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October 15, 2015

Depression: It’s as Real as the Spoken Word.

Renee.hawk/Flickr

Story Number One:

Bob has depression.

He’s been battling it for six or more years now. Bob’s depression is dark and painful and rarely leaves him. It’s like a heavy cloud always hovering above him. Even on not so bad days he is always aware of it.

It controls his life. It consumes him. Because of his depression, Bob is unable to carry out simple everyday tasks, making life, work and relationships seem impossible.

His depression is exhausting, and after years of suffering Bob self-medicates to numb his emotions, but this doesn’t help his depression—it makes it worse. Bob gets angry at the world and angry at himself and often takes it out on those closest to him, hurting the ones he loves. He can be aggressive and mean and can say hurtful things that can’t be taken back. But he never ever truly means those words.

When Bob’s depression is at its worst, he is never his present self. He is still Bob, but he’s Bob with Depression.

Bob needs to know he is still loved. He needs to know that he can get help. He needs to know that although his battle with depression may be a long and painful journey, there is often light at the end of the tunnel and those who love him will battle through it with him.

The end.

Story Number Two:

Bob has cancer.

He’s been battling it for six or more years now. Bob’s cancer is dark and painful and rarely leaves him. It’s like a heavy cloud always hovering above him. Even on not so bad days he is always aware of it.

It controls his life. It consumes him. Because of his cancer, Bob is unable to carry out simple every day tasks, making life, work and relationships seem impossible.

His cancer is exhausting, and after years of suffering Bob self-medicates to numb his emotions, but this doesn’t help his cancer—it makes it worse. Bob gets angry at the world and angry at himself and often takes it out on those closest to him, hurting the ones he loves. He can be aggressive and mean and can say hurtful things that can’t be taken back. But he never ever truly means those words.

When Bob’s cancer is at its worst, he is never his present self. He is still Bob, but he’s Bob with Cancer.

Bob needs to know he is still loved. He needs to know that he can get help. He needs to know that although his battle with cancer may be a long and painful journey, there is often light at the end of the tunnel and those who love him will battle through it with him.

The end.

~

Except, it’s not the end. There are two very different endings to Bob’s stories.

Here’s how story number one will likely end:

Fighting depression has left Bob tired and reluctant to carry on.

He has quit his job. He has pushed friends and family away for fear of them being hurt.

His children don’t understand him. His wife’s heart is broken, and although she loves him dearly, she has left him because she just doesn’t know how to make him better. Her friends have all isolated her because she invested so much time in to wanting to help him she didn’t have the energy for anyone else.

His depression has left Bob isolated, too, and has destroyed his life, work and love.

Bob is alone. He is now facing his biggest fear: being alone.

The end.

Here’s how story number two likely ends:

Bob’s cancer has left him tired and reluctant to carry on.

But Bob’s friends and family feel sorry for him; they sympathise with him and support him. They stay by his side, telling him he will get better. They know that when he tries to push them away it’s the cancer making him angry at the world, and they allow for his irrational behaviour.

His children are patient and helpful; they have been made aware and understand that it is the cancer making Daddy poorly, and they have friends at school whose Mum or Nanna or Grandad have had cancer. His wife has a wonderful support network. Her friends and family all rally ’round them helping out when they can, being there when she is ready to talk and understanding when she is not.

Bob slowly but surely makes improvement and knows he couldn’t have fought it without the love and support of his family and friends. He sees the light at the end of a very long tunnel, and even though he knows that eventually his cancer may beat him, he is happy in the knowledge that he is not alone.

The end.

~

You see the difference?

Depression is invisible, but it is no less damaging. Please educate yourself and those around you. There may be someone close to you suffering in silence because they feel too ashamed to ask for help.

There is no shame in depression. Help to lose the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

#letsbeatdepressiontogether

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Relephant Read:

11 Ways to Be an Effective Partner When Your Girlfriend or Wife has Depression & Anxiety.

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Author: Clare Hoey

Editor: Toby Israel

Photo: Renne.hawk/Flickr // Jasmin Porčič/Pixoto

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