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Ia m in my late twenties and enjoy much
the same activities as my peers. I like
socialising, going to music festivals,
reading and going on a man hunt at
the weekend. I eat too much and have often
absconded from a nightclub in favour of a pie.
Many a time my worried friends have found
me alone in a city eatery after I have slipped
out of a bar. I aspire to write a book when I
grow up. I hope to get ma rried someday a nd
have two sons. I want loads of dogs and to
live beside the beach at some point. Oh, and I
suffer from depression.
I am sure that there is one thing that
people reading this will remember about me
from the above paragraph and it is not that
I a m a terrible pie gobbling woman who
abandons her friends in the middle of the
night in favour of affairs of the mouth.
Ah yes, mental illness, the big pink
elephant in the room, the topic of conversation
that raises eyebrows, the silent malaise. Ma ny
who have it, choose not to voice it due to the
stigma attached. Understandably, people can
feel uncomfortable accepting an illness that
is intangible. Equally, sufferers are fearful
of how others will view them if they admit
they have mental health problems. Fact is,
depression is very very common and also very
very treatable if given the chance to cure.
In my personal experience, self acceptance
is a huge contributor to offering some relief.
With depression laying down its roots in my
early teens, I carried this, along with the usual
youth grievances such as flat chestedness and
bad hair. At 27, I still have the same issues. The
only change has been that time and experience
have taught me that sadness doesn't define
me. It is an illness not a behavioural issue (as I
once heard someone describe it, as if they were
discussing a disobedient dog). But good friends
and, at really low times, good medication, has
helped to keep me on an even keel.
Time sometimes isn't a great healer but it
can certainly teach us great lessons. Time has
allowed me to come to terms with the fact that
my depressive side has won the race and now
outshines the true me. These days its presence is
palpable. As with any illness, each individual's
experience is unique. It angers me so much to
hear comments from people like, "Snap out of
it" or, "You have nothing to be sad about".
Depression is not the same as going
through a rough patch. I have found myself
on occasions in the heart of a party or joyous
family event and have felt a deep, deep
sadness to my core. It is inexplicable. I find
the best way to describe my depression is that
I am two people. The functioning happy
a mbitious version of me has become detached
a nd what I am left with is an empty shell. In
my lucidity, I long to become whole again
but I see the old me slipping away. More than
a nything, I want to be able to reach out a nd
be heard. I want to be healed.
I blame no one for my affliction but I do
feel an uneasiness with how mental health
patients are being dealt with by professionals.
I have visited countless doctors. Thankfully,
I have not yet been met with cynicism but I
have been greeted with nervous pity. It seems,
in my experience anyway, that even the
professionals don't know what to say. This is
the barrier with mental health that needs to
be broken down.
Depression is an illness, not a low point
in someone's life that should make others feel
embarra ssed and uncomfortable. Taking away
the embarrassment will help eradicate the
stigma thus helping to shine some normality
back into the depressive's life. That is half the
battle when you suffer in silence because of
stigma and shame -- nothing would feel better
than feeling accepted in society again. Who
knows, that person you used to know who's
slipping away might sta rt making her way back.
I cannot cha nge people's opinion
through a few of paragraphs but I do hope
that I might provoke some thought. I like
a nybody else experiencing mental illness a m
not different or cra zy or mad. Clearly, I can
express a n opinion and still have a voice.
The only difference is the big grey mush
in my head that controls my feelings and
emotions sometimes gets sick. It's a s simple
as this -- if illness comes in the visible form
when it affects our physicality, then surely it is
perfectly viable that it ca n affect our psyche.
Like most things in life, it's going to take
teamwork for us to come to grips with and
tackle mental illness, involving effort from
'More than anything, I want to
be able to reach out and be
heard. I want to be healed.'
8 © NOVA AUGUST 2013
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E nergy Healing
Silence is no friend of depression, either for the sufferer
or those around them. In her 27 years, Louise Keogh has
learned the importance of opening up to help lift the fog.
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