Depression isn’t something you can snap out of

Posted on August 18, 2014

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The much-loved actor and comedian Robin Williams passed away last week amidst an outpouring of grief from fans around the world. The cause of his death was from an apparent suicide and it emerged that Williams had been battling depression for a number of years.

It’s easy to eulogize and express sorrow over someone as famous as he, but it’s easier to forget that there are also those suffering in silence. Of course, it goes without saying that with each individual case, people have varying degrees in their emotional state and well-being for reasons and causes beyond their control such as bereavements, a feeling of spiritual emptiness, unrequited love, breakup of marriages and relationships.

On a personal level, it’s not like I have a different opinion to everyone else on this matter – I just happen to face a perfect storm of having a different cognitive behavioral pattern to most, which would otherwise mean a very different outlook on how I view the world, therefore making me susceptible to depression. This is caused from a high-functioning type of autism known as Asperger’s Syndrome. Not to suggest that it’s a trigger point for falling into feeling down, but perhaps a vulnerability owing to low self-esteem and a sense that my own life was being put on hold with nothing to look forward to. The grass is always greener et cetera.

I don’t want to crow on when I was at my lowest ebb at the ages of so and so, because this would defeat the point I want to make about this piece. The reason I chose to scribe this is that there’s a way out for anyone out there who feels alone. Though I will say this: I once received an email from a high-profile Grammy/Brit award winner who I won’t name, but he said something along the lines of “You’re not alone dude, ever. The truth is, the world is full of trials and tribulations – it’s up to you how you handle each test with equal servitude.” That is etched in my memory bank for as long as I live.

And he was right – life IS full of tests and hardship. Life IS full of servitude. So it’s important to treat any small victories and successes as though they were huge because they seldom appear.

But a more salient point he made was I wasn’t alone. Ever. Though the feeling of wallowing and being ambivalent, disinterested and detached from the world can make one feel anything but. The thing about depression is, it can drain all emotional feeling, remaining a hollow indifference, questioning life itself.

What makes matters worse is telling someone suffering from depression to say it’s a passing phase and to snap out of it. If it was that easy don’t you think they’d flick the emotional switch within a second? It’s grossly insensitive and offensive in equal measure. There’s no methodical, cut and thrust way to get rid of feeling blue, but everyone has their own light at the end of a tunnel. You don’t have to row through a stormy sea on your own. And in truth, I often slip into a downward spiral of feelings filled with worthlessness and discontent.

To those of you reading this that are suffering in silence, talk to someone you can trust unconditionally with anything. It can be members of your family (though I can understand if your parents or those closest to you don’t get what’s up), councilors, a close friend or your significant other. If you want to even message me below in the comments or get in touch by email (my address is on the contact page). I’ll never shun anyone away from those in their hour of need because I’ve been in that dark, lonely place myself. It’s not something I would wish on anyone.

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