Don’t Yell At Clouds
Yesterday was Bell’s annual “Let’s Talk” campaign to help raise awareness about mental illness and while I appreciate the raised awareness and the funds raised to support more work in the mental health field, I chose not to share the #Let’sTalk stuff.
Partly because I am and was, rather ironically, still going through a low period and wasn’t in a place to talk about that stuff yesterday and partly because Bell is anything BUT good for my mental health. Between their crap service and even worse customer service, they’re enough to make anyone crazy.
So, I wanted to write something this week about mental health.
I’ve written a lot on this blog about things I do when I’m feeling low or how I analyse or try to understand what I’m feeling, but I don’t think I’ve talked a lot about HOW it feels.
It’s not something that I feel I can ever quite articulate correctly and even when speaking to those closest to me, it’s hard to explain…but I also thinks it is important to talk about how these things feel so that it’s easier to understand.
Every experience is very subjective, so what I’m about to say does not apply to everyone but this is the best way I can explain it:
When I go through a low, it feels like barometer pressure.
Sometimes I can feel the pressure building, but a lot of the time I don’t even realize it until the storm begins.
How I feel during those storms differs but usually it is one or more of the following feelings: numb, sad, exhausted, or overwhelmed.
At best, I end up feeling disconnected, disinterested, and numb. At worst, I feel a physical ache in my chest- like I’m made of eggshell and inside is an aching and empty pit. I know that sounds dramatic, but that’s how it feels.
It’s why it can consume people and we lose amazing friends and family who couldn’t ever see an end to those feelings.
It’s all too easy for people to dismiss depression as someone feeling sad, but it’s so much more complicated than that and you can tell someone who’s suffering through a low that it’ll pass but that’s not really helpful.
Logically, I know that this is a storm. These feelings won’t last, they will pass and the sunshine will come back but knowing that doesn’t make the storm go away and it doesn’t speed it up any either.
Telling someone with depression, or berating yourself for being depressed is exactly as useful as yelling at a cloud.
You: HEY! HEY YOU, CLOUD! I UNDERSTAND YOU.
Cloud: *is a cloud*
You: I UNDERSTAND THE SCIENCE THAT MAKES YOU A CLOUD!
Cloud: *is still a cloud*
You: YOU’RE JUST A VISIBLE MASS OF CONDENSED WATER VAPOR, FLOATING AROUND IN THE ATMOSPHERE!
Cloud: *is still a fucking cloud*
You: ONCE THERE IS A SUFFICIENT CHANGE IN THE ATMOSPHERE, YOU’LL BE GONE!
Cloud: *gives no fucks and is still a cloud*
First of all, you look ridiculous yelling at that cloud. Secondly, as most people will admit, unless you’re a wizard or something, yelling at a cloud is probably going to have no effect on how fast that cloud moves/doesn’t move/evaporates.
Same goes for emotions.
I’m not great with emotions at the best of times, so sometimes my lows manifest themselves as physical illness. This was especially a problem in university, before I went to counselling and before I knew that what I felt was not normal.
I remember in first year of university, this one time….I was either not sleeping at all or sleeping too much and I didn’t know why. I lost my appetite. I lost all interest in doing anything at all. I got the point where the thought of eating made me ill, so I was just pale and I felt cold and out of it and had no idea why.
My folks were really great about it and I had I don’t know how much blood taken at the Doctor’s office and they couldn’t find anything wrong. Finally, at what felt like the millionth appointment, my Doctor was out sick and there was a temporary replacement there.
The new Doctor and I spoke for about 5 minutes before she started asking me questions.
I learned two things that day.
- My regular Doctor was a lazy asshole.
- I probably had depression.
I would not seek help for depression for another 3 years from this point. Embarrassed because I didn’t think I had the right to be depressed in the first place, I did research online and tried to manage my symptoms via what I learned that way.
When I finally did seek counselling, I left my first appointment being told in not-so-many words: “I have no idea how you’ve not sought help before now and we you need more care than we can give you.”
I was given a referral to another counselling facility, which I almost didn’t go to.
Part of what made it a struggle for me to ask for help was that I didn’t think I had the right to be depressed. I recognized how privileged I was and couldn’t understand how I could have the gall to be depressed when so many people have it so much worse than I do.
I had amazing and supportive parents.
I had friends.
I had decent grades.
So why the hell was I depressed?
Now pay attention.
This is important.
THAT IS NOT HOW IT WORKS.
If you have depression, you basically have a built-in weather system that is prone to storms that last longer than average. That’s all it is.
Everyone has down days and low periods but if your low periods are lasting for, oh say, two weeks? That’s probably something to consider and it doesn’t matter if you’re life is absolutely flawless, you can’t control how you feel.
Still, remember, it is a storm. It is weather and it is horrible but it will pass. All you can do is try to plan for it as best you can, take advantage of your resources, and batten down the hatches.
There’s a lot I want to say about this subject but so much of it is still very personal to me and a lot of it has already been said by so many other talented people. The Bloggess, whose blog is amazing and you really should read rather than mine, covers this sort of thing much better than I do.
I suppose, when it comes down to it, I just want to put another voice out there to tell you that it is OK to have depression. It’s not fun, but it’s OK.
Seek help if you need help.
Take a deep breath and remember it’s scary and awful, but it’s just a storm.
And remember that no good ever came from yelling at clouds.
Posted on January 29, 2016, in Serious Life Stuff and tagged afraid, anxiety, ask for help if you need it, Be yourself, Depression, yelling at clouds is the new tilting at windmills. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.