Turning depression around

Nothing to be sneezed at

on 21/09/2013

I’ve had a cold this week, but I’ll only share that with you from here.  A nasty one, but just a cold nonetheless.  I’m comfortable saying that I have a cold, in the same way that I’m happy to say I have a migraine.  I’ll even go into detail about the blind spots, the flickering lines in my peripheral vision, followed by the temporary paralysis of my face and limbs, and if it’s a really bad one, the nausea.

Because that’s the thing, isn’t it?  A lot of people – not all of them though – are more sympathetic to the common cold than they are to depression.  I wonder why.  Because they can identify with it, having had their fair share before?  Because the symptoms are easily visible and audible?  Because the chances are, there’s plenty of it going around and it’s inevitable, especially at this time of year when the seasons are changing?  Because it’s easily remedied with tablets and syrups for which not even a prescription is needed?

They might not understand exactly how a cold is spread or how the germ is identified, but they accept it for what it is, and sympathise with the patient.  Okay, jokes about man flu or bird flu are too easy, but questioning of whether it’s a genuine bug or not is unlikely.

Do we take it seriously ourselves though?  We listen to our bodies when we’re physically ill, but if we’re depressed, a lot of us carry on regardless.  It took me until my last episode to seek help.  I’d been in denial every other time, not wanting the stigma of mental health issues attached to me or written forever in my medical notes.  I’m glad to say that facing up to it myself meant that I could admit it to others.  On the main, those around me were supportive, and it was surprising just how many people I knew had been through it and kept it to themselves.

A trapped nerve doesn’t show up on an x-ray or a bone scan, but that doesn’t mean that the pain isn’t real.  No visible evidence of someone’s suffering doesn’t make their daily struggle any less real for them.  Depression isn’t as contagious as the cold, but it might be just as common.


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