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Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Raise Awareness for Depression | What Do We Know?

Talking about depression and how we can raise awareness for it. What do we know about depression? How can we do more to help?
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And what do we know of depression?

Very little.

Today we lost a man, a true genius - Robin Williams. It makes me sad that it's taken this tragic loss to spark the idea that I speak about depression on my blog. It makes me sad that amongst the wonderful memories of him being shared online, there are bouts of misunderstood, confused individuals, claiming selfishness played a part in his departure. It makes me sad that we aren't educated, as a society, to cope with the sheer volume of individuals battling depression. It makes me sad that such a travesty must occur to raise awareness for an illness as severe as depression. It makes me sad, that not many see depression as an illness.

Depression has a face

That usually represents a smile. Because when one smiles on the outside, it seldom means their feelings are replicated on the inside - quite the contrary actually. Statistically 1 in 4 of us will suffer with a mental illness at some point in our lives. When you think about a physical illness, such as Cancer, with statistics of 1 in 3, they're pretty similar in severity - so why aren't we taking it more seriously?

If someone is ill...with something you can look at, objectify, we don't necessarily have to have experienced that illness to understand it. We can sympathise, we offer ourselves unwittingly to be of service in any way we can, to help soften the blow, ease the pain. So why aren't we doing the same for depression?

It's difficult to look at someone, like Robin, who on the outside is everything you wish you could be. Effortlessly hilarious, successful - but what we need to recognise is that there doesn't have to be something bad going on in your life to suffer with depression. Sentences like 'but their life is so perfect, they seem so happy, I just don't understand' really get my goat. Guess what, they don't get it either.

We don't have to understand. In fact, we can't, just like you can't really understand Cancer unless you've had it. But what we can do is try to support and recognise.

Depression is loneliness 

Now I don't claim to be an expert, but if one thing is clear to me it's that it stems from an empty feeling, that can't be explained. The lack of support, the unknown, the negative stigma surrounding it, all these factors make someone suffering afraid to speak out.

Why should we put ourselves on the line? To essentially be told: SWIM, GOD DAMMIT, when clearly we are drowning? [tweet this].

Because realistically, that's the awful opinion many of us have. 'You can do it, you just have to believe in yourself', I'm afraid is not the answer and 9/10 will just push that person further away.

We raise money for Cancer by running races, coppin' a feel, baking a cake, because well that's what you do isn't it? When did you last think about raising money for MIND? Point and case.

My beautiful friend, Laura, posted this snippet from one of Robin's best:

"Mork & Mindy: In Mork We Trust (#1.21)" (1979)
Orson: The report, Mork.
Mork: This week I discovered a terrible disease called loneliness.
Orson: Do many people on Earth suffer from this disease?
Mork: Oh yes sir, and how they suffer. One man I know suffers so much he has to take a medication called bourbon, even that doesn't help very much because then he can hear paint dry.
Orson: Does bed rest help?
Mork: No because I've heard that sleeping alone is part of the problem. You see, Orson, loneliness is a disease of the spirit. People who have it think that no one cares about them.
Orson: Do you have any idea why?
Mork: Yes sir you can count on me. You see, when children are young, they're told not to talk to strangers. When they go to school, they're told not to talk to the person next to them. Finally when they're very old, they're told not to talk to themselves, who's left?
Orson: Are you saying Earthlings make each other lonely?
Mork: No sir I'm saying just the opposite. They make themselves lonely, they're so busy looking out for number one that there's not enough room for two.
Orson: It's too bad everybody down there can't get together and find a cure.
Mork: Here's the paradox sir because if they did get together, they wouldn't need one.

It struck a chord, it made me cry, because even when saying the words out loud, no-one is listening. So please, if we do one thing today, let's speak out about depression, let ourselves be vulnerable if we suffer, let ourselves be strong for others if we don't.

Together we can combat this awful illness, together we can make the world a less lonely place. Together we can ease the pain.

For Robin, words can't explain the joy you brought to so many lives. A hero, in every sense of the word. xxx


loulabeth ♡ said...

Lovely post Megs, there definitely needs to be more awareness raised regarding depression so well done for writing this! I'm so sad about the death of Robin Williams, it completely shocked me. I know he brought so much happiness to so many people's lives through the movies he starred in & it breaks my heart knowing that he was feeling so unhappy.

L x

www.loulabeth.co.uk // bloglovin'

Beth Williams said...

Beautifully put Meg. It's so sad that it's still a "dirty" topic to talk about and people are ashamed of talking out loud about it. I read an amazing article today where a man asked his wife how Robin had died, he expected the reply of "suicide" but she so aptly replied Depression. I long for the day when Depression is thought of by all as a real illness and people stop expecting people to "snap out of it" and use ignorant phrases such as "their life is perfect, it's so selfish." X

Zoe Newlove said...

Raw & empowering my dear. To Robin Williams, an utter legend. xxx

Maisy Meow said...

This made me really sad too :( Haven't stopped thinking about him all day. Such a shame he didn't get the help he needed. Will never forget him!


Lauren Maria said...

Great post chick, that snippet is so poignant now

Lilac Ghosts said...

There definitely needs to be more awareness. I think, as a society, we use the word 'depressed' so flipantly that the word has lost all severity.

Robin Wiliams was, like most people, my childhood hero, he got me through some crappy times and always made me laugh. I also suffer with depression, so to find out that he took his own life because of his illness makes it extremely close to home and even more heart wrenching as I can imagine how desperate he was in the end for it to all be over.

You pretty much got the actual feeling of depression right. It can go from feeling like you are drowning to not feeling at all. It's a bit like you are actually hollow, like you don't even have any insides. I've only felt this a handful of extremely low times over the years and I've usually managed to rip myself out of it, even though sometimes it feels like I'm just trying to keep my head above water. But I can completely understand how someone could take their own life without a second thought. I don't think it's selfish at all.

Cat x

Lilac Ghosts

Ashlynn B said...

Everything you said. Yes. So many good points, and we do need to talk about this seriously! I was debating on making a video and telling my story, but that's a scary thing... But it might help someone so maybe we should all tell our story. Maybe someone will finally listen to the silent cries for help.

Eguono Ogueh said...

Lovely eye opening post, this really struck a cord with me as sadly a few years ago one of my friends ended his life because of the same disease. It came as a shock to everyone he knew, which proves that you just can't tell sometimes x

Gegsy Lifestyle & Fashion Blog

Simee Filippi said...

Couldn't have said it any better myself. All your points are legit, and i completely agree with you. I don't suffer from depression, but do suffer from anxiety and panick attacks and it really ticks me off when people say it's all in your head, just change the way you think. Mostly i think i wish it was that easy! People just don't get it these days. People use the word 'depressed' in way that has nothing to do with an actual ilness, when there is a difference in being sad from having a bad day and suffering from real depression. I don't think he was selfish at all, we'll never know what was going in his head unfortunatelly. Beautiful post though x

Angie McDonald said...

This post is so empowering and truthful - i love it. I definitely think it's true and noticed this myself, that i have seen so many articles over the course of the day that seem to have suddenly realised that depression actually is something real. It is so terrible and sad that a true acting legend has been lost to this and the snippet from Mork & Mindy is definitely something that makes you really think. We really should take more notice not just ourselves but as a nation, a world. I lost a friend to Depression and no-one around us really had any idea of the illness as it wasn't something that she felt others would understand or talk about. All the points you made in this post are so true and things that people really should thin about more, sometimes you just really need to listen to the people around you . Thankyou for this amazing post :) x

Jenny Cole said...

Fantastic post Megs. I've suffered from clinical depression and other mental illnesses for the last ten years and your post really struck a chord with me. In particular the part you wrote about what happens when you do open up - you're told to get on with it. When these sad things happen people say 'oh if only he'd spoken to someone about it' but the problem is he probably did. And if my opinion is anything to go by, he would have been told to look for the positives/believe in himself/get on with his life, which is of no help at all. We all need to talk about depression more and realise that people can't just keep swimming, but that they might need someone to pass them some armbands until they can start swimming again.

Jenny xx


Laura said...

This is such a good post. I read an article early by Russell Brand on Robins death saying how fragile people are and that basically no matter how strong you look and act you can be totally different on the inside. However awfully tragic this is hopefully more people are now aware xx


PatrĂ­cia Pinto said...

I agree with you in everything. I love this post, it almost made me tear up.
I'm waiting for the day that society starts seing depression as an illness. You can't just get cured from cancer one day to another so how would that be possible with depression? It's not like we snap our fingers and it's done, it's goodbye to depression because it isn't that easy, once it gets on us, it stays on us forever.
I just wish people wouldn't joke about how dangerous this illness is because it's actually one of the most fatal illness there are.
Once again, I loved your most.

Ellen Bourne said...

I'm always amazing that people still think 'selfishness' is behind depression. It sucks.

Bella Rose said...

This is beautifully written and you make some excellent points. As with all things, education and raising awareness are the first steps. We need to fight stigma and help those in need together. x

Bridget VanWart said...

Beautifully said, thank you.


Charlotte Daniels said...

Beautiful piece. As a sufferer myself I think it's important that we need to raise more awareness of depression and mental illnesses. People are more willing to talk than before but it's still not enough.
I wrote a piece too if you can give it a read please?


Hannah said...

Lovely post. I agree that it should not have taken a wonderful actor passing away to get us all to open up about depression. It has confused me for some time why people do not see it as an illness, but more of a self-inflicted emotion. One thing that makes it difficult for sufferers is that the word depression is thrown around a lot and used in the wrong context or to explain a different feeling. We need to stop being dismissive and instead come together to educate ourselves and therefore become supportive. x

Hope Butler said...

Beautiful post, I was diagnosed with clinical depression when I was 16 and although I am no longer on anti-deprressants or in therapy, it is something I battle with every day. I was tired of the fact I had to keep my illness a secret and it made me feel as if I was branded, as if it was my fault, so I came out so to say, and it was the best thing I could have done. Suddenly class mates who I had known for years came up to me with their own stories of mental health, and people began coming to me for help, they were struggling with feelings I myself was only beginning to understand. It is so important that we come together to fight this illness together, like that of cancer or diabetes. I highly reccoment the book 'Thrive' by Richard Layard and David M. Clark, some of the facts and fugures and stories in this book are truely outstanding H xx


Emily said...

This is an amazing post. I completely agree with you saying that we need to take mental illness more seriously. In my experience, it appears that a lot of people still believe that depression is a choice, when it's not, it's a chemical imbalance and I wish more people would understand that. Your post was lovely.

Beauty and Lifestyle Blog


Tiana Esparon said...

This post is lovely it literally brought me to tears. Everything you said is true. Depression is just as much an illness as cancer or diabetes or heart failure and it s sad that people are made to feel ashamed for having a mental illness. Robin Williams was one of my childhood icons and it makes me so sad that he's gone. Rip

Liz Schendelaar said...

This really hit so many points that people forget! This was such an amazing post and I think many people here would agree with you entirely :D

Amanda H said...

Beautiful writing and great words. Such a wonderful post. I love this and I love how it points out just how much depression and other mental illnesses are overlooked. This needs to change, there needs to be more awareness as you said. Blogging has made me realise just how many people are suffering with mental illnesses and it's such a high number of people. I've struggled and know how 'just push through it / come on' doesn't help. No matter the severity of your mental illness it's still there so we need to help! AMAZING POST x

niqihoneydew said...

Beautifully said, thank you for writing this post ♡ He will be incredibly missed, an inspiration to many and an unforgettable part of our childhoods, it's still unbelievable.. achingly sad.
We are all so very complex as is life, and so I hope we can look after each other and keep an open mind about everything that happens. Some things take time and aren't as simple as they seem, and we all go through experiences that no one else but ourselves understands. I completely agree with the quote in the image, being kind is so so important. You have inspired me to write a little post of my own on this subject, as it has affected me and close friends and family also.
Loneliness doesn't have to be a 'disease' that hurts us if we can learn to trust each other somehow.
I wish the best for everyone, and if (while reading my comment) you are going through a difficult time please ask for help! There will be many willing to xx

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