Someone told me the other day that they didn’t think I had a mental health disorder. It was meant neither as a compliment nor an insult, more as a throwaway remark, but I actually took it quite badly. I should probably be happy that people don’t write me off as a Depressed Person the moment they set eyes on me, but it can sometimes be quite frustrating trying to explain that I am one. Everyone tries to put on a brave face in front of others, right? Everyone has off days; everyone gets tired; everyone feels occasionally like they can’t cope. So what if I sometimes want everyone else in the world to go away – that’s just because I’m shy, isn’t it? I don’t deserve special treatment just because I’m feeling sorry for myself.
Like I’ve said before, one of the worst things about depression is trying to explain it to other people. I’m actually doing pretty well at the moment (so maybe I should stop whining in my pathetic blog and just get over it), but even that’s a weird concept when the vast majority of the illness that makes me do badly is manifested inside my head and doesn’t have any obvious physical symptoms. When the kind of things your illness makes you feel like doing – curling up in a ball under your desk, sitting in front of the TV for 8 hours straight, crying, or shouting at yourself for being such a loser – are socially unacceptable, though, you try and hide them, so of course they’re not obvious to everyone else. I already have enough trouble trying to convince myself I’m not worthless, without having to worry about the rest of the world thinking so too.
The trouble is, it’s all in my head. But the trouble with that phrase is that it’s referring to a fairly average head, which doesn’t have it in for itself and is easy enough to empty out for a bit. My head is not like that – most of it is, but the bit where the depression lives takes little negatives and magnifies them out of all proportion whilst ignoring the positives. When it gets going, there is very little I can do to stop it, and it has so much ammunition that I still struggle to defend myself against it. It really is like having the proverbial demon on my shoulder, except that instead of tempting me to do evil (which would actually make a nice change) it gives a constant stream of abuse which nothing can shut out. This is demoralising, to say the least.
All this talk of little voices is probably enough to convince anyone that maybe I am crazy after all; but the knowledge that I’m not is one fairly neutral fact that the even the little voices can’t drown out.