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As many of us know, January is the month for annual peaks in Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), with the issue affecting at least 10 million people in the United States and a staggering 29 percent of all adults in the United Kingdom.
This time last year, I was suffering badly from depression. I was struck down by London’s dark and dingy daily grind, but my SADness was also gratuitously amplified by my third mental breakdown.
Thankfully, a year on, things are quite different, though had I not received help from a couple of wonderful people close to me, I dare not guess as to what my mental health might look like now.
For years, I could not open up or communicate with anyone about my depression. As far as anyone was concerned, while I definitely wasn’t healthy, everyone thought I was happy—the life and soul of the party, always carrying the conversation, holding court, and joking about anything and everything. As far as anyone else was concerned, I was a veritable fun factory. That could not have been further from the truth, of course.
Sometimes I would spend days like that, as I was trying to grow a business and retain my mask of sociability. In the absence of being able to articulate these feelings, I would drink heavily and consume copious amounts of cocaine. That numbed the pain—or so I thought. It always numbed the pain. Incapable of communicating my issues, every day and every night, I lost myself in a vortex of despair, with thoughts and plans of ending the sorry existence I’d created (and curated) for myself.
Depression is now commonplace and is very much part of the fabric of our broken societal system. People everywhere are suffering as they try and fail to fit into it. They won’t tell you. We never do. We don’t want to be a burden or to admit our inability to cope. We don’t want to air our dirty laundry or advertise the sickness in our minds. Plus, we think you’ve got your own sh*t to deal with, and surely, you don’t need the unwelcome addition of our “pity party” on your plate. Besides, to many, depression is absolute nonsense.
“Pick yourself up, dust yourself off!” They will say.
“Do some exercise, get some fresh air!” More reasons for us to stay quiet.
The thing is: we can’t dust ourselves off. We want to, but those words quickly spiral and disappear into the vacuous hollow of our insurmountable sadness.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 300 million people around the world now have depression—and that’s just the ones we know about.
300 million human beings—all victims and prisoners of their own broken minds.
This is no longer a problem; it’s our problem. With that in mind, we should all take a moment to look at those around us. Sure, everyone’s always fighting a battle on some level, but there will be one—maybe two—close to you, if you stop and really observe their behaviour, it will become obvious that they are in fact really struggling. We tend to think of it as nothing, but trust me, it is something.
It is everything.
How we got to a point where it’s normal for 15 percent of the adult population to suffer from depression is beyond me. The only way we’re going to change this rising epidemic is by shaking off the apathy and starting to give a f*ck.
After all, whether you know it yet or not, healing them is healing you.