Understanding Depression

Regular readers know that I have had and continue to battle depression. I have also found that talking about ti honestly helps leave a breadcrumb trail for others to to follow so that they can seek help for their own battles.

I know that the trail works because I regularly get emails from people thanking me for sharing my stories about depression and sharing about how I came off anti-depressants. Each of us who has spoken publicly, people like John Kirwan and Mike King all help in their own way to assisting people with depression understand and overcome and mitigate the debilitating effects of depression.

I have been thinking over the holiday period about writing some more about the issues but i hadn’t quite worked out the shape of what i would write. As is often the way when I am researching about something a blog post elsewhere pops up and says what i want to say for me.

And so it was that I saw on Andrew Sullivan’s blog his snip from Jenny Lawson’s blog post about her battles:

I wrote this post a month ago, but I couldn’t bring myself to post it then.  I was too weak from fighting to shout, and so instead I whispered this into the night and left it unpublished until I felt like I could speak to it with the battle-cry it deserves.  Years ago, coming out about depression and anxiety disorder was something frightening, but now people are more honest and open and so much of the shame has dissipated.  We may not have pink ribbons or telethons but we know that someone out there understands.  That is, until we’re honest about how it affects us.  I’ve never written about this because I can’t talk about it without it being a trigger but I think it’s important to be honest even when it’s scary.  Especially when it’s scary.

But Jenny said so much more and it resonates with me, and so I will share it too:

When cancer sufferers fight, recover, and go into remission we laud their bravery.  We call them survivors.  Because they are.

When depression sufferers fight, recover and go into remission we seldom even know, simply because so many suffer in the dark…ashamed to admit something they see as a personal weakness…afraid that people will worry, and more afraid that they won’t.  We find ourselves unable to do anything but cling to the couch and force ourselves to breathe.

When you come out of the grips of a depression there is an incredible relief, but not one you feel allowed to celebrate.  Instead, the feeling of victory is replaced with anxiety that it will happen again, and with shame and vulnerability when you see how your illness affected your family, your work, everything left untouched while you struggled to survive.  We come back to life thinner, paler, weaker…but as survivors.  Survivors who don’t get pats on the back from coworkers who congratulate them on making it.  Survivors who wake to more work than before because their friends and family are exhausted from helping them fight a battle they may not even understand.

Regardless, today I feel proud.  I survived.  And I celebrate every one of you reading this.  I celebrate the fact that you’ve fought your battle and continue to win.  I celebrate the fact that you may not understand the battle, but you pick up the baton dropped by someone you love until they can carry it again.  I celebrate the fact that each time we go through this, we get a little stronger.  We learn new tricks on the battlefield.  We learn them in terrible ways, but we use them.  We don’t struggle in vain.

We win.

We are alive.

It is now just over a year since I came through the roughest time of my life. The toughest time wasn’t being depressed, it was coming off the medication and all the side effects both physical and mentally that are associated with that. I have done a lot of rough and tumble things in my life. I have jumped from airplanes, out the back of Hercules, from helicopters, I have tramped, hunted, fallen off cliffs into rivers, white water rafted, kayaked, waveskiid and surfed, i nearly drowned once swimming across an estuary but none of those things were as tough coming off anti-depressants.

But as Jenny says above, I won and I am alive.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.