Last week I wrote about my recent depression and how things have not been all sunshine and rainbows for me lately, the response has been a little bit overwhelming. It’s been quite a shock to realise just how many people have suffered in the same way as I am.
The problem with being depressed was not just feeling awful and useless but the isolation that comes with it. The problem for me is that this isolation is often self imposed. For me feeling worthless meant hiding away from the people who wanted to help me the most. I turned within myself and shut myself away from everyone. I became private, not sharing my feelings.
Instead of reaching out for help, I was doing anything I could to make myself happy. Silly, stupid things that just made me more miserable in the end. By retreating within I locked out all the people who could help me and I removed my support network. Instead of reaching out to the one person who wanted to help me the most I turned inwards and in my depression did anything that would bring me happiness. The problem was that these things were only fleeting and worthless and I lost something that was far more important to me.
The great lesson in this, is that when hope is lost the hardest thing to do sometimes is to reach out for help, but it is also the thing that becomes the most important. It wasn’t until I started to share what was happening that I began to feel better and the people around me who cared enough to be there stepped forward. A problem shared is a problem halved. I was struck by the number of people who said “we didn’t know, why didn’t you say something?”. Part of me wants to say “well you never asked, you never picked up the phone either”. I have to admit that it always bugs me when people say “I haven’t heard from you in so long”, as if telephones only work one way. But it’s not up to others alone to make sure we are okay, we all must take responsibility at some point for our own wellness and our own recovery and I hope that’s what I am doing now.
What stopped me from sharing?
For me it was shame. Shame at being a failure, shame at not being braver, shame at what I had done, shame for all the things I wasn’t, shame for what others might think of me. I filled my head with so many of the expectations of the people around me that when I failed to meet those expectations I felt pained, but more than that I believe that the conflict between who I wanted to be and who I was, and my authentic self was that which in the end made me sad or at least contributed to my pain. I have always thought of my problems as my own. I’ve always kept them to myself. I think people have their own problems they don’t need mine as well. I should be smart enough to figure this out, I made the problem I should fix it, and on and on it goes.
Being able to talk about my problems has brought up other issues too. Why do I find it so hard to ask for help? When we feel worthless then we also think that our problems are worthless too. Meaningless and trivial, why should we bother other people with them, they wouldn’t care anyways. But it’s not true.
If you are looking for answers here I don’t believe I have any other than the sharing of my own feelings and experiences. The lesson here is that even though it is so often counter intuitive, reaching out for help is one of the pieces in the recovery puzzle. I am surrounded by people who care about me but it’s not just up to them to make me happy, it’s up to me too.