Dear Badger,

‘Ah, sounds like first world problems’. This is the most common response I hear when someone talks about a depressed person. The cultural image of a depressed person, is that they simply lie about all day, fecklessly moping about their life; which in comparison to the rest of the world, is pretty damn good. People prefer to revert to the old English mantra of ‘pull your socks up’ when suggesting how to improve one’s mental health.

While within universities such as Sussex, there been a movement to treat mental health seriously, there is still a widespread misunderstanding of the disease. Unfortunately, the ultimate catalyst for a response to mental health, is suicide.

Because the question to check that they’re ‘O.K’ is ‘it’s not like you’re suicidal, is it?’ I used to fall into the mainstream category; I dismissed depression as a passing Facebook status, a crying out for comments like ‘are you okay?’ That may seem trivial, or annoying, but it’s still a small cry for help. My own experience with depression began in first year, beginning with feeling alone and isolated. My response was trivial; I’d log onto the NHS website and take their ‘How depressed are you?’ test.

Questions which leapt from ‘have you lost interest in hobbies you used to enjoy?’ to ‘In the past week, have you contemplated hurting yourself?’ I think my result was ‘you might be fifty per cent depressed’. Again, trivial. My ignorance lead to a worsening feeling of isolation, which resulted in intense paranoia and anxiety. People believe this different to depression: it’s isn’t, it’s just another manifestation.I used to describe the feeling as people on a plane hurtling towards earth; I’d spend time in lectures clutching my wrist, convinced of the inevitable.

Sometimes it would wake me up in the night, and I’d lie there for forty minutes, feeling like the room was closing in. Other days, paranoia would stop me from leaving the house, so I’d just stay in.

Only when a friend intervened, and noticed that I wasn’t right, did I begin to accept that maybe, something wasn’t right. Even then, it seemed like a defeat.

It’s only through gradual talking, acceptance, and growth that you can learn to deal with it. Admitting that something’s wrong is the first step. Don’t be afraid to do so. One of the problems with being depressed, is the feeling that it’s just you, in the bubble, with no one looking or noticing.

Just remember that people (more than you could imagine) will accept you with open arms of love. That, for now, is what keeps me going.


Categories: News

One comment

Dealing with depression

  1. I too was a very depressed student while at sussx in the early 1970 s. I’m glad to see someone writing about it now. At the time I feared any ” help”, and the prospect of mental hospital, instead making, fortunately, minor suicide attempts. But that experience, with a few loving friends who eventually challenged me, and some reading as part of my course on the anti-psychiatry movement, led to my training in Art Therapy , Body Psychotherapy, and a vocation of 35 years standing. Those difficult years have enabled me to walk a mile or so in the shoes of my many clients; to reassure them that there can be life beyond what seems like a narrowing tunnel of despair. I can tell my younger self with the “attachment disorder ” that I have had a enriched & rewarding adulthood and hope to enjoy my elder years even more. It was fed in part by that time of heart ache , isolation and regret.

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