MUST READ: “Shining a light on depression”, by sufferer Michelle Egan – TheLiberal.ie – Our News, Your Views
November 20, 2017

MUST READ: “Shining a light on depression”, by sufferer Michelle Egan

There is no cure for depression. Even when you feel better there is always the worry of it returning. Medication gives you short term happiness which can deteriorate when you stop. Counselling helps you to deal with the bad feelings and thoughts. Even talking to a partner or friend can ease the pain but, in my opinion, depression is a life long illness with different stages and I’ve faced them all. When I was 16 the panic attacks began. When in my 20s the severe thoughts began, “If I swerve my car into that wall I can avoid dealing with this” “sleep is my release so if I take all these pills I can sleep forever” “my kids lives would be better without me” These things are hard to talk about, and for most who know me probably hard to believe.

Most of my family didn’t even realise how badly I was suffering. Me, so bubbly and outgoing constantly thinking of the easy way out. To think of it as an easy way out is wrong. Usually the easy option is the wrong choice in the long run. You can tell a person “you have so much to live for, look at what you’ll leave behind” or “look at what you’ll miss out on when you feel better” but to a person suffering they don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, to them there is no way out, no happier times, and they feel the people left behind are better off. So don’t just tell them, show them! Give them your ear and you’ll see behind the fake smile, give them your time and you may just give them a real reason to smile.

I wanted to write this article, not as a person who suffers but to give those who don’t an insight and maybe even a nudge in the right direction on how to help a person deal with it. As I scroll through social media sites or read articles on depression I see a lot of the same point “talk to someone”. If only it was that easy. Speaking from my own experience, the last thing I wanted to do was talk to someone. Yes, there is still a taboo about depression, and I felt not only embarrassed by having it, I also felt weak. I couldn’t control my mind, I couldn’t see the good in my life only the bad, and to be honest, anyone who doesn’t have depression always had the same reaction “Just think of the less fortunate”. This, to me, is a kick when you’re down. It’s almost like saying “you have it good, get over it”. I know there are many people in worse situations than me but everyone has there own crosses to bare and it is wrong to belittle anyone’s crisis because you believe you, or another has it harder.

Of course you should speak to someone, ask for help if you can, but the percentages of suicides prove that many can’t just strike up a conversation about it. Basically, what I’m trying to say is don’t wait for someone to come to you, there are many signs that someone is struggling. Don’t be afraid to say “hey, lets have a chat”. Even if you don’t know the person what harm will it do? During my worst spell of depression nobody asked me if everything was ok. I have hundreds of friends on Facebook but no one I could tell my real thoughts to. Eventually I broke down in work, told my husband how bad it was and went to the doctor for help. I can’t count the amount of times I thought of the quick exit from my suffering, more than I would like to admit, and I came close many times. I was lucky to have a husband who would sit next to me on the floor for up-to an hour just trying to make me see sense but he had a life to. Having one person to lean on is brilliant but a large support group is a necessity.

For those of you who have friends or family who suffer with this horrendous illness, you know how severe it can be, but please don’t back away because they appear to have improved. It is so easy to relapse, be it because of a large upset or something as simple as not having tea bags when you want a cup of tea. For a person with depression small things can affect you just as much, if not more than the larger things.

We live in a judgmental society. We complain quicker than we complement. It is easier to put someone down than build them up. I takes a long time to make someone truly happy, it takes a second to crush them. Bare this in mind when you go for a meal and something goes wrong or someone barges in front of you in a queue, everyone is fighting a silent battle and everyone is human.

I am not a writer, but I really wanted to say something. I don’t want sympathy, I don’t want attention, but if this opens the eyes of one person I have succeeded.

For the readers who have depression and are contemplating the easy way out, take it one day at a time, look for the good in your day, even if it’s winning €2 on a scratch card or your child telling you they adore you, it will out-way the bad. As the late, great Robin Williams said in ‘Good Will Hunting’ “You will have bad times, but it’ll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren’t paying attention to.”

Please share this to raise awareness.
Thank you,

Michelle Egan

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