We often talk about our depression like it’s another person. Me and my depression, because at times it does feel like another person following you around. Like other person inside your brain, like someone else’s internal monologue constantly interrupting your own. We get so used to referring to it as a separate entity, that catches us off guard, that tricks us, that bullies us, that controls us and that is where i find that narrative can become problematic. While obviously we, I, am not completely able to control my anxiety and depression, otherwise they wouldn’t exist! I am however responsible for my actions. Making depression and anxiety a separate person which we don’t control can mean we no longer take responsibility for ourselves and believe me I’ve seen people use that excuse, ‘ that wasn’t me, it was my depression, I’m better now though.’ Totally disregarding others feelings because we were ill, it’s a hard line to tread, I’ve flaked and ducked out without saying bye, when I was younger I hurt people’s feelings in order to get attention, escapism, a peak in my self esteem, I was incredibly depressed. That didn’t mean I wasn’t accountable, though raking yourself over the coals isn’t helpful either, being accountable and present can help you figure out the why’s and move past things. If we blame THAT person for letting people down or acting out, if we refuse to hold ourselves accountable for the thing WE have done, it gives depression and anxiety all the control. We are giving up our accountability & responsibility to an illness. I spent over a decade playing the same record internally;
‘you are not good enough, why are you trying? Everyone hates you, you do not deserve love, letting someone use you is the only reason they will stay you are a bad person and don’t trust anyone!’ They didn’t all come at once but slowly the track rounded out to this cacophony of thought on repeat, at times louder than others. I spent most of my life building bad habits and coping mechanisms. I had to change the entire way I viewed life. I’d like to say it was like flipping a switch but it’s wasn’t.
I think it’s why I personally have such difficulty with some of the language used when referring to mental well being. I understand the use of word illness, honestly no matter how bad I’ve been I’ve never liked the word illness. I, on the other hand have never had trouble with the word weakness. Depression and anxiety are powerful, crushing things, I gave in to negative thoughts and patterns, weakness and vulnerability are human, I’m not ashamed of my mental health, of the depression and anxiety, but taking ownership and facing my darkness has helped me become stronger and happier. I understand too the point that people without experience of these things need to know it is as incapacitating as a physical illness but I think sometimes it can take away accountability and therefore the motivation to get help and improve.
Are there any terms you prefer or dislike?