think I didn’t love a few of my old work mates, I’ve been made to feel included completely in a normal social way at work in this job in a way I never really felt in my old one. Much more then in my old job I feel like people accept me for the broken idiot I am in my new job and it makes me feel safer being myself. Whilst I still have a few problems I need to iron out the fact that people have engaged with me in that way has made me more level then I’ve ever been.
Sure I still have my off days/weeks but they are further apart then ever before.
What I’m actually trying to get at, because I’m rambling again as always, is that actually engaging with someone is important. I’m not looking at celebrities and personalities online, of course they are going to share these hotlines and the same to help their followers if they need it, but if you are the kind of person who would rather report a post on Facebook that you know only that persons friends can see instead of saying “you OK?” maybe rethink. You might not know that person very well and even if they reply “Yeah I’m OK” and you don’t believe them actually trust them a little because that message probably meant more then you’d imagine. More so then Facebook blocking your page until you tell them 100 times you are OK and not about to hurt yourself.
Sometimes people don’t think when they write things on Facebook, sometimes they write colloquially and forget that they had well known mental problems and might worry others.
Sometimes those messages are a cry for help and if you are one of a small amount of people they’ve cried too and you’ve noticed it just simply making them aware that you noticed is all they need.
In general though mental health is something that needs to be talked about. If you don’t talk about it then you’ll never personally understand it and whilst you might not need to understand it you never know who you are going to meet in your life, what their problem is going to be and how much you’ll miss them if they leave your life and you never got to understand the demons they carried on their shoulders.
For me my battle with my depression and anxiety is daily. Its a daily struggle against self loathing, self harm and suicidal thoughts. Its constant pain the likes that some will never understand. Its a fight from the moment I wake up in my own head against myself. Again I’ve written in other posts about how it isn’t just a mental pain, my breathing is always irregular because the moment I leave my house I’m highly anxious which leads to severe chest pains all the time. Its just a horrible fight I have to go through to do something as simple as go to work or go buy lunch at the local Co-op. People take that for granted whilst just waking up in the morning is the first win of a day full of hating myself and feeling like I don’t belong. Mentally its tiring but I fight like everyone else who fights this battle because we all hope that it’ll just get a little better.
Since November my life has become a lot better, this time last year I was in constant tears when alone and rejected all people around me. Now I’m usually smiling to myself from the moment I get up to the moment I go to bed.
Most importantly the thing that has gotten me to this comfortable position is because I’ve found people who want to talk. My depression is no longer my dirty little secret, it neither is something that defines me. Its a battle that I don’t have to fight completely on my own anymore because there are people in my life now that actually care when I say “No, no I’m not OK.”
So lets try talking about it a little more yeah?
BUT BEFORE I GO!
Just before I get a lot of posts asking if I’m OK I am fine. I do battle every day with my depression because it won’t go away, its not something that’s ever going to leave me and if I haven’t made it clear that right now I’m in a good place then I just want to reiterate I am in a good place right now even though the pain never really leaves. In re-drafting the post I realised a few times I was giving out mixed signals over that but I truly am in a great place at the moment. Specially at this moment right now. I’m more positive then I’ve ever been so don’t worry about me.
If you do need someone to talk to I’m always around on Twitter available to talk to anyone. Just slip into my DMs anytime or send me a message through our Facebook page. As you can tell from my rambles I love talking about everything so even if you just want someone to chat to because you feel lonely and start a conversation about something really random I’ll join in! PLEASE don’t feel like you are alone because you aren’t and whilst Social Media can be a bitch at times it can also be a great place to find like minded people who might be a million miles apart but can feel like they are right there next to you. If you ever do feel alone please just search through the mental health blogs on WordPress or find some of the small communities on Tumblr and Twitter, I know it can be hard to start that conversation, its the same with me and phones, but even just reaching out in the smallest of ways will help.