I don’t know about you, but when I give thought to my depression I tend to find myself thinking almost exclusively in terms of me, how it affects me, and how bad off I am because of it. It’s an unfortunate side effect of mental illness, assuming I’m not the only one who does this.
The reality is that mental illness has influence over far more than simply one person. Would that it really were just the sufferer who suffered! In the short time that I’ve acknowledged having depression I’ve seen quite the path of destruction left as I saunter through life.
Sure, losing my job as a fairly direct result of mental illness affected me, but it affected my small non-profit employer as well. Seeking, hiring, training, and acclimating to a new employee isn’t always a stroll through the garden. My inability to perform as expected, and finally owning up to it and leaving the nature center where I once happily worked, hit me hard but I was of course not the only one affected.
I have two lovely tween/teen daughters who all at the same are the source of pride I have as well as constant reminders of how I’ve failed. For thirteen years I’ve been letting them down, only recently realizing that it’s my depression that was causing a significant part of those failings. In the past few years especially, as they’ve grown older and more aware, they’ve seen me crying like a baby and being unable to function for hours (or days) at a time. That can’t be easy on a young person, to see a parent almost completely fall apart. They’ve done their best to console me at those times, and as much as their love and attention meant to me they’re not equipped to fully handle that kind of thing. It’s supposed to be the other way round – the parent is the strong one, the voice of reason and consolation, doing all he/she can to support and love the child. But not in my family. Depression has rendered me the child, and made my daughters have to act as the adults when they should be focused on living their childhood as children. Those two beautiful little (ish) young ladies should be worried about nothing more crucial than algebra exams, boys, keeping up with friends and trends, and texting – not taking care of their malfunctioning father.
Hitting even closer to home is my affect on my sweet girlfriend Claudia (yep – of Summer Solstice Girl fame). She bears the brunt of my mental health problems, acting as friend, confidant, therapist, parent, and all around tower of strength through all my episodes of acute dark times. My depression has inflicted much upon the two of us, as well as the One we aspire to be together, more so than on any other relationship I have. It makes perfect sense, being that she’s closer to me than anyone else, and at least as precious to me as anyone else, but it’s that much more sad and frustrating because she’s the one in the world I want to keep from harm and sadness.
We’ve gone through periods of misunderstanding, frustration, anger, sadness, mistrust, doubt… all because of my mental illness(es) – or, at least I hope that it’s mental illness that brings all that upon us. There’s a real possibility that it is also simply my nature and who I am that causes these problems, but that only speaks to the notion that my mental illness(es) and I are not two distinct entities but are actually one and the same.
I know I’m not supposed to think that way, but it’s difficult to avoid that line of thought when the effects of the illness are so present and powerful.
The point of saying all that? You’re always encouraged to seek help if you feel you have any mental health problems, and many of us are reluctant to do so, for various reasons. If you’ve not sought professional help, or at least a medical diagnosis as a start, keep in mind that it’s not merely you that is suffering. Those around you are too – not so much because of how your potential illness directly affects them, but by how they take no joy in watching you suffer.
If you need a reason to visit your doctor, or a kick in the bum, or are simply too proud to admit to mental health issues – keep in mind that it’s your loved ones around you that will be most relieved to see you seek help. Their sadness in seeing you suffer should be enough reason for you to get what help you can.
Now, go – and all the best to you.
© Sid Dunnebacke and A Canvas Of The Minds 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sid Dunnebacke and A Canvas Of The Minds with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.