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Depression: the silent struggle

It's definitely been a hot minute since I posted anything mental health related - that's not because I've been neglecting that element of my blog, or trying to phase it out. I feel lucky that lately I've been on the right side of my mental health and have been in a fairly good place.

This week the all-familiar sickening spiral of sadness hit me, though, and I've felt myself riding a really not fun helter-skelter into a pit of depression.

Depression is something that I've dealt with for quite a number of years (if you've been with me for a while, you'll know it's something I've been trying to be brave enough to talk freely and openly about, too). I've found ways of coping and just battling through life when my brain is doing everything it can to try and stop me in my tracks.

One thing that non-sufferers (I do hate the word suffering) tend not to understand is how much of a silent struggle mental health is as a whole.

Back in university was definitely a period of time for me when my depression was at its most debilitating. I couldn't get out of bed - I made it to maybe 40% of my seminars and 0% of my lectures. I was super isolated because I didn't want to tell anyone why I felt this way. I found university hard, sure, but it was a lot of my lack of friends and social life that forced me into this deep, dark abyss.

The days I did make it into university were exhausting, but I was proud of myself for doing it. It's mad, thinking about it, how we have to celebrate our tiny victories; things that other people can do every day without thinking twice about.

Someone who's in a good state of mind can get up and take a shower without it being a raging battle in their head to try and muster up enough will power to even swing their legs over the bed and make it to the bathroom. Other people can make plans to see friends without spending 7 whole excruciating days thinking of excuses to flake out that were believable without it being too much of a cry for attention.

I find it ridiculous and disgusting that even now, ten months into the year 2017, mental health isn't recognised as a valid excuse for... Well, anything really.

I don't have enough fingers and toes to count the amount of times I've woken up in the morning and thought about all the untimely deaths I'd rather die than go to work that day. Sometimes, I can't scrape together enough mental energy to go to work and be pleasant and smile and do my job efficiently.

But unless you have a contagious disease or you've broken both of your legs, mental health isn't a valid reason for taking a sick day.

This week has wiped the floor with me - nothing particularly awful has happened, I'm feeling a bit lonely whilst Josh is away and I'm stressed about work. But I spent the evening a few days ago eating Dominos pizza and having a moderate to severe breakdown whilst watching The Notebook. I woke up the next morning with swollen eyes and put more highlighter on my face to look awake than is probably socially acceptable for a Monday morning.

I made it to work despite wanting to crawl back under the duvet for another few days and worked my 10 hour shift, being a friendly, polite, happy-to-help people-person. That's my job. And I did that.

Not one of the many people I saw that day knew I'd spent the night before crying, had a little cry that morning, probably shed a tear or two when I went for a wee ten minutes before. No one knew that I had to set four alarms that morning to force myself to get up and actually shower. No one knew that I slept for eight hours but felt like I could sleep for days and still be exhausted.

All I want to say is that anyone who struggles with mental health and manages to live a normal life, be it every day or even just for a few hours, I'm proud of you. I'm sorry that our struggle is still a silent one and that we still aren't taken as seriously as those who have physical ailments. But hopefully, if we keep talking about it, people will understand that just because you can't see something, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

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