Depression and Keeping a British Stiff Upper Lip

Posted by Abi on 20-Jun-2017 14:52:00
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Mental Health and Depression

Firstly, this may not be an easy read and I may no apology for that. Personally, I have more experience of this than I would like. I have suffered myself and have lost those close to me as a result. The nearest thing I can compare depression to is cancer, some people beat it and some don't. It eats away at you and it's exceptionally difficult to talk about. In fact, I can tell you that I will never talk about my darkest thoughts.

Why? Because then it would actualise them and I couldn't face that. Do you know the problem with all this talk about metal health? I don't want to talk about it. I don't want a hug. I don't want cup of tea and someone to tell me it will all get better. What I want is to hide under the duvet and cry until I have no more tears. If you think the answer is to post on social media that you are always listening it won't help. I know you mean well but I'd never send you a message to say I'm losing my grip and I'm good at faking it. To the person who stepped in front of a train, took an overdose, slit their wrists, hung themselves, all I want to say is I understand and I'm sorry we lost you. Sometimes what people need most is space and understanding, a cave we can run away to occasionally and not be questioned.

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Who?

The black dog isn't prejudice in any way. Man, woman, child of any religion, colour or sexual persuasion it doesn't matter. There is a lot of talk about men speaking up and that is because statistically they commit suicide more often or maybe I should rephrase that, they succeed in their pursuit. However, did you know more women attempt suicide in less brutal ways, than say hanging, and so are more often found and saved.

And children.... this terrifies me. Having lost their grandpa and grandad to suicide I would hate our children to think it's even an option especially with the growing teenage suicide rates in the UK. But we talk freely about it and I try, at least, to keep a check on their emotional wellbeing. 

Why?

This is a tricky subject and not easy to answer. Depression comes in all shapes and size, there may be many reasons. Family, job, life in general, we all have our ups and downs.  Sometimes the thing that threw us over the edge seems actually quite insignificant but the culmination can be vast. And if  you can't deal with the little things anymore, then it's tough. Looking at Britain today the big things are hard enough.

For me the straw that broke the camel's back was a missed turning on the motorway. The second time was the sound of laughter in the pub downstairs.

Fear

Should a cake company talk about this? Do you know, I'm really not sure. It is my humble opinion that we are all human beings regardless of our race, colour or religion. Looking at the shocking terrorist attacks that have taken place in Manchester and London, I can't help but appreciate the outpouring of love. The amazing heroes that come forward and offer hope to us all. The Finsbury Park attack shows that frustrations are boiling over. In all honesty, it deeply saddens me.  I don't know what the answer is but it can't be more hate.

However, the fear that the tabloids create over terrorists, migrants, Brexit...that sickens me. And when you are in a black place yourself this only serves to make things worse personally. My dad had a melt down once over digestive biscuits because he thought he was going to get mad cow disease. A vegetarian of many years but the papers told him derivatives were in his favourite biscuits and it could be passed on that way. Rational? No, but then neither was his state of mind. 

Money

I remember when I was 18 meeting my step dad for lunch in London. At the time he worked for Goldman Sachs (but don't hold that against him!). His position in life, though, was more prosperous than my own, it's fair to say. He asked how I was doing and I told him I was broke. What he said next has always stood with me, "You always spend more than you earn" he smiled. So no cash hand out just pearly words of wisdom. Not particularly comforting at the time but I do relate a lot more now. 

Money is a really weird one. We can have cash in the bank but a rocketing credit card. We can have nothing or appear to have it all. But what counts is how in control of it we feel. Looking into the future when you think you don't have enough is very daunting. My aim is always to keep the roof over our heads and food on the table but many struggle with even that.

Relationships

This one is difficult. From the outside it seems as though the person is intentionally cutting themselves off. Perhaps you do see them but not for long or they cancel engagements. It's a vicious circle because the more depressed they are, the more they may hide away. Leaving them to feel that nobody cares as the phone has stopped ringing because they never come out. 

Breakdown in relationships can have family implications too. And the feeling that you have failed in life may be too much of a burden to bare.

Nothing

Be careful we don't like to talk about this one. This is the feeling that overwhelms, stops you getting out of bed and makes you cry. However, when someone asks you have no answer. Not even something you don't want to say. Speaking as someone who has lost people very close to me, I can tell you that it's release that we need. To stop the nightmares, the paranoia and the overwhelming fear of failure. It really doesn't matter how real those things are. They are in our mind. So don't tell me it will get better or that I'm loved, I know that but when?

What do we do?

So yes let's talk about mental health and depression but don't ever expect someone suffering from severe depression to come to you when they need you. I don't have the answer, the only suggestion I have is that we stop communicating through technology and start using our eyes.
 
When that friend makes excuses and can't come out, ask them if they would like you to come over. When someone you love shouts and pushes you away, give them space, but do ask what's wrong and if you can help. When you pass a stranger on the street, smile and say hello, you may be the only person they speak to all day and it may break their thoughts and help them smile. Sometimes it's the silence that gives us away.
 
I won't ever tell you what goes through my mind but you can help distract me and that goes a long way. I'm just trying to stay in control so don't push me. Just reach out and touch someone, the edge is closer than you think. In the end, bad things will happen, they happen every day across the world although most we barely hear about. Tragedies will come. Who knows what tomorrow may bring.
 
The only way that I can see forward is to reach out to one another. Show that our British stiff upper lip isn't a negative attribute but more a keep calm and carry on attitude. Look in on an elderly neighbour, check they are ok. Phone a friend you haven't heard from in a while. Reach out and let someone know you are thinking of them. It doesn't have to be a huge gesture. Bake them a bake, it's very comforting, or send them something. If you are worried about a stranger just speak out. The worst thing that will happen is you will embarrass yourself the best may be you saved someone's life. Suicide prevention because there is no cure.
 
Finally, if this is you it's ok. This feeling won't last forever. Life changes, regardless of what we want but that's ok too. Find your cave and take time out for you. Call the Samaritans. You will get through this x
 
 

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PS

If you post that you are stuck in traffic or the train is delayed because some "idiot" has decided to end their life, think. They didn't get there lightly and they won't bother you again. You will get home and your life will go on so shut the f*ck up. Depression will have claimed it's latest victim. They will be gone forever and the only thing that will follow is devastation but don't worry that won't affect you just their family and friends.

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